Attorney Gery Chico on Thursday launched his bid for mayor of Chicago, becoming the second person to join the race after Mayor Rahm Emanuel announced on Sept. 4 that he would not seek a third term.
Chico ran for mayor unsuccessfully in 2011 and served as chief of staff to former mayor Richard M. Daley from 1992 to 1995. He has also worked as president of the Chicago Board of Education, chairman of the Illinois State Board of Education, president of the Chicago Park District Board of Commissioners, and chairman of City Colleges of Chicago.
Chico joined Morning Shift host Tony Sarabia to talk about why he’s vying for the city’s top job.
On why he announced his run after Emanuel dropped out
Gery Chico: I ran against Rahm Emanuel in 2011. Secondly, it’s hard to run against somebody when you’re working with them. Rahm Emanuel had asked me to recruit corporate sponsors — large companies and small companies — to support Chicago public high schools in a STEM engineering initiative. I’m in the middle of doing that. I wasn’t raised to be somebody that puts a knife in your back when you’re helping somebody move our city forward.
On why he’s experienced to be mayor
Chico: Well, I want a safer and stronger Chicago. And I don’t say that just as a phrase; I think we need it. My wife and my family and I have been lucky to get a lot of opportunities in this city, and we’ve taken advantage of them, and we’ve been successful. … I’m born and raised in Chicago, I love it, I breathe it, I’m here every day. And our businesses are here, our kids are here, and now thankfully, our grandchildren are here. …
[My work] experience combined with my life experience of being in these communities and being Chicago through and through gives me the experience to drive my agenda. And my agenda is reducing violence, making the schools stronger, and rebuilding our neighborhoods unlike they’ve ever been rebuilt before.
On police training and the murder trial of Chicago Police Officer Jason Van Dyke
Chico: What’s changed over eight years is the need for training among our police department. We have not kept pace. …
The training I’m calling for is to deal with situations like [Officer Jason Van Dyke shooting Laquan McDonald]. … We can’t just assume that because an officer had that exposure when they were a rookie on the police department, that 17, 18 years later, they know exactly what the modern and current technique is to deal with those situations.
On community policing
Chico: When I worked for the mayor’s office in the early ‘90s, we began community policing. It showed tremendous results. We saw people from communities sitting with police talking about — together — working on preventing crime and solving crime.
What’s the biggest issue we have today? People won’t come forward and talk to police about solving crimes.
On community mental health resources
Chico: [Opening more mental health facilities] would be my goal [as mayor]. One of my daughters is in mental health and is talking to me all the time about the need for more and high-quality mental health options for people in the city. You can just see it around us. People have been left out in the cold, and that’s not the kind of city we want to be.
On what he thinks Emanuel did well
Chico: I think he worked very hard to bring a number of companies into this city that otherwise might not have been here. He’s a tireless worker to make that happen. And the reason I support that is those companies by and large hire Chicagoans, and our people need jobs. And I think the mayor worked very hard to get additional resources to Chicago Public Schools through this battle with the governor about the education funding formula.
This interview has been edited for brevity and clarity. Click the “play” button to listen to the entire conversation.