Chrisisms: Thomas McNamara aims to change what frustrates him

Editor’s note: This column was written and submitted prior to the April 9 election in which Thomas McNamara (D) defeated incumbent Doug Mark (R) and challenger Maurice A. West (I) to become Rockford’s next Third Ward alderman. McNamara was still in his 20s at the time the column was written, but has since turned 30.

By Chris Wachowiak

Thomas McNamara has already sat on many boards and community groups, including, but not limited to: Ignite, Rockford Area Arts Council, Impact Council, Next Rockford and Signal Hill, to name a few.

At a young age, Tom was raised in a family of active community members. His family instilled a sense of community pride and involvement requiring participation. A motto of “you’re more than welcome to sit around and complain, but it wouldn’t do as much good as doing something about changing what frustrates you.”

He went away to college, and went right on to his master’s in non-profit administration and utilizes that on many of the boards he sits on in our community.

After college, Tom moved back to Rockford for two reasons. Reason one: Family. Being one of six kids and having 11 nieces and nephews, Tom did not want to miss out on being active in their lives. Reason two: He believes Rockford is an amazing place where one can make a direct impact.

Today, Tom works as an insurance agent at a local agency. He is also one of three candidates for Third Ward alderman (which also has another 20-something running, Maurice A. West).

Running against an incumbent like Doug Mark will not be an easy win, but it appears he approaches this race with a tenacity. Currently, he works an average of 55 hours a week, then adds another 20-plus hours on a week for all the boards he sits on, and then still finds some time to be a husband. Tom believes none of this would be possible if he didn’t have the support from his wife and family.

Since he’s leaving the 20-something group, I asked Tom what would he like to pass on to the next generation of 20-somethings. He replied, get mentored.

Tom believes that getting mentored has been one of his biggest growth resources, both in business and life. More than that, he is ready to pass the torch and help mentor others.

If there is one message Tom wanted to pass on, it is for employers to encourage young workers to get involved on boards and community groups. Lead by example, because these two things can make a significant impact on our next generation and our community at the same time. We need the older generation to extend an offering to the next to get involved.

Tom believes he can create a direct impact in our community, and that’s why he is running for Third Ward alderman. Here are a couple of his stances: 1. He is pro geographic policing. Crime being an obvious hot button for anyone. 2. Programs to help redirect our property values utilizing programs like “community land trusts” and having an inventory list of foreclosed properties. 3. Looking for a strategic money dispensement, not every ward gets the same amount. You should advocate for your ward, but more importantly, you should advocate for the betterment of your city.

You may see Tom or his family knocking on your door soon, or in our community, as he was just in Rockford’s St. Patrick’s Day parade. Tom is already putting his time and effort into our community, regardless of this latest campaign. Win or lose in this election, I’m willing to bet you will read more about the change Tom will create in our community in the near future.

Chris Wachowiak is owner of Kryptonite Bar, 308 W. State St., No. 110, Rockford. Read his blog at Do you know a 20-something who is doing something unique and should be recognized? E-mail Chris at and tell him who, why and how to contact them.

From the April 17-23, 2013, issue

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