Cook County, 10th District Commissioner (2009-)
Starting as a budget analyst for Mayor Richard M. Daley, Gainer was the sort of bright, relatively-apolitical technocrat the Daley Administration excelled at producing, where she moved through a number of positions, ending up as an administrator in the Chicago Parks District. Her father was well-known AT&T Illinois lead lobbyist William Gainer, a close associate of both Richard J. Daley and Richard M. Daley. She got her start as a community organizer in New York City, then came to Chicago to start a community center at Senn High School. After a City Hall stay, Gainer followed the path of many Daley administrators and moved to Aon North America, a large re-insurance company based in Chicago and run by close Daley friend Patrick Ryan, where she is now Vice President of Global Public Affairs.
In 2009, Mike Quigley vacated his Cook County Board seat after winning a special election for Rahm Emanuel's Congressional seat. The open position would be filled by appointment by Ward Democratic Committeemen. The word from Mayor Daley's office: the job should go to Bridget Gainer.
The move was a surprise, since Gainer, a respected City Hall administrator, had almost no political resume, never knocked on doors for candidates and had barely contributed to campaign fundraising. But, the night of the Committeeman vote, between Mike Quigley's chief of staff Kim Walz and Bridget Gainer, the Committeemen reportedly selected Gainer, hands down.
Gainer has continued in Quigley's footsteps, as a strong progressive voice against corruption and government inefficiency in County Government. She helped establish and now chairs the Cook County Land Bank, and spearheaded the County's open data pension website. She briefly considered running for mayor in 2011 when Daley hesitated running for another term, but quickly stopped circulating petitions as soon as it became clear he would run for reelection. Her name has been floated for the 2019 race as well.
A native Chicagoan, Gainer lives on the North Side of Chicago with her husband, Dennis Kibby, and three children. Kibby was also briefly involved in politics, taking on 19th District State Sen. Patrick O'Malley (R-Palos Park) in 1997. In 2015, U.S. Sen. Kristen Gillibrand and Gainer founded Off the Sidelines Chicago, a civic impact organization for women.
Important Political Events
- 2009, Appointed Cook County Commissioner by Ward Committeeman, replacing Mike Quigley
- 2010, Elected Cook County Commissioner unopposed