Former mayoral candidate and onetime Chicago school board president Gery Chico is taking on a new job. He’s helping tackle some of the city’s biggest issues as board chair of Local Initiatives Support Corporation Chicago, a nonprofit that works to boost underserved neighborhoods through grants, loans and support to community organizations. While it may not be widely known, Chico describes that as “almost by design.”
“The idea behind the organization is to enable local community partners, longtime residents, organizations in the community to be the ones taking the lead on planning for the redevelopment of their own neighborhoods,” said Chico, who’s also a partner with the firm Chico & Nunes.
As for his new role in the organization, Chico says it’s “to try to make it a little bit faster between the time we conceptualize a plan and the time we actually start to see brick and mortar going into the neighborhood that effectuates these plans.”
A lifelong Chicagoan and former chief of staff to Mayor Richard M. Daley, Chico’s many years as a dealmaker are likely a boon to LISC Chicago. Those same credentials were a big part of Chico’s pitch as a candidate in the first round of the most recent mayoral election.
“I don’t think you sit and brood about these things, even if you lose,” Chico said of his unsuccessful bid for mayor. “Thankfully, I’m constituted that way where I look for the bright spot. I try to put myself to work, do something positive, and try to make the city better.”
Chico, who endorsed now-Mayor Lori Lightfoot, rates her early months on the job well. And he describes the FBI investigations and indictments of multiple alderman in recent months “disturbing.”
“We want people to have faith in government,” Chico said. “We don’t want people to be depressed about it, we don’t want people to be cynical about it. We have so much to do.”
As for whether he plans to run for office again?
“Well, you never say never, but right now I’ve got my hands full and I’m looking forward to this new task with LISC,” he said.