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Lakeview Ald. Tom Tunney Is Not Running For Mayor

After a few months of considering jumping into the mayoral race, Tunney announced Friday he's decided against it.

Ald. Tom Tunney (44th) speaks during a news conference on CPS’s return to in-person learning at Hawthorne Scholastic Academy in Lakeview on March 1, 2021.
Colin Boyle/Block Club Chicago
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CHICAGO — Lakeview Ald. Tom Tunney is not going to run for mayor after all.

Tunney released a statement Friday announcing he will not run for mayor after months of considering jumping into the race.

“Unfortunately, while my love for our city is as strong as ever, I will not be running for mayor,” Tunney said in the statement. “I applaud everyone who chooses to run for public office and, like everyone else in Chicago, look forward to listening to the mayoral candidates’ vision for our great city.”

Tunney was expected to be a formidable opponent to incumbent Mayor Lori Lightfoot if he entered the race. His announcement comes less than a day after another big-name candidate, Rep. Jesús “Chuy” García, announced he’ll run.

Tunney has served as the 44th Ward alderperson since 2003, representing Lakeview, Lincoln Park, Boystown and Wrigleyville. But he announced in August he does not place to run for reelection. That opened the door to a possible mayoral run against longtime ally Lightfoot, who is facing a slew of challengers, including three other alderpeople.

Supporters who wanted Tunney in the race have gathered signatures to get him on the ballot, largely circulating petitions at the alderperson’s Ann Sather restaurants.

“For those who encouraged me to run for mayor, volunteered for the effort or signed my petitions, I am forever grateful for your support,” Tunney said. “All Chicagoans deserve a mayor who will wake up every day with the energy to make Chicago the best place to live, work and raise a family.”

The race for mayor is already crowded with alderpeople — Ray Lopez (15th), Roderick Sawyer (6th) and Sophia King (4th) have announced — and other officials: former Chicago schools CEO Paul Vallas, state Rep. Kam Buckner, Cook County Commissioner Brandon Johnson, businessman Willie Wilson and García.

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In his tenure as alderman, Tunney has been a prominent advocate for Chicago’s LGBTQ+ community, serving as chair of the LGBTQ+ Caucus for City Council and pushing through related initiatives, including the development of the Center on Halsted and the Town Hall LGBTQ senior housing projects and funding for AIDS and LGBTQ support services. He’s helped build up the Northalsted area, supporting the city’s massive Pride Parade and related events and pushing for the creation of the AIDS Garden, which opened in June.

Tunney was also involved in securing a $20 million renovation of Lake View High School, expanding the number of affordable housing units in his ward to more than 800 units and securing a $7 million grant for the renovation of the Merlo Chicago Public Library branch.

The alderman has clashed at times with the wealthy Ricketts family, which owns the Cubs and Wrigley Field. The Ricketts have criticized Tunney as the official and the family have debated how to best develop Wrigleyville while preserving history at the ballpark and in the neighborhood.

Tunney, a Chicago native and Brother Rice alumnus, is also known for his entrepreneurial work: He took over the popular Ann Sather restaurant in the ’80s and has expanded it into a popular chain — though he did face criticism and was fined by the city when he served diners indoors during the pandemic.

It was through Ann Sather that Tunney rose to prominence: He became a leader of the Illinois Restaurant Association, founded the Lakeview Center Business Association and allowed local groups to use Ann Sather for meetings and forums.

Tunney was nominated by former Mayor Richard M. Daley to succeed former Ald. Bernie Hansen in the 44th Ward. He was unanimously confirmed and won an election bid to keep his seat in 2003.

Under Daley and former Mayor Rahm Emanuel’s leadership, Tunney chaired the Committee on Special Events, Cultural Affairs and Recreation, as well as the Committee on Economic Development, Capital and Technology, respectively.

Since Lightfoot’s election, Tunney has served as chair of the Committee on Zoning, Landmarks and Building Standards, as well as chair of the Special Committee on the Chicago Casino.

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