Summers saw that as an opportunity. Previous treasurers in Chicago had typically been bankers or fixtures in the business community. They stuck to managing investments and talking to citizens about financial literacy. Summers didn’t want to settle for that. The city’s fiscal and economic strength, he says, are directly connected to crime, neighborhood vitality and education. To him, the treasurer’s office was Chicago’s most underused asset when it came to addressing its larger problems.
The problems, particularly the financial ones, are complicated. Many feel Chicago is a city that shouldn’t be in the financial chokehold it finds itself in today. It is the Midwest’s only global city, a place with a vibrant, thriving center that draws visitors from all over the world. Its economy continues to grow, if not quite as fast as those of other big cities. It has long touted itself as more affordable and lower in taxation than other cities such as Los Angeles or New York.