Candidate for Mayor of Chicago

Additional Coverage from WTTW News

About the Candidate

Name: Gery Chico
DOB: Aug. 24, 1956
Family: Wife, Sunny; daughters, Alyssa, Sarah, Rebecca and Michelle; son, Michael
Occupation: Attorney
Political Experience: Chief of staff to Mayor Daley (1992-95)
President, Chicago Public Schools (1995-2001)
Board President, Chicago Park District (2007-2010)
President, Illinois State Board of Education (2011-xx)

Candidate Statement

I’m Gery Chico. I’m a lifelong Chicagoan, and I’m running to become the next mayor of Chicago because I love this city. I want future generations to receive the same kind of opportunities, safety and prosperity that I had growing up.

My grandparents immigrated here from Mexico and found work in Chicago’s stockyards. I grew up on the South Side in the Back of the Yards neighborhood. As kids, my brother and I learned the value of hard work pumping gas at my Dad’s gas station, and volunteering at my grandmother’s church on the weekends.

I kept working hard, and I found my true career passion serving in leadership positions to help make Chicago a better city.

I became the city’s first Latino Chief of Staff, and that led to serving for six years as President of the Chicago Public schools - where we lifted up student performance six years in a row. President Clinton described our turnaround at CPS as a model for school districts across America. 

I went on to serve as President of the Chicago Park District and Chairman of the City Colleges. We built new parks and launched innovative job-training programs. We also cut millions of waste and turned it into a property tax cut.

As mayor of Chicago, I’ll take this track record of delivering results for people to the next level. We’ll tax million-dollar home purchases and give working families a break. We’ll crack down on guns and bring new leadership to the Chicago Police Department to restore trust.

We’ll clean up city government and bring real accountability into the Mayor’s Office. I know how to do all of this, because I’ve done it before. Together, we can build a “Chicago Comeback” that becomes a model for the nation. We can make that brighter future a reality for our children and grandchildren. I’m ready to hit the ground running with you on Day One, and that’s why I’m asking for your vote for mayor on February 26th.

Candidate Q&A

What is your vision for this office?

My vision for Chicago is shaped by my experience serving this city. Throughout my career I’ve had the privilege of holding positions that allowed me to see the city from many different perspectives, whether it was in the Mayor’s Office, Chicago Public Schools, the Park District, the City Colleges of Chicago, or the Illinois State Board of Education. In each of these positions, I worked with people across the city.

As a lawyer, I’ve worked on projects that have helped invest in communities through affordable housing, building shopping centers, constructing and renovating schools and health centers, and investing in infrastructure. I’ve had direct experience with the range of issues the Mayor of Chicago faces on a daily basis.

Being part of the civic life of Chicago has afforded me the opportunity to be involved in issues that people face every day. I was one of the founders of the Mexican-American Chamber of Commerce (now the Illinois Hispanic Chamber of Commerce) and formerly served on the Board of Directors of the Chicago Urban League. I’m a member of the Illinois Equal Justice Foundation, which provides legal aid to victims of domestic violence, seniors, and families in crisis. I’ve been a member of the boards of both the Field Museum and the National Museum of Mexican Art. I served as Chairman of the Erikson Institute, a leader in early childhood research, education, and direct service programs. I was also a member of the Board of Trustees of DePaul University and I sit on the Chancellor’s Advisory Board at UIC. I’ve seen the positive impact of higher education for our students and our city.

If I’ve learned one thing, it’s that Chicago is safer and stronger when we’re working together. We are a global city, but we’re also a city of neighborhoods. Without connecting our neighborhoods to downtown, we cut people and communities out of our city’s growing prosperity. In fact, if we don’t invest in people, we diminish everyone’s prosperity because as a city, we are as connected to each other economically as we are through our identity as Chicagoans.

We cannot lose sight of each other, and as Mayor, I will strategically use not only our resources, but those of the business community, financial institutions, and philanthropic organizations to generate wealth in communities that have been overlooked for far too long. At the same time, I will work to maintain Chicago’s reputation as a place friendly to businesses that create job growth. We will continue Chicago’s trajectory as a technology hub. Finally, Chicago will grow in prominence on the international stage, both in terms of tourism and business.

I will be ready on day one—in fact I’m ready right now—to serve the citizens of this city and make Chicago a better, more equitable place to live, work, and raise families. I’m an optimist by nature, and I believe that our best days are ahead of us, but we have to work to make that a reality. I’m ready to work with you.

What is the most pressing issue facing constituents, and how can you help address it?

Addressing public safety, violence prevention, and criminal justice reform requires a holistic approach that gives everyone a seat at the table. During my time as mayoral chief of staff, I was part of the original team of people who first implemented community policing in Chicago, and it’s this kind of proactive, socially-conscious approach that he will bring back to city government as mayor.

The Chicago Police Department will undergo reforms ordered under the federal court consent decree. These reforms are crucial. It is equally critical that we have the best trained police force in the country and that the police receive the respect they deserve for the work they do to keep us safe. The relationship between the community and the police is polarized and lacks trust. Our city cannot go on like this, and I pledge to make this relationship stronger and better.

We also must recognize that public safety is not only a question of the police. It’s a question of educational opportunity, job opportunities, and equity. Crime is a symptom brought on by years of prejudice and disinvestment. We cannot conquer this challenge if we continue to address it in silos, which is why I’ve called for the creation of the Mayor’s Office of Violence Reduction and Prevention to direct and coordinate violence reduction strategies moving forward.

We will be safer when we work together. That means working strategically and dynamically across city agencies, with researchers, nonprofits, and corporate partners. It means working with the Chicago Public Schools to make sure that at-risk youth are attending high-quality schools and getting the attention they need. It means working with the Department of Family and Support Services to provide targeted early childhood development supports to parents and children.

I am committed to bringing the city together to address public safety holistically.

Gery Chico on the Issues