Ward Room
Covering Chicago's nine political influencers

The Greek Community's Consensus Candidate

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The Greek Community's Consensus Candidate

The black community couldn’t come up with a consensus candidate for mayor. But the Greeks have.

This morning, former Chicago Public Schools CEO Paul Vallas endorsed Gery Chico at Orozco Elementary School on 18th Street.

“Nobody is better equipped to lead this city to new heights than Gery Chico,” Vallas said. “Gery’s resume is built for the job of mayor. From ushering in urban school reform for our children to improving the safety of our citizens, Gery is a guy who gets things done.”

After starting the day in Pilsen, Vallas and Chico will be headed to lunch at Athena Restaurant, where they’ll be meeting with Greektown business leaders.

That covers most of Chico’s ethnicity. Chico is one-quarter Greek, on his mother’s side. And he’s been tight with Vallas for years. When the state legislature gave Mayor Daley control of the public schools, the mayor appointed Vallas as CEO and Chico as president. Vallas’s brother, Dean Vallas, is Chico’s campaign manager.

Vallas’s endorsement helps Chico in a number of ways.

First, it reminds voters of the role he played in reforming the public schools. Second, Vallas is well regarded by liberal voters. In the 2002 primary for governor, Vallas swept the lakefront wards, which are Rahm Emanuel country right now.

Finally, by emphasizing Chico’s Greek background, and helping him connect to white liberals, Vallas helps Chico escape from the box of being a Latino candidate. Chico’s multi-cultural background gives him the opportunity to put together a magic coalition of minorities and white liberals, just as Barack Obama and Toni Preckwinkle did.

Chico and Vallas will be hanging out together all day. Tonight at 7 p.m., they’re “visiting with friends” at Butch McGuire’s, 20 W. Division St. It’s on Chico’s public schedule, so evidently, we’re all invited. 
 

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