Chicago's first openly gay alderman might run to replace Daley

Wed. September 8, 2010 3:45 PM by Kevin Wayne

alderman tom tunney

photo credit // jay shaff

Field of candidates grows as gay-friendly Daley steps aside

Chicago, IL - Alderman Tom Tunney, the first openly gay member of the Chicago City Council, is being discussed as a potential mayoral candidate following Mayor Richard Daley's surprise announcement on Tuesday not to seek re-election in 2011.

Daley appointed Tunney in 2002 to replace Alderman Bernie Hansen in the 44th Ward which encompasses the Lakeview neighborhood, including the Boystown and Wrigleyville areas. He was then elected as alderman in Feb. 2003.

"I'm not a candidate at this point," the 55 year-old Tunney told the Chicago Tribune on Tuesday. "I think we really need time to absorb the impact of the mayor's statement today, and the fact he has been a terrific mayor."

A Chicago native, Tunney was raised on the southwest side and attended Brother Rice, a private Catholic high school. He received a bachelor's degree in restaurant management from the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign and a master's in hotel administration from Cornell University.

At age 23, Tunney bought the Ann Sather Restaurant in 1981 and turned it into a successful chain of restaurants.

Tunney founded the Lakeview Center Business Association and has been active in a number of neighborhood business and community groups including IMPACT and Human Rights Campaign. He has also served on the board of the North Halsted Merchants Association and was appointed by Daley to the city's Economic Development Commission.

In 1995, Tunney was inducted into the Chicago Gay and Lesbian Hall of Fame.

Other aldermen being discussed include Robert Fioretti (2nd), Sandi Jackson(7th), Thomas Allen (38th), Scott Waguespack (32nd), Pat O' Connor (40th) and Brendan Reilly (42nd).

Cook County Sheriff Tom Dart, Assessor James Houlihan and White House chief of staff Rahm Emanuel have all also been mentioned as possible candidates.

Tunney has not returned calls for comment from