Zoning Chair Tunney won’t seek reelection

Alderperson joins wave of Council members leaving their positions

Chicago mayor Lori Lightfoot and former alderman Tom Tunney (Getty, Tom Tunney)
Chicago mayor Lori Lightfoot and former alderman Tom Tunney (Getty, Tom Tunney)

The Chicago Zoning Committee will soon need a new chairperson.

Alderperson Tom Tunney, who fills that seat and has represented the 44th Ward for 20 years, announced he is retiring from the City Council, which he has said is “not a good place to work these days,” the Chicago Sun-Times reported.

Earlier this month, Tunney informed the media that he was planning to take time off during the council’s August recess to decide whether to seek a new term as alderman, challenge the mayor for her seat or retire altogether.

Immediately after the announcement, his longtime chief of staff, Bennett Lawson, entered the race to fill the vacant seat with Tunney’s “strong endorsement.”

Tunney, who will stay through the end of his term, joins a wave of alderpersons exiting the city council, leading to what will be a very different-looking assembly next year.

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Mayor Lightfoot has already filled two vacant council seats after convicted Ald. Patrick Daley Thompson and Ald. Michael Scott Jr. resigned. Nicole Lee, the Council’s first Chinese American representative replaced Thompson and Scott’s sister Monique took his seat. Ald. Michelle Smith also resigned earlier this month, which offered Lightfoot the rare opportunity to appoint a third Council member.

In addition to the three seats Lightfoot filled in earnest, four alderpersons said they won’t seek reelection, and three intend to challenge the mayor for her seat.
Ald. Howard Brookins may be another that won’t seek reelection, depending on the results of an ethics board hearing about his law practice. Lightfoot’s deputy leader, Ald. George Cardenas is also likely to leave the council, as he is working toward winning a seat on the Cook County Board of Review.

Tunney, who was the first openly gay alderperson in Chicago, hasn’t announced if he will challenge the mayor in the upcoming election, but that door is now open.

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