Tom Chiola, Illinois, 1994


In this photograph, Sebastian Patti and Tom Chiola are outside of their offices in the Daley Center. The plaza is home to the huge “Chicago Picasso” as the sculpture behind them is commonly called.

Tom Chiola

Born March 18, 1952

Cook County Circuit Court Judge

Chicago, Illinois

5 million constituents

Career Overview

Elected November 1994

Re-elected November 2000, 2006



About Tom Chiola from Out and Elected in the USA

Chiola became the first openly gay candidate to be elected to any federal, state county or municipal office in Illinois when he won his campaign for Judge of the Circuit Court of Cook County. He handles civil jury trials.

Prior to his election, Chiola served as the General Council for the Illinois Department of Professional Regulation, which licenses doctors, dentists, nurses, architects, engineers, and several dozen other professions. While serving as the Chief Administrative Law Judge for the department, he heard a variety of complex cases including physician malpractice resulting in severely injured patients, multi-million dollar fraud on public programs by pharmacists and inappropriate prescribing by “diet doctors.”

With the advent of the AIDS epidemic and the lack of legal service providers for people facing the effects of the virus, Chiola helped organize the first pro bono project for people with AIDS in Chicago in 1986. He now serves as a fund-raiser for a meals-on-wheels program. He also serves as a driver for the program, and he and his partner help stock shelves at the program’s grocery store.

Over the years, Chiola has worked with his contacts in state government and coalition groups lobbying for inclusion of sexual orientation in the Illinois Human Rights Act. His mother, a former Ms. Senior Illinois, was one of the witnesses in support of the bill and her testimony was broadcast on television through much of the state, and on National Public Radio.