Commissioner Bridget Gainer
Cook County Board
Noted by MSNBC’s Chuck Todd as a rising star in Illinois politics, Commissioner Gainer was elected to the Cook County Board in 2010. With an M.B.A. from the University of Chicago and a strong background in finance, Commissioner Gainer’s first act as a County Commissioner was to create Cook County’s first Pension Committee. As Chairman, Commissioner Gainer led the charge to find a pension reform solution that was fair to both taxpayers and workers. To keep the public engaged, Commissioner Gainer launched an open-data pension website (OpenPensions.org) where press, the public and County employees could go for details on plans and proposals. The result was a working group of labor and government officials who drafted one of the state’s first collaborative pension reform bills.
Commissioner Gainer created the Cook County Land Bank, the region’s most comprehensive response to reduce the amount and impact of vacant land and abandoned buildings throughout Cook County. Bringing together realtors, private developers, civic and social leaders, and Commissioner Gainer’s work to create the Cook County Land Bank has been noted in the Wall Street Journal, Chicago Tribune, Chicago Sun-Times and Crain’s Chicago Business.
In addition to Commissioner Gainer’s work with finance and foreclosure, she is creating a new asset for regional workforce development by bringing together community colleges, high schools and businesses to reimagine apprenticeships. Commissioner Gainer believes that if the United States is going to be a leader in the global labor market we have to ensure our job training today looks more like the economy of tomorrow. Commissioner Gainer believes rather than just focusing on the skills gap we have to fight the training gap by bringing employers into the workforce development process.
Finally, Commissioner Gainer has devoted special interest to the women and children in the County’s criminal justice system. She eliminated the practice of separating new mothers awaiting trial from their newborns, led the fight to ban shackling pregnant detainees during delivery, created the first citizen advisory Board for the Juvenile Detention Center and continues to lead the fight to reduce the number of non-violent offenders in County Jail.