BY TRACY BAIM
Dr. Ron Sable paved the way, as did the successful campaigns of state Rep. Larry McKeon and judges Tom Chiola and Sebastion Patti.
On Feb. 25, Chicagoans elected the first openly gay alderman to serve in the City Council, and Tom Tunney did not forget his roots when he thanked hundreds of supporters gathered at the Vic Theater election night. He told everyone to remember the work that Sable did in running twice for 44th Ward alderman—more than 15 years later, Tunney made history.
In the 44th, openly gay attorney Rick Ingram had 23% of the vote (2,280 votes to Tunney's 6,013, or 59% of the vote). Attorney Dean Maragos was third with 13% (1,343), followed by Karen Kennedy at 3% (296) and Matthew Fordham at 2% (193).
'I am so happy, Tom has really been there for everyone,' said activist Vernita Gray.
'Times have changed in Chicago,' said Victory Fund Political Director Bob Kearney. 'Chicago was the largest city in America to have never elected a gay person to its Council. 44th Ward voters said resoundingly that Tom Tunney is their choice for the job. They also expressed confidence in gay office seekers by choosing the two gay candidates as the No. 1 and No. 2 finishers.'
In one of the only real shockers Feb. 25, incumbent 35th Ward Ald. Vilma Colom lost her rematch against Rey Colon, and it wasn't even close. Colon had 4,444 (58%) to Colom's 3,212 (42%).
Colon had many GLBT supporters who helped put him over the top.
Some incumbents will face a runoff April 1, including Ted Thomas in the 15th, against challenger Bob Love, a former Bulls basketball star. Freddrenna Lyle faces a runoff in the 6th, and 1st Ward Ald. Jesse Granato will go head-to-head with Manny Flores, who was just slightly ahead.
In a surprise move, Ald. Rafael Frias, who was facing run-off against second-place George Cardenas, who had just slighter more votes than the incumbent in the Feb. 25 election, has dropped out of the April 1 run-off.
Now Cardenas will face third-place Jose 'Chavelo' Rodriguez, who had just 420 votes. Ray Frias had gotten 50 fewer votes than Cardenas, who had 2,173.