Thomas M. Tunney (born August 22, 1955) is a United States entrepreneur and politician from the state of Illinois. Since 2003, he serves as the first gay alderman of the Chicago City Council. He represents the prominent 44th Ward of the City of Chicago (map) and is formally a member of the Democratic Party. His constituency includes major tourist destinations, Boystown and Wrigleyville neighborhoods.
Tunney was born and raised in the Irish American Southwest Side of Chicago. Upon graduating from Brother Rice High School, a local Catholic high school, he attended the University of Illinois where he obtained his bachelor's degree in restaurant management. Tunney succeeded in obtaining a master's degree in hotel administration from Cornell University. He had hopes of following in his parent's footsteps with a career in the hospitality industry.
Upon returning from college, Tunney settled into the Lakeview neighborhood and worked in his family's restaurants. Upon hearing that Chicago fixture Ann Sather was retiring and closing her famous restaurant in Lakeview in 1981, Tunney met with Sather offering a proposal to purchase her business. Tunney gained full ownership of the Ann Sather Restaurant and expanded it into a successful chain of restaurants.
Tunney joined several prestigious entrepreneurial circles and became chairman of the Illinois Restaurant Association. He founded and led the Lakeview Center Business Association and White Crane Wellness Center. As a result of his success, Tunney was inducted into the Chicago Gay and Lesbian Hall of Fame in 1995.
Public service Edit
Finding himself in prominence as a local small-business neighborhood leader, Tunney sprang into public service. He opened his restaurants to grassroots and nonprofit organizations as town halls, serving as free meeting places. He committed himself to helping people with HIV and AIDS through programs he created, adopted by the Illinois Masonic Hospital. With a growing business network, Tunney became a fundraiser for local gay and lesbian political advocacy groups.
Upon notice of Tunney's activities as well as the influence of his political contributions to local campaigns, Chicago politicians offered Tunney positions in city governance. He became chairman of the small business subcommittee of the Chicago Economic Development Committee. Mayor Richard M. Daley appointed Tunney to the mayor's Parking Task Force.
Upon the announced retirement of ward boss Bernie Hansen in 2002, Tunney was prodded to enter elected office. Hansen, with the consent of the mayor, hand-picked Tunney to replace him as the ward's principal voice in city governance. Hansen resigned just months before the election so as to avoid a primary election, allowing the mayor to appoint Tunney as the replacement candidate. With the support of the political machinery of Chicago's Democratic Party, Tunney was elected alderman on February 25, 2003.
As alderman, Tunney has faced criticism over his handling of the Chicago Cubs’ demands for more night games and expansion of Wrigley Field. Residents are concerned over how these issues will affect traffic and safety in the neighborhood. Some feel he has given in to the Tribune Company (which owns the Cubs) too easily, and not extracted enough concessions from the team.
Recently Tunney used a parliamentary procedure to delay a vote on the raising of the minimum wage for so-called "big-box" stores. This move has angered some residents in the 44th Ward leading to a potential boycott of his Ann Sather restaurant chain.
Tunney is the cousin of Robin Tunney, who plays Agent Lisbon on The Mentalist.
- ↑ Gianoulis, Tina (2006), “Chicago”, glbtq.com, <http://www.glbtq.com/social-sciences/chicago,4.html>. Retrieved on 2007-08-20
- ↑ Crowder, Courtney. "Palos Heights native wears a smile on CBS' 'Mentalist'", Chicago Tribune, 2010-09-21. Retrieved on 2010-10-15. Archived from the original on 2012-07-29.
- ↑ "Cappleman makes history in runoff election", Windy City Times, April 5, 2011.
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