By JEFFREY BISHKU-AYKUL
Chicago’s new treasurer is a Hyde Parker with a campaign based in the neighborhood.
Goldman Sachs veteran and Harvard Business School graduate Kurt Summers, 35, was appointed by Mayor Rahm Emanuel last October just two days after Stephanie Neely announced her resignation. Three weeks after being approved by City Council, on Dec. 1, the political newcomer celebrated his new job with a reception at his campaign headquarters at the Del Prado, 5307 S. Hyde Park Blvd.
“This is the first time I’ve ever run for anything, outside of student body,” Summers said in a recent interview at his campaign headquarters. “Electoral politics is all new for me.”
Summers’ transition from serving as Senior Vice President of asset management firm Grosvenor Capital Management to public office has been a fast and busy one. So far, he’s pledged to make trips to the city’s 77 community areas in 77 days as part of a campaign effort dubbed “77 in 77.”
At the same time, he said he has been attending meetings to “make a dent” on the city’s roughly $20 billion in pension debt by cutting fees paid to managers of multiple public employee retirement funds.
According to Summers — who is running unopposed — the decision to open his campaign headquarters three blocks away from his home was not only convenient but also historically significant. His grandfather, Sam Patch, was a close friend of and political strategist for late Mayor Harold Washington, a nearby resident.
“As a citywide candidate and someone who is from the community, and whose grandfather was a close friend of Mayor Washington — someone I called uncle Harold — it’s special and significant to me, to have that close connection to where he lived and where he operated out of.”
Summers, who moved from Bronzeville to Hyde Park while attending Whitney Young High School, also has ties to other area politicians.
A onetime neighbor of state Sen. Kwame Raoul’s (D-13), Summers said he first met Cook County Board President Toni Preckwinkle as a 15-year-old employee at Mr. G’s Co-op — now Hyde Park Produce, 1226 E. 53rd St. He would later work with her while spearheading Mayor Richard M. Daley’s failed 2016 Olympic bid and serve as her chief of staff.
“She would come in there every week, and she would bag her groceries and I would walk her out,” he said. “She was a newly-elected alderman at the time, and I was a kid.”
Summers has also campaigned for state Rep. Christian Mitchell’s (D-26) first run for office and Ald. Will Burns’ (4th) campaigns for state representative and alderman.
Summers said he, Raoul and Burns — all fraternity brothers — share a link to Preckwinkle.
“We all have a special connection to her,” he said.