Mayor Rahm Emanuel says Mell, as the council's first out lesbian, will bring a unique perspective. But not all were convinced she's the right choice. Mary Ann Ahern reports.
Can we get a drum roll …
The City of Chicago is pleased to introduce your next 33rd Ward alderman.
It’s Deborah Mell, daughter of Richard Mell, the guy who just resigned his seat after one of the longest tenures in the City Council.
Chicago Mayor Rahm Emanuel chose State Rep. Deborah Mell, a political scion, to fill the seat of retiring Ald. Mell, also known as Rod Blagojevich’s father-in-law. The 75-year-old alderman submitted his resignation to Mayor Emanuel in early July after nearly 40 years as a Northwest Side council man.
"As you know the 33rd ward has been a huge part of my life, and I am honored to represent it," Mell said during the brief Wednesday announcement. "I am ready to serve and work hard on their behalf."
Emanuel said he would entertain all qualified candidates for the seat and that Deborah Mell wouldn’t be a shoo-in. Emanuel promised a “blue ribbon” commission to find the best replacement possible.
In the end, Chicago’s mayor chose nepotism.
"It would be equally unfair to her and the city just to not appoint her because of her last name," Emanuel said Wednesday.
"When she takes a position that she thinks is right she speaks up for it," he said. "That is a model of what a representative should do."
Deborah Mell will become the council’s first openly gay woman.
She said earlier this year that her only regret for jumping from the legislature to the council would come from not being able to vote on a Same-Sex Marriage bill for
She has represented Illinois’ 40th district since 2008 in the state legislature. In 2009 she cast the only vote opposing the impeachment of her brother-in-law Rod Blagojevich.
"I promise to work with the other alderman and the mayor to make Chicago a better place for everyone," she said.