44th Ward Alderman Tom Tunney to retire from City Council at end of term

ByCraig Wall and ABC7 Chicago Digital Team via WLS logo
Tuesday, August 30, 2022
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Longtime Alderman Tom Tunney will retire at the end of his term in May 2023, he announced Tuesday.

CHICAGO (WLS) -- Longtime Alderman Tom Tunney will retire at the end of his term in May 2023, he announced Tuesday.

Alderman Tunney has represented the 44th Ward in the Lakeview neighborhood since being appointed by Mayor Richard M. Daley in 2002, becoming the first openly gay alderman in Chicago.

This announcement continues the shakeup in the City Council. Eleven others have either already left for one reason or another or will not be seeking reelection next February.

The longtime owner of the Ann Sather's restaurants was considered an ally of Mayor Lori Lightfoot and he chaired the powerful Zoning Committee.

"I have always strived to do my best for the residents and businesses in the Lakeview community and have been honored by the remarkable opportunity to serve the residents of the 44th Ward for almost twenty years," said Alderman Tunney. "I am grateful for the trust they put in me to help lead Lakeview forward in ways that benefited residents, businesses and visitors, alike. I will continue to work tirelessly for the ward through my last day on the City Council. As I look ahead, I see so many great ways in which I can continue to give back to the city I love."

Is retiring Alderman Tom Tunney running for mayor?

Bennett Lawson, Tunney's chief of staff, announced Tuesday that he will run for 44th Ward alderman.

Tunney's decision is not a complete surprise. He said earlier this month he was not sure he wanted another four-year term. He also is giving some consideration to a run for mayor, though his announcement did not indicate a decision.

"Well, there's a good bit of talk about personality clashes and those things but I think basically that's not the reason most of the aldermen are retiring. I think they're retiring because it's time. Many of them like Tom Tunney have been there quite a while," said Dick Simpson, UIC Political Science Professor who served as 44th Ward Alderman in the 1970's

Tunney's departure also will leave a leadership vacuum for North Side residents.

James Cappleman and Harry Osterman have also announced they are not running for re-election. Michele Smith resigned earlier this month.

Just last week another longtime alderpersons, Leslie Hairston announced she would not be running for re-election.

Hairston called Tunney a great colleague.

She said serving during the pandemic was hard, and noted that things are far different than then when she first started.

"It's a different administration. It's a different way of working. It is not as collegial if you will, as it used to be. And even city council meetings, as you can see, are totally different," Hairston said.

But she said her decision had nothing to do with Mayor Lightfoot.

Already three alderman, Roderick Sawyer, Sophia King and Ray Lopez have announced they are running for mayor and Tunney has hinted he might be number four.

"It was interesting that he made a point of saying he's going to serve out his term. Serve the ward as alderman all the way up until the last day in office," said Laura washington, ABC7 Political Analyst. "That doesn't sound like someone who's planning on running for mayor but that also could be trying to keep things from getting out of hand."