Tom Tunney

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Thomas M. Tunney
Member of the
Chicago City Council
from the 44th Ward
Assumed office
January 2003
Preceded by Bernie Hansen
Personal details
Born (1955-08-22) August 22, 1955 (age 61)
Chicago, Illinois
Political party Democratic
Residence Chicago, Illinois

Thomas M. Tunney (born August 22, 1955) is an American entrepreneur and politician from Chicago, Illinois. Since 2003, he has served as an alderman on the Chicago City Council. He represents the prominent 44th Ward of the city, which includes major tourist destinations, Boystown and Wrigleyville neighborhoods.


Tunney was born and raised in the southwest side of Chicago. After graduating from Brother Rice, 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.


Returning from college, Tunney moved into the Lakeview neighborhood. Hearing that Ann Sather was retiring and closing her 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 local chain.[1][2]

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.[3]

Public service[edit]

Tunney 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.[citation needed]

Tunney chaired the small business subcommittee of the Chicago Economic Development Committee. Mayor Richard M. Daley appointed Tunney to the mayor's Parking Task Force.[citation needed]


In 2002, just months before the 2003 municipal elections, 44th Ward Alderman Bernie Hansen announced that he would retire. Hansen resigned just months before the election so as to allow the mayor to appoint the replacement alderman. Mayor Richard M. Daley, with Hansen's consent, nominated Tunney to replace Hansen in December 2002. Tunney's nomination was confirmed by a 41–0 vote of the city council on January 16, 2003, and, with wide support in the Democratic Party, Tunney was elected to a four-year term as alderman on February 25, 2003. He has been re-elected three times, in 2007, 2011, and 2015.

During his campaign Tunney claimed that he would address the potential conflict of interest which would arise through his business arrangements by selling his interest in four restaurants. After being elected and sworn in, Tunney decided not to sell.[4]

Tunney introduced an ordinance repealing Chicago's ban on foie gras in July 2007 and spearheaded passage of the repeal on May 14, 2008.[5][6]

Tunney denied unattributed published reports that he supports moving or demolish the iconic scoreboard at Wrigley Field to clear the view for nearby rooftops owners.[7][8] Yet, despite his earlier denial at attempting to gain extra clearance for rooftop owners, Tunney demanded a reduction in the size of the proposed scoreboard.[9]


Tunney is the cousin of Robin Tunney, who plays Agent Lisbon on The Mentalist.[10]

Tunney was the first openly gay Chicago Alderman.[11][12]


  1. ^ Mihalopoulos, Dan (2 May 2008). "What's your alderman's side job?". Chicago Tribune. Retrieved 2009-07-08. 
  2. ^ Spielman, Fran (2007-05-02). "Ald. Burke loses 10 blue-chip clients; replaces them". Chicago Sun-Times. 
  3. ^ "Inductees to the Chicago Gay and Lesbian Hall of Fame". Retrieved 23 June 2016. 
  4. ^ "Tunney won't sell". Windy City Times. 2003-07-02. Retrieved 2009-07-15. 
  5. ^ Davis, Andrew (2008-05-21). "Tunney and the foie gras repeal". Windy City Times. Retrieved 2009-07-31. 
  6. ^ Davey, Monica (2008-05-15). "Ban Lifted, Foie Gras Is Back on the Menu in Chicago". The New York Times. Retrieved 2009-07-31. 
  7. ^ Chumley, Cheryl K. (21 March 2013). "Chicago politico proposes tearing down Wrigley Field scoreboard". Washington Times. Retrieved 21 March 2013. 
  8. ^ Dardick, Hal; Byrne, John (2013-03-21). "Is Tunney being unfairly knocked in Wrigley talks?". Chicago Tribune. Retrieved 2013-03-21. 
  9. ^ Hinz, Greg (26 June 2013). "Tunney demands big changes in Wrigley 'framework'". Chicago Business. Retrieved 23 June 2016. 
  10. ^ Crowder, Courtney (21 September 2010). "Palos Heights native wears a smile on CBS' 'Mentalist'". Chicago Tribune. Retrieved 2010-10-15. 
  11. ^ "Catching up with Tom Tunney". 
  12. ^ "City Council to form five-member Gay Caucus". Chicago Sun-Times. 

External links[edit]