Thursday is last day to apply for retiring Alderman Mell's seat

Thursday is the last day candidates can turn in an application for Chicago's 33rd Ward aldermanic seat vacated by current alderman Dick Mell, who is stepping down after 38 years.
July 11, 2013 4:12:21 PM PDT
Thursday is the last day candidates can turn in an application for Chicago's 33rd Ward aldermanic seat vacated by current alderman Dick Mell, who is stepping down after 38 years.

His daughter, State Representative Deb Mell, may be a favorite to be appointed in the now heavily Hispanic ward.

The new development in this story is that Latino politicians and activists want the mayor to consider Latino to be the appointed replacement for retiring Alderman Mell.

Spend time in Chicago's 33rd Ward and you'll notice that most of the people living there are Latino.

"The 33rd Ward has been drawn as a Latino super majority ward," said 22nd Ward Alderman Rick Munoz.

Munoz said the 33rd's population shifted to majority Hispanic 13 years ago.

He says that during the 2010 redistricting, the Northwest Side ward's overall population included 65 percent Latinos and its voting age population 54 percent.

So when Mell announced his retirement, Munoz and other Latino alderman had their own expectations.

"This vacancy gives Mayor Rahm Emanuel an opportunity to expand Latino empowerment by considering and appointing a Latino to that seat," Munoz said.

Among the applicants is the alderman's daughter, Deborah Mell, who has the support of her father.

"I think the mayor will make a decision and I will live by the decision the mayor makes," Dick Mell said.

Representative Mell refused an interview but said off camera that she "feels good" about her chances.

Latino activists fear if she's appointed, she'll have the job forever.

"Incumbency also is hugely powerful in re-election campaigns so whoever does get appointed will have a leg up in 2015," said Jorge Sanchez, Mexican American Legal Defense and Education Fund.

Jorge Maldef of the Mexican American Legal Defense and Education Fund is sending Emanuel a letter, urging the mayor to appoint a Latino with an unwritten warning that if he doesn't.

"I think he'll lose esteem and I think more people will begin to question his commitment to the Latino community," Maldef said.

Thursday afternoon, the mayor's office announced a five-member committee to screen applicants for the 33rd Ward appointment.

The mayor wants the appointee sworn in at the July 24 city council meeting.

The mayor's office has received 14 applications for the 33rd Ward aldermanic position. They are being vetting for residency and eligibility. The full list of names is expected to be released Friday after the vetting process is complete.


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