Tom Tunney
Categories:   Politics   Civic/Community   Business   General

Tunney is Chicago's first openly gay alderman, and so much more. As a business owner he has given much to the GLBT and mainstream Chicago communities.

Tunney has devoted his life to giving back to the Lakeview community. His success as a small-business owner and commitment to public service has won him praise from business, civic and community-based organizations. Tom brings the same passion and love of service to elected office that he has applied to every customer who has walked through the doors of his Ann Sather Restaurants.

Elected on Feb. 25, 2003 as Chicago's first openly gay alderman, Tom's vision includes serving his constituents as a full-time, full-service alderman by alleviating congestion in the ward, limiting property taxes for seniors and long-term residents and improving education for our children so that young families remain in Lakeview. In his first year as alderman of the 44th Ward, Tom introduced sweeping zoning reforms for several business and residential properties in the ward.

Tom has a strong belief in being a good neighbor to fellow businesses and residents alike; whether representing the small-business community or helping to improve the quality of life for neighborhood residents. Over the years, Tom has cultivated a platform of public service that reflects his commitment to the community and his passion for change. He has served on the boards of several business, civic and community-based organizations. Through Tom's generosity, Ann Sather's has become a frequent meeting place for grass-roots and non-profit organizations.

Tom's public service record includes being the former chairman of the Illinois Restaurant Association, founder and former president of the Lakeview Center Business Association and founding board member and former chairman of the White Crane Senior Center. He established "Restaurant Nights" at Illinois Masonic Hospital to serve meals to AIDS patients and their families and was the former fund-raising chair for Impact, a gay and lesbian political action organization. Additionally, Tom was the former chair of the small business subcommittee for the City of Chicago's Economic Development Committee, and served on Mayor Daley's Parking Task Force.
Tom has brought his business and community experience with him to the Alderman’s Office. He has focused on balancing the concerns of residents and the areas vibrant business community, maintaining the character of the neighborhood, improving and adding green space, promoting transit and bike-ability, and improving the ward’s aging infrastructure.

Through his leadership and new Neighborhood protection Ordinance was agreed to by the Cubs, community and City of Chicago officials that sets in place a series of protections designed to minimize the impact of Cubs games on residents.
He has raised awareness of LGBT issues in the city. He passed legislation to include domestic partnerships in the city’s ethics code, called for an end to “Don’t Ask Don’t Tell” nationally, and increased city budget resources devoted to HIV-AIDS.

In city council, Tom has focused on legislation that streamlines inspections and fees for businesses and removes unnecessary red tape for small businesses. He sits on the City Council Committees on Finance, Budget, Rules, License and Consumer Protection, Education, and Economic Capital and Technology Development. Tom is currently the Vice Chair of the Committees on Human Relations and Special Events and Cultural Affairs.
Tom was born and raised in Chicago. He received his undergraduate degree from the University of Illinois and his master's degree from Cornell University. Tom has been a resident of the Lakeview neighborhood for over 25 years.

  Video Interview Date: 2007-07-19 Interviewer: Tracy Baim

Out and Proud in Chicago: An Overview of the City's Gay Community, the book is edited by Tracy Baim and features the contributions of more than 20 prominent historians and journalists. It is published by Surrey Books, an Agate imprint, and is hard cover, 224 pages, 4-color, with nearly 400 photos.
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