Why Deb Mell Was The Most Qualified Candidate (by Deb Mell)

To all you cynics who think nepotism was at work in the appointment of Deb Mell to her father’s seat on the City Council: Ward Room has a copy of Deb’s letter to Mayor Rahm Emanuel, requesting the job, and NOT ONCE does she mention she’s Dick Mell’s daughter.

You’d think if Deb were really trying to ride her family connections into office, she’d drop the old man’s name, but she doesn’t. She asks to be judged only on her own qualifications as a state representative, which she amassed after her father forced out Rep. Rich Bradley, so Deb could get the experience she would one day need to take his place on the City Council. 

But that’s another story. This is the Deb Mell story:
STRENGTHS you possess that make you the most qualified candidate to be Alderman of the 33rd Ward. 

As a resident of the 33rd ward for most of my life, I am the most qualified candidate for the position of Alderman because of my experience serving the majority of the residents of the 33rd Ward as State Representative of the 40th District since 2009. My constituents demonstrated their confidence in me by electing me three times.  This experience gave me the ability to build consensus among divergent groups and craft impactful solutions to address community needs.

My hands-on leadership style makes me a great candidate for this position. The place for an advocate of the people is not behind a desk. I make personal connections with my constituents out in the neighborhood rather than waiting for them to come to my office. I attend CAPS meetings, community meetings, police department roll calls and ride-alongs with Streets and Sanitation to locate and remove graffiti.  These activities help me better understand the safety issues in my area and help shape my legislative agenda in Springfield.  I will bring this approach and practice to my work in the City Council.   As a public servant, I need to examine every tax dollar spent.  Since 2009, I returned over $76,000 to the State of Illinois from my district office allotment.  Through my service on the Human Services and Elementary and Secondary Education Appropriation committees, I cut waste and reduced state spending. 

As representative, my primary focus is constituent service.  That dedicated focus will continue in my new role.  In addition to normal business hours, I will restore “ward office night” and be open one Saturday a month. I will send weekly emails with neighborhood activities, updates and information, and I will tweet alerts of crime, flooding and other time sensitive issues immediately.

I grew up here.  My neighbors and I share the same goals; to live in safety, maintain community, boost economic stability, educate our children and raise a family.  I love my community and my city and will work very hard for the residents of the 33rd Ward and the City of Chicago.

The most PRESSING ISSUES facing the 33rd Ward and the City of Chicago? What are your ideas for ADDRESSING THEM?

Schools/Education  The growth of the ward and influx of young families depends upon continued improvement in our schools.  Earlier this year, after attending a Roosevelt High School LSC meeting, I wrote to the Mayor requesting surplus TIF funds be made available to the school.  I believe this should be regular practice.  TIF funds can be a great tool for neighborhood and economic development, but not at the expense of critical ward infrastructure, including schools.   

Gang/Gun Violence and Public Safety One shooting in our community is one too many. We need educational outreach for parents and community members to build awareness of gangs and affiliations. Other communities make great use of neighborhood based “positive loitering” activities that build relationships between neighbors and create a positive presence in troubled areas.  I will create similar efforts in this ward. I will aggressively target troubled buildings and neglectful property owners, go on ride-alongs with the police department and monitor 311 and 911 calls to identify problem areas. 

Community Building  The ward should be a destination to live, work and play.  Small business development efforts foster growth and creation of neighborhoods with more walk-able options for shopping, dining and entertainment. The industrial triangle between Belmont and Diversey along the river invites creative ideas for neighborhood development.  I will convene an inclusive group of stakeholders and neighbors to brainstorm ideas for the best uses for the space such as arts and entertainment, small business, urban agriculture and other creative suggestions.   Infrastructure Infrastructure improvement is critical to the continuous development of the ward. I will work to bring state, county and federal capital dollars to the ward to address flooding and sewer issues, build a new Independence Park Library and begin discussions for a continuous river path connecting the northwest side of Chicago to downtown. 
In at least one respect, Deb Mell’s ascension to the City Council is historic: she’s the first openly gay or lesbian child of an alderman to be appointed to take her father’s seat on the City Council. So let’s not hear anything else about nepotism. At least not until 2043, when Deb hands the 33rd Ward off to Amy Blagojevich.
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