A poll commissioned by Tom Tunney's campaign for 44th Ward alderman shows the recently appointed candidate with a wide lead in the Feb. 25 city elections.
The poll of 350 registered voters by the nationally respected polling firm of Anzalone-Liszt Research asked voters a range of questions, including their support of Mayor Daley, retiring Ald. Bernie Hansen, and the aldermanic candidates.
While a larger number of voters—42 percent—said they were still undecided in the 44th Ward race, another 42 percent said they would vote for Tunney. Attorneys Rick Ingram (6 percent) and Dean Maragos (5 percent) were far behind, with Karen Kennedy at 3 percent and Matt Fordham at 1 percent.
While some have used Mayor Daley's appointment of Tunney against him during the campaign, the poll showed that 49 percent of voters are more likely to vote for Tunney because of the Mayor's support. Thirteen percent say it makes them less likely to vote for Tunney, while 38 percent said it makes no difference.
Outgoing Ald. Bernie Hansen received a 68 percent favorable rating in the poll and a 20 percent unfavorable, so his support of Tunney is also not expected to have much negative fallout.
One surprise in the poll came when voters were asked if they were more or less likely to vote for an openly gay candidate. Fifteen percent said they were more likely, six percent less likely, and a huge 80 percent said it makes no difference. This is perhaps one of the biggest indications that the ward—and the city—have changed greatly since the days when Dr. Ron Sable ran for alderman, in 1987 and 1991.
While Tunney shows a wide lead over his opponents, the winner must receive more than 50% of the vote to avoid a run-off election. This means the top two vote getters may square off after the Feb. 25 election.
Each of the candidates is intensely lobbying all parts of the ward. Tunney, Ingram and Moragos all attended the Equality Illinois gala Saturday night, and Tunney held a special press conference for the gay media Sunday morning with about 50 GLBTs and pro-gays who support Tunney because of his work on behalf of the community.
Special host for the event, at Roscoe's gay bar, was former U.S. Sen. Carol Moseley-Braun. Featured speakers were lesbian activist Laurie Dittman and Michael Frantz, a gay sports activist who is also living with AIDS. All three spoke of Tunney's long-time involvement in GLBT and AIDS causes.
Among those attending the event were: Rep. Larry McKeon, Chuck Renslow, Renae Ogletree, Joel Hall, Jackie Kaplan, Brandon Neese, Greg Harris, Brent Adams, Michael Bauer, Roger Simon, Troy Ford, Mark Ishaug, Kelly Cassidy, Kathleen Adamick, Vicky Ramont, Phil Burgess, Jim Snyder, Vernita Gray, Pat Gilbert, and more.
'The man has a huge, unwavering loyalty to the entire ward,' Frantz said.
Dittman, a policy analyst in the Mayor's Office for People with Disabilities, said lesbians support Tunney 'because he's been there for us and has fought for issues we care about.'
'I have never met anyone who is more dedicated to the GLBT community,' Moseley-Braun said.
Tunney also told the crowd that he would be introducing an ordinance Monday to downzone key areas along the North Lakefront, including Halsted Street. The plan would reduce the height and density ceiling for sections of Halsted, Southport and the Jane Addams Hull House site at 3212 N. Broadway.
Much of Tunney's plan is based on 46th Ward Ald. Helen Shiller's downzoning initiative for the northern end of Halsted. Tunney's proposal would extend her zoning designations south on Halsted to Diversey.
Tunney is also putting together a 44th Ward Community Directed Development Council.
In an interesting twist in this year's aldermanic elections, Mayor Daley is endorsing Shiller in her re-election bid. Last time, he backed Shiller's challenger, Sandra Reed. This time Reed, who is also Democratic Committeewoman of the 46th Ward, is facing Shiller without the clout of the mayor's office. Shiller, while she is still known as one of the few independent voices in the City Council, has worked with Daley more in recent years.
The Tunney Poll
The poll conducted by the Tunney campaign also revealed other interesting results from 44th Ward voters.
Voters were asked if they had a favorable rating of each of the race's candidates. Tunney had a 52 percent favorable, 4 percent unfavorable, and 45 percent could not rate him. His name recognition was 56 percent.
Ingram, according to the Tunney poll, had a 13 percent favorable rating, two percent unfavorable, and 85 percent could not rate him; he had 15 percent name recognition.
Moragos' name recognition was 17 percent; his favorable rating was 13 percent, unfavorable four percent, and 84 percent could not rate him.
Thirty-nine percent said they were more likely to back a candidate who is backed by the 44th Ward Democratic Party—the group which is backing Tunney. Forty-two percent said it makes no difference, while 19 percent were less likely to back that candidate.
Forty-two percent of voters were more likely to vote for a candidate backed by Ald. Hansen, 15 percent were less likely, and 42 percent said it made no difference.
Sixty-three percent of voters are more likely to vote for a candidate who pledges to be a full-time alderman. Both Tunney and Ingram have said they will be full-time, while Moragos said he will be giving up '99 percent' of his legal practice, which he owns with his father.
Seventy-two percent of voters think the 44th Ward is moving in the right direction.
Asked about specific issues, voters pointed to parking and traffic congestion as their No. 1 concern (41%). Next were controlling development (34 percent), property taxes (31 percent), improving schools (29 percent), and fighting crime (26 percent).
Just 13 percent listed Wrigley Field expansion as an important issue (this would likely be higher for areas immediately around the ballpark).
Ninety-five percent had a positive experience with the level of city services.
Despite education being a concern, 86 percent of those polled do not have school-age children. Of those who have children, a slight majority send them to private school (seven percent of voters vs. five percent attending public school).
On transportation, 59 percent use the El at least once a month.
The voters described themselves as: 91 percent white, one percent Black, three percent Hispanic, and the rest either 'other' or no answer.