What it’s like to work for Rahm Emanuel
Six twentysomethings tell their tales of tweeting for, traveling with and taking date-night suggestions from Mayor Rahm Emanuel.
ON THE FIFTH FLOOR OF MAYOR RAHM Emanuel’s City Hall offices, there’s a room with dozens of printed screenshots and handwritten notes taped to one wall. Above the papers in small black letters, a hand-drawn sign reads: awesome shit wall.
Caroline Weisser, an assistant press secretary for the mayor, is leading me on a tour, and we’ve stopped in the office of 28-year-old Kevin Hauswirth, the mayor’s director of social media. “Everything in this room is off the record,” Weisser, 25, declares, “except for this wall.”
This wall is where Hauswirth and Ankur Thakkar, the deputy director of social media, post their inspirations. Some of them are ideas they’d like to implement for the mayor’s office. Others they simply find humorous. Posts range from a screenshot of a Muppet Facebook app that allows users to record themselves singing a few seconds of the movie’s theme song to a screenshot of a video player with a sidebar of rolling commentary that would enhance a live address. Nowhere in the mayor’s office is youth culture more prominently on display than here.
Despite Emanuel’s reputation of not being an easy man to work for (a Time magazine article famously described him as a “profane, hyperactive attack dog” with a “steamrolling personality”), several twentysomethings dropped their lives in cities such as Washington, D.C., New York and Springfield, Illinois, when they got offers to work for Chicago’s first new mayor in 22 years.
Some, like Thakkar, are helping build a social-media presence for the mayor’s office. Others, like Weisser, are handling the press and working damage control. Then there’s 28-year-old mayoral aide Michael Faulman, who once found himself eating salami and hummus with Emanuel in a Jewel parking lot. Here, six millennials tell their stories of what it’s like to work for one of the nation’s most intimidating politicians.