DuPage Dems Difference Maker – Tina Tyson Dunne
Tina has been strongly involved with politics in DuPage since the 2016 cycle. In 2016, she worked with Bernie’s Northern IL Group and then moved on to Hillary for America after the primary. After the 2016 General, she became involved with the DuPage Dems on a number of action teams, PR & Graphics, Election Protection and Gala Planning, as well as transitioning from Election Judge to Precinct Committeeperson. In the 2018 cycle, in addition to working for a number of candidates and working her precinct for all democratic candidates, Tina was a field organizer for Senator Tom Cullerton over Wayne Township and a part of Cook County. In 2019, Tina ran a great race for Trustee in Lombard, and even though she didn’t win in the 2019 cycle, Tina has a bright future ahead, and we look forward to any future endeavors she decides to take. In addition to political work in DuPage, Tina has done a lot of volunteer work with the DuPage Forest Preserve, gained her master naturalist through the University of Illinois extension and worked with the Sierra Club Illinois chapter, Audubon Society, Nature Conservancy and Show Leopard Foundation. Below is some more information about Tina, in her own words, check out the full story here.
Looking back on the part of my life that helped shape my political voice has been a bit chilling this week with the murder of journalist Lyra McKee by two men from the New IRA. The professor who inspired my political start continues to work on the troubles in Derry and Northern Ireland. She advised my first master thesis for NUI Galway on Éamon De Valera’s Chicago base while campaigning across America for over a year to gain financial support for Ireland’s move for Independence from England. Because Ireland, then and now, has so many different political parties my advisor encouraged me to do some work with a political party that best aligned with my own political persuasions to better understand the Irish system. I was also about to start a second master’s program at Trinity College Dublin as I was writing my first thesis, and was connected with a fellow graduate, Leo Varadkar’s city council campaign. I really enjoyed the work and stayed involved as he moved on to run for Ireland’s Dáil Éireann as a Teachta Dala (similar to our congress) during my years living in Ireland. Leo is currently Ireland’s Taoiseach (Prime Minster) and first came out when they allowed gay marriage in 2015, and is also first Taoiseach of Indian/Irish decent. I proudly followed one of his first acts as Taoiseach to bring a referendum on abortion, which passed last year. On the various Irish campaigns I learned how proportional representation by the single transferable vote system works verses our electoral system. Ireland also has many strict campaign laws from yard signs, ads, canvassing and spending that we could benefit from here State side! I also volunteered on the legislative side in the Dáil Éireann and had the opportunity to see firsthand how coalition governments work, as with so many parties in their system no one party has ruled for many years. I met my husband while over in Ireland refereeing a tag summer rugby league and we married there. I also benefitted from what living in a socialized medical system was like, and watched a student body fully protest when fees were raised €5 when at the time it was only €250 per year to go to college! I worked in tax accounting, and saw how the country’s social system worked first hand with the taxing side. Irish people as a whole believe in the betterment for all, so paying taxes to make sure their neighbor has healthcare is a no brainer. In 2007 England was hit with the sup-prime mortgage crisis, also effecting Ireland, and we decided to start our visa process to move to the US as things were getting unstable. That was the start of our ridiculous battle with our fractured immigration system which cost us tens of thousands to get my husband into the US, which on the flip side the Irish government granted me a resident visa free of charge since my husband was Irish.
When we decided to leave Ireland, I knew we wouldn’t have vacation time like Europe granted us, so we took nearly two months and went to Africa on an overland trip from Kenya to South Africa camping our way through the bush and savanna doing volunteer work along the way with wildlife and community groups. While in Africa, the US financial crash hit, so our job transfers had been rescinded by email upon arriving to the US as we both worked for global accounting firms that were making huge cuts. I struggled with some odd health problems after returning to the US, and finally in 2015 I was diagnosed with a brain tumor on my pituitary, that at first didn’t seem to pose a major threat. Later at my six month checkup it had grown significantly and I needed to quickly have surgery but had a possibility of losing my sight in the process. We thankfully had great insurance, I had one of the best brain surgeons in the country and surgery went perfect, and never once did I worry about it becoming a preexisting condition. Like most I didn’t really get overly involved politically until the 2016 cycle but did a lot of work volunteering through the DuPage Forest Preserve, gained my master naturalist through the University of Illinois extension and continued to do work with Sierra Club Illinois chapter, Audubon Society, Nature Conservancy and Snow Leopard Foundation. I did volunteer work with Bernie’s Northern IL group phone banking and canvassing and then moved on to Hillary for America after the primary primarily doing phone banking at DPDC and other locations locally. After the 2016 General, like many I saw the outcome coming long before, but I was worried more on a personal level on how I would pay for my continued care for yearly scans needed with my brain surgery after care, as my tumor has a high chance of coming back. Thoughts of taking my chances with losing my sight and not having had the surgery had I known this would be the choice I was going to be facing now if ACA was stripped was realistically crossing my mind the night I came home from delivering the ballots at the election commission and I realized Hillary had lost for sure. As soon as ACA started getting attacked I worked with Durbin, Duckworth and Raja sharing my personal story and my own fears like so many of now being someone who would be on the pre-existing list of patients republicans were so willing to cut from coverage and how it would affect my treatment going forward and the possible option of even moving back to Ireland if I became uninsurable. In January I became part of the PR & Graphics, Election Protection, and Gala Planning teams. I soon took over as a leader for the PR & Graphics team. I was in charge of organizing the audio, video, and photography technical aspects for the 2017 and 2018 Gala. Previously I was an election judge and now a precinct committeeman for York 51. I proudly walk for all candidates and have worked for Senator Tom Cullerton as a field organizer over Wayne Township and part of Cook Co. for the 2018 campaign where I was a known Republican flipper. I volunteered with the Kennedy field team on a near full time basis the last months of the primary, focusing on DuPage efforts in combination with other local Democrats up and down the ballot and precincts that weren’t covered by PC’s. I gave my first try at running for office this past cycle here in Lombard for Village Trustee in District 5, I didn’t win, but as many of my great friends have pointed out, it can often take a few tries before you make it. Many who know me well know another position I have been eyeing for a few years, so stay tuned, I may be asking for your help with petitions this September! I’m a firm believer in knocking doors to educate voters about candidates and even in my own precinct have never been afraid to hit the mixed households as I never want to miss a possible Dem vote. Some of my best conversations have been with Republicans who feel their party has left them, and though we may not agree on all issues there is much more we have in common than not that it’s worth the time to have that conversation with them. And my biggest focus is to ask a question or two and listen; so many people feel they aren’t being heard on both sides of the aisle. We all have to get out and work hard for every Democrat up and down the ballot in the 2020 primary and general, we can’t take our foot off the gas of that giant wave will become a tiny ripple.