A LIFELONG CHICAGOAN
Chicago runs through Gery Chico’s blood.
As a boy growing up in Back of the Yards, Gery rode the No. 9 Ashland bus every Saturday to join his grandmother at the Immaculate Heart of Mary church. His grandma was the cook and housekeeper at the church, which Gery’s grandfather, Encarnacion Chico, had helped to build. While his grandmother cooked for the folks at the rectory, Gery would help by getting the groceries and cleaning.
As a kid, Gery played every sport he could find. In his freshman year at Kelly High School, he broke both hips and had to miss an entire year of school. But he never fell behind because a dedicated Chicago Public Schools teacher came to his house, ensuring he could keep up with his schoolwork.
At 16, he worked at his father and grandfather’s auto repair shop, Town of Lake Garage. On weekends, his grandfather had him and his brother Craig help paint and do other repairs on houses. They earned no money, but they learned the value of hard work.
Gery went on to graduate from Kelly High School and eventually the University of Illinois Chicago.
He has lived in Brighton Park, Edgebrook, East and West Rogers Park, and University Village, among others. Along the way, Gery had a family. He, his wife Sunny, and their five children all attended Chicago Public Schools.
It was growing up on the streets of Chicago that made Gery want to give back. He became a public servant and has answered the city’s call time and time again — always delivering results.
Gery helped strengthen and revitalize Chicago Public Schools in the late 90’s. He constructed playgrounds throughout the city’s neighborhoods, implemented community policing, and as chief of staff for Mayor Daley put 1,000 police officers on the streets to ensure the safety of residents and businesses.
When the Chicago Public Schools had a massive deficit, Gery — who was CPS Board President — turned it into a surplus and used the money to pay teachers, to construct buildings and to drive academic improvement. He led efforts to reinvent the City Colleges of Chicago and to make them affordable for all families, giving students the access to the education and training they need to build better lives.
Gery wants to ensure that all Chicagoans have the very same opportunities that he has been given. Our city is at a critical crossroads. There will be no time for a learning curve when the next mayor of Chicago takes the reins.
Gery already knows what it takes. He is Chicago. He was born for this job.