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Randy Leonard/MEDILL

Flanked by his wife and children, Gery Chico took the stage Tuesday to concede Chicago's mayoral election to Rahm Emanuel

Without rancor, Chico pledges support for Chicago's new mayor

by Randy Leonard
Feb 22, 2011

After a hard-fought campaign peppered with bitter attack ads, Gery Chico and his supporters struck a conciliatory chord in conceding Tuesday’s election to former White House chief of staff Rahm Emanuel.

“I want with all of my heart for Rahm Emanuel to be successful as our mayor,” Chico told a crowd of a couple hundred supporters at Westin River North. “We need that, ladies and gentlemen, we can have nothing less.”

The Chicago Board of Elections reported Emanuel grabbed about 55 percent of the vote, avoiding a runoff election with five percentage points to spare.

While the eyes of some election staff were already reddened with tears, the crowd echoed Chico’s support for the city’s new leader.

“I spoke a short time ago to Rahm Emanuel and we had a very, very pleasant phone call,” Chico said. “I pledged to mayor-elect Rahm Emanuel my full support for whatever he needs to take our city in the direction that he will take it.”

A woman shouted “Good for you,” and the crowd applauded.

“This is our city,” Chico said, “and we all love our city and we’ve elected a mayor tonight.”

The response was muted when Chico went further to say, “I know that Rahm Emanuel will lead us in the right direction.”

His campaign pulled together a coalition around the city “with the Latino community, the African American Community, labor, working men and women,” Chico said, adding, “Rahm will obviously need to continue that work to take our city where we want it to go.”

Wrapping up a speech that lasted less than four minutes, Chico said: “We fought hard, we talked about the issues that we thought were important to the city … Let’s all work together to get behind the new mayor and make this the best city on the face of the earth.”

With just 42 percent of registered voters venturing out to the polls on the cold snowy Election Day, Lakeview resident and Chico supporter Justin Rivera speculated about the effect of the turnout.

“You wonder if more people went out to vote, what would have happened,” he said after Chico’s speech.

“I don’t think Rahm will do a bad job, I just think Chico would have done a better job,” Rivera said, “representing the city as a whole.”

“Towards the end, Chico made a push and people thought maybe we could at least get the runoff here,” he said.

Riviera wondered if Emanuel’s financial supporters would tie him to the types of privatization interests evidenced during Mayor Richard M. Daley’s time.

“I think everyone loves the city and that’s why you back your candidate as much as you can,” Riviera said.