Alderman Dick Mell denies report of retirement

January 4, 2013 4:32:31 PM PST
Alderman Dick Mell is denying a published report that he is planning to retire.

In an exclusive television interview, the Chicago alderman told ABC7's Jessica D'Onofrio he has no plans to retire.

Mell is the second longest-serving alderman in Chicago's City Council.

Mell told ABC7 Friday morning that he is not ready to step down, contrary to a report in the Chicago Sun-Times.

Mell said he admits he has mentioned retirement in the past, but he is just not ready to go yet.

"The next couple of months, no. Sometime, maybe, but not in the next couple of months," Mell said.

After 38 years as alderman of the 33rd Ward on the Northwest Side, Mell dispelled rumors that he will be stepping down in the next few months.

"I've talked about this for the last five years," said Mell. "When winter comes, I think about being down in Florida for a couple of months."

Mell said that he has no plans to go anywhere, despite the article saying he told his associates it's time to say good-bye.

The powerful and influential alderman, who was elected back in 1975, wants his constituents to know he is staying put.

"We'll be here shoveling snow for them, like we normally do if it's the winter," said Mell. "I've liked this job. I try to do the best I can. We've got a great ward. We got great people. It's a great city. There's a lot of things I'd like to accomplish yet."

The 74-year-old Mell was a central figure during the so-called "Council Wars" of the 1980s .

For the past 38 years he's been the quintessential deal maker but he denied reports he's working on a final deal to get the mayor to appoint his daughter, State Representative Deb Mell to take his place as alderman.

Deb Mell wrote on her Twitter account Thursday, "Whereas I am truly honored to receive so many wonderful messages, I am 100% focused and love my job as State Rep of the 40th district."

Former Alderman and current Cook County Board President Toni Preckwinkle served alongside Alderman Dick Mell for nearly 20 years.

"I've met Deb Mell and worked with her in Springfield. She's a smart and talented person. I think she'll be a great addition to the city council," she said.

"I think his hopes have always been that she would succeed him," Preckwinkle said.

Mayor Rahm Emanuel could make such an appointment if Alderman Mell leaves his seat mid-term the mayor danced around that question.

"Wherever she goes in public service she's going to be an addition," Emanuel said. "That said, no decision has been made by Dick Mell. And there's no decision or person to talk about before that."

"There's some credence that this may be a trial balloon, and they want to see if there's a violent reaction against it. But I think that this is in line with the way Chicago politics is done," ABC7 Political Analyst Laura Washington said.

"I would love to see that happen, but that's not necessarily a possibility," said Dick Mell. "If I stay the whole term, if she decides to run, there will be other people obviously running against her, and if I step out and she's appointed, which I'm not sure that she's going to be, and I'm not sure she wants to be, then there would be a special election."

If he does decide to leave in the future, Dick Mell said, it would be very hard for him to say good-bye to a job he has known for so long.

But he did say, eventually, he wants to spend more time with his grandchildren.