There’s a battle of minority quotas taking place in the 33rd Ward.
State Rep. Deb Mell is applying to replace her father, Ald. Richard Mell, who is retiring after 38 years on the City Council. But if Mell gets her father’s seat -- which seems like a fait accompli, this being Chicago -- she wants a lesbian to replace her in the General Assembly. The Associated Press reports that Mell “doesn't want the number of gay members to be reduced by her leaving.”
Dick Mell is also 33-rd Ward committeeman, and controls nearly half the weighted vote necessary to name his daughter’s replacement. However, appointing a lesbian could mess up his political calculations -- unless he can find one named Xochitl or Consuelo. Along with Ed Burke and John Pope, Mell is one of the Council’s Old Gringos -- Anglo aldermen representing Latino-majority wards. When he backed his daughter’s appointment to the council, Dick Mell also announced his support for his aldermanic aide, Jaime Andrade, to replace her as state representative. Ever the operator, the alderman is offering something for every constituency in his ward. The move seemed to have prevented Latinos from trying to claim the City Council seat. As the Sun-Times reported:
Barring a last-minute change-of-heart, the chairman of the City Council’s Hispanic Caucus said Thursday’s he’s decided not to send a letter to Mayor Rahm Emanuel urging the mayor to appoint a Hispanic replacement for retiring Ald. Richard Mell (33rd).
Ald. Danny Solis (25th) said the eight Hispanic aldermen who comprise the caucus’ executive committee are evenly divided on the issue of pressuring the mayor, given their respect for Dick Mell and their admiration for his daughter, State Rep. Deb Mell (D-Chicago), who remains the odds-on favorite to fill her father’s City Council seat.
“I’m one of the four who doesn’t think it’s a good idea, considering who Dick Mell is, the qualifications of Deb Mell, the fact the 33rd ward is 51 percent Hispanic and the fact we’ll be getting a Hispanic state representative to replace Deb Mell” if the mayor chooses her to replace her retiring father, Solis said.
On Dick Mell’s City Council biography, he boasts that he “[s]et new city ethnic codes for elected officials.” Maybe this is what he meant.