Deb Mell said she’s trying not to have regrets.
The Northwest Side native who spent a decade in the culinary industry before returning home to become an activist for marriage equality first burst in Chicago’s political scene 15 years ago when she was arrested outside City Hall as part of a gay marriage demonstration.
"Eleven hours I was in the lockup," she told NBC 5.
A few years later, she ran in her first race and won as a state representative. In 2013, she was appointed by Mayor Rahm Emanuel to replace her father Richard Mell, becoming the Chicago’s first lesbian alderman.
Fast forward to 2019 and Mell found herself among the many city officials ousted in what’s being described as the "change election."
She lost her race by just 13 votes in a runoff.
"We were trying to unseat a dynasty," said her replacement Rosanna Rodriquez Sanchez.
Mell’s ties to politics extend beyond her father. Her brother-in-law is former Gov. Rod Blagojevich, who she hopes will someday be pardoned by President Donald Trump.
"I would like to see my sister have her husband back and my nieces have their father back," she said.
Looking back on her time as a city official, Mell wonders if she should have been more vocal.
"There were things at City Hall I wasn’t happy with," she said. "And I really wish I spoke up more."
Rodriguez Sanchez will become the first Latinx leader to represent the 33rd Ward. She joins four other aldermen who identify themselves as socialists.
Watch Mell’s full interview with NBC 5 below.