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Lakeview, Wrigleyville, Northalsted

Bennett Lawson Elected 44th Ward Alderman After Running Unopposed To Succeed His Boss, Tom Tunney

Lawson has served as chief of staff to powerful 44th Ward Ald. Tom Tunney since 2007. Tunney is retiring in May.

Bennett Lawson
Provided/Bennett Lawson
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LAKEVIEW — Bennett Lawson, chief of staff to outgoing 44th Ward Ald. Tom Tunney, has won the race to replace him in Tuesday’s election.

Lawson was unchallenged in the race after his sole competitor, certified paralegal Nathan Bean, was knocked off the ballot in January due to a technicality.

“I feel wonderful,” Lawson said after polls closed Tuesday evening. “I have been proud of the six-month campaign we’ve put together and beyond that, my 18 years of service in the community, which is why I think I’m where I’m at tonight. People know me and have faith in my leadership going forward.”

Lawson celebrated his victory with an election party at El Jardin, 3335 N. Clark St. He was joined by more than a dozen family members, including his husband, sister and parents, as well as staff from the 44th Ward office and Lawson’s campaign team.

Tunney, who started the day with Lawson by dropping off brownies from Ann Sather to every polling place in the 44th Ward, was also in attendance, Lawson said.

“The plan was to do something low-key since I didn’t have anyone on the ballot, but that changed quickly,” Lawson said.

Lawson, who lives in Lakeview with his husband, has served as Tunney’s chief of staff since 2007 and previously worked as the ward’s director of community outreach.

Before joining Tunney’s office, Lawson worked as Sen. Carol Ronen’s district director, where he was responsible for constituent services, according to his campaign website. He’s also the “proud son of a teacher” and attended public schools.

Throughout Lawson’s tenure in the 44th Ward, he has helped with projects like the Center on Halsted’s construction, the redevelopment of the old Town Hall Police Station into an LGBTQ senior living facility and the construction of Howard Brown Health’s health clinic.

Lawson also helped with the Whole Foods and Mariano’s developments and pushed to increase affordable housing within Lakeview, according to his campaign website. He’s also worked closely with the local police district on crime prevention strategies.

Lawson, who grew up in northern Illinois and moved to Chicago to attend Loyola University, has also said he’s passionate about LGBTQ outreach, HIV/AIDS services and prevention and helping nonprofits obtain funding.

Key issues Lawson’s campaign has highlighted include public safety, transportation, transparency and accountability, small business development, housing affordability and develop and education.

“Keeping strong constituent services in the 44th Ward is a priority for me, and I am working closely with Ald. Tom Tunney to ensure a smooth transition,” Lawson previously said.

The 44th Ward includes most of Lakeview, including the bustling Wrigleyville and Northalsted entertainment districts.

Outgoing Ald. Tunney announced his retirement plans in August after being floated as a potential candidate to challenge Mayor Lori Lightfoot in the 2023 election. Tunney eventually threw his weight behind former Chicago Public Schools CEO Paul Vallas in the race. He stood on stage with Vallas during his Tuesday night celebration for making it to the runoff as the frontrunner.

Tunney served as alderman for 19 years since being elected in 2003 as Chicago’s first openly gay alderperson. He’s become a significant figure in the city, being elected to vice mayor in 2019.

Tunney, who owns the popular Ann Sather restaurants since taking over the business in the ’80s, has said he will continue to advocate for the business community in his retirement.

Tunney has said Lawson is a “leader that knows how to balance local business interests with the quality of life of our residents.”

“For nearly two decades, Bennett has been an invaluable asset to this ward as he has tirelessly advocated for its residents and businesses alike, offering pragmatic solutions and meeting constituent needs,” Tunney said.

The outgoing alderman promised a “seamless transition of leadership” when he retires in May.

“I’ve been fortunate to work alongside Ald. Tunney for many years to make Lakeview a vibrant place for our residents, and I’m honored that he is putting his trust in me to continue a steady legacy of service to our community,” Lawson said.

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