By Jim Hagerty
CITY HALL – Four years ago, seven new aldermen were sworn in as Larry Morrissey began his third term as Mayor of Rockford.
Next Monday, six new council members will be take oaths to serve the city along with new Mayor Tom McNamara.
McNamara is not new to council though. The soon-to-be mayor is the current alderman of the 3rd Ward and, like Morrissey, will hand the baton off to a new leader. Republican Chad Tuneberg will take McNamara’s seat on the horseshoe next to five newly elected Democrats.
“We all have challenges ahead, but that is the reason we ran – to make Rockford a better place,” said Tuneberg, an advocate of non-partisan politics on the local level.
Tuneberg’s campaign was supported by both Republicans and Democrats, and he intends to look beyond those party lines when representing his ward, which includes much of downtown.
“Crime and potholes know no party lines,” he said. “(Non-partisan) elections force voters to look at a candidate’s experience, platform and vision for our community. It is about doing what is best for Rockford, not electing candidates just because their names are next to a ‘D’ or an ‘R.’”
The outgoing Morrissey made a plea to move beyond party politics in local races during his final State of the City address. “The current partisan model seems way out of touch with how we analyze, evaluate and implement ideas at the local level,” he said last month.
Morrissey has also called for at-large seats to be added to the council. Currently, the mayor is the only member of the city government structure subject to a city-wide vote. Morrissey says having three at-large seats would provide better representation for Rockford’s citizens.
McNamara has been busy getting to know each new alderman in addition to working with Morrissey to make his transition as seamless as possible.
“I am really excited to work with the new and returning council members,” McNamara said. “I have met with all six new members on a one-on-one basis, and held a new alderman orientation. I can see that all of the new alderman are passionate about serving their community and creating a positive impact on Rockford.”
After May 1, the Rockford City Council will comprise eight Democrats and six Republicans.
Rockford’s new aldermen
Jonathan Logemann take his seat after defeating Ned Friel and Aaron Tokarz in the Democratic primary in November. The Auburn High School teacher then defeated Republican incumbent Jamie Getchius. This is his first elected position.
Tuneberg is a first-term elected official. Like McNamara, he works in the financial services industry as managing director of Tuneberg Asset Management. The Rockford native graduated from Guilford High School and earned degrees from Southern Illinois and Duke universities.
Tuneberg had no opponent in the fall primary. He defeated Democrat Kayellen DiTomassi in the the general election. His wife, Leah Tuneberg, is executive director of the River District Association.
Democrat Natavias Ervins defeated Republican Craig Connell in the 6th Ward. Connell is the husband of current 6th Ward Alderman Pam Connell, who stepped down to run in the Republican primary for mayor, where she was edged by Brian Leggero. Ervins works in commercial construction and is employed by Ringland-Johnson.
Former Winnebago County Board member Karen Hoffman makes a return to elected public service. The Democrat defeated Alderman Jeanne Oddo, one of two independents unseated April 4.
A graduate of Rockford East High School and Rock Valley College, Hoffman is a retired state employee and a member of the Rockford Housing Authority Board of Commissioners. She’s been active in the Rolling Green Association and Rockford Neighborhood Network Board.
Democrat Bill Rose is a former high school teacher, and currently is the Career and Technical Education Director at East High School. He defeated Democratic challengers David Leonardis and Maria Saavedra in the primary before unseating independent Alderman Teena Newburg.
Rockford businessman Tuffy Quinonez makes his way to City Council after defeating Democrats Lisa Palmeno and two-term Alderman Karen Elyea in the 11th Ward primary. He was unopposed in the general election.
Aldermen Ann Tompson-Kelly, D-7; Frank Beach, R-10; John Beck, R-12; and Linda McNeely, R-13, retained their seats in the general election. Tim Durkee, R-1; and Kevin Frost, R-4, were unopposed.
This story has been updated to reflect Rose’s position at East High School.