This week, Laura and special guest Gene Wagendorf, Associate Director, of the Greater Ravenswood Chamber of Commerce, welcome Bridget Gainer, the Cook County Commissioner of the 10th District. Elected to the board in 2010, Commissioner Gainer has used her leadership role in the non-profit, government and corporate sectors. She has worked tirelessly to create pension reform solutions, was able to institute the Cook County Land Bank and has continued to create new assets for regional workforce development, to name a few.
Listen to Episode 141 of Always Andersonville!
Top podcast highlights and where to find them (by timestamp):
1:06 – Gainer kicks us off by telling us a bit about her background and where she’s at today.
2:19 – Hear about how our guest became interested in community organizing.
“I think organizing is probably the most relevant skill you could ever have for so much neighborhood work as well as politics.”
6:54 – Curious as to what a commissioner is/what someone in this role might do? Tune in here to find out!
10:14 – The lakefront is a beautiful, natural addition to Chicago; However, the forests around and scattered throughout the city are just as beneficial to residents and their enjoyment. Bridget takes us through why the forests and their protection were crucial during the pandemic.
12:39 – Gainer created the first Cook County Pension Committee. Listen here to hear about what sparked her interest in pension reform and starting the committee.
16:19 – Tune in to hear Gainer answer the question: Does responding to a financial crisis make it easier to create a working group that involves people from labor and local government or does a crisis like that drive a deeper wedge?
18:48 – Gainer also played a foundational role in the establishment of the Cook County Land Bank. She explains that they basically do the dirty work for you, in regard to dealing with the two-year process with the court, various licenses, etc.
“The beauty about the Land Bank, the simplicity of it, is that we kind of decoupled two things. What we wanted to see was people in the neighborhood getting the house, redeveloping it, and selling it so somebody lives there.”
“Better to get the barriers out of the way and then people don’t need an Alderman, don’t need a lobbyist, don’t need a lawyer, they just need themselves.”
My greatest gift of being able to be in this job, on the county board, is to be able to look at a system like that [house development/market value] and try to dismantle, piece by piece, the things that get in people’s way.”
30:12 – Wanting to get involved in this kind of work? Gainer explains where to go and how to make that happen.
34:05 – We’ve seen people losing jobs/work over the pandemic. Here, Gainer explains what actions she’s taking to mend this issue in her own realm of work.
37:13 – Gainer tells us where she hopes to see Cook County and herself in 10 years.
Connect with Bridget Gainer on the following platforms:
Cook County Website: https://www.cookcountyil.gov/