CHICAGO — Moments after Mayor Richard M. Daley announced that he would not seek re-election, a text message popped up on Mary Williams-Taylor’s mobile phone.
“Hallelujah!” it read. “Did you hear the good news?”
Just ending her shift as a hospital laboratory technician, Ms. Williams-Taylor, 50, was instantly struck by feelings of sadness and dread. “Don’t joke,” she wrote back. “This is awful. What are we going to do without Daley? I’m afraid to even think about it.”
The two friends and their quick exchange capture the primary emotions that have swept over Chicago since Mr. Daley, 68, said he would bow out of the office he has held since 1989: enthusiasm about an opportunity for real change for the first time in decades, alongside a real fear of the unknown.
Because of Mayor Daley’s enormous influence over almost every aspect of city life, as well as the length of his tenure, his exit will leave a significant void; imagine if a strong mayor like Rudolph W. Giuliani or Michael R. Bloomberg held the reins in New York for 20 years.
All power radiated from Mr. Daley, so there will almost certainly be a new power structure here, from the neighborhood level to the City Council and city agencies and all the way to the mayor’s office.