Chicago zoning czar mulls quitting or running for mayor

Five-term alderman Tunney says city council is “not a good place to work”

Alderman Tom Tunney (44thWard.org, Illustration by Priyanka Modi for The Real Deal with Getty)
Alderman Tom Tunney (44thWard.org, Illustration by Priyanka Modi for The Real Deal with Getty)

Five-term Alderman Tom Tunney, chair of Chicago’s powerful Zoning Committee, may quit or even run for mayor, saying the City Council “is not a good place to work these days.”

The 44th Ward Alderman told the Sun-Times that he’s planning to take time off during the council’s August recess before deciding whether to give up on seeking a new term to focus on the Ann Sather restaurants he operates on a lease after cashing in on the 2019 sale of the retail real estate for $10 million. 

He’s also considering a campaign to challenge incumbent Mayor Lori Lightfoot for the city’s top office.

“Property taxes. Less police. It’s not a healthy platform to run on. … I am seriously considering running, and I’m also seriously considering not running,” Tunney told the outlet.

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Tunney said last month that Lightfoot will have a hard time getting a majority to support tying property tax rates to inflation, which, after the rapid increase in prices this year, could almost quadruple duties next year if implemented.

If he decides against seeking reelection, Tunney would be the eighth council member to do so and is the third member of Lightfoot’s leadership team to suggest a break with the mayor. The others are Workforce Development Committee Chair Susan Sadlowski Garza of the 10th Ward and Aviation Committee Chair Matt O’Shea of the 19th Ward.

Tunney has teased a potential mayoral campaign several times, though he never launched one, since being appointed as the council’s first openly gay alderman in 2002 by then-Mayor Richard M. Daley.

He drew Lightfoot’s ire in December 2020, when she said she was “deeply disappointed” that Lakeview’s Tunney allowed diners to eat inside his restaurant in defiance of an indoor dining ban imposed by Gov. J.B. Pritzker to control the coronavirus.

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Alderman Tom Tunney (44th) and Ann Sather restaurant at 909 West Belmont Avenue (Credit: 44th Ward)
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