Deb Mell sworn in as 33rd Ward alderman, replaces retiring father Dick Mell

July 24, 2013 (CHICAGO)

Former State Representative Deborah Mell was officially sworn in as Alderman of Chicago's 33rd Ward. Emanuel made the announcement Wednesday morning at the parks and recreation center in the ward where Mell grew up.

Her appointment comes as no surprise to anyone at City Hall. Mayor Rahm Emanuel defended his appointment, saying Deb Mell was chosen for her record not her last name. The 45-year-old says she plans to prove her critics wrong by working harder.

While her appointment is history making, others see it as another case of nepotism at City Hall. Alderman Ed Burke, who replaced his father, reminded the council that there is nothing wrong with a generational repeat.

"Over the years, four Cullertons, two Ogdens, two Knickerbockers," said 14th Ward Ald. Edward Burke.

And the list goes on, which proved to be too much for Alderman Bob Fioretti. He was the only one who voted against Deb Mell's appointment.

"I voted against the process, it is not a monarchy, it is a democracy," said Ald. Fioretti.

"That kind of criticism, no matter what I say, it not going to change their minds, it's my actions and I think I've proved that as state rep," said Ald. Deb Mell.

And Mayor Emanuel says it's Mell's record as a state rep and her character that sold him-- not her last name.

"Nobody is guaranteed a position because of a name, but nobody is excluded from applying from it," said Mayor Emanuel.

Dick Mell says he knows his time at City Hall has long passed and while the torch has been passed to his daughter, Deb Mell reminded her colleagues she is not her father.

"I think my father speaks longer than I do, so council meetings will be shorter," said Ald. Deb Mell.

The mayor also said that Deb Mell, who is the sister of Patty Blagojevich, will break a glass ceiling by being the first open lesbian on council and her wife, Christin Baker, was by her side.

"Deb brings a strong legislative and voting record and a unique level of experience to the role, which separated her from other candidates for the position, and will allow her to immediately able make a strong impact on behalf of the residents of the 33rd Ward. She is a proven legislator and will be a great addition to the city council," Emanuel was quoted in a news release.

Dick Mell, 75, is retiring after 38 years. Wednesday is his last day as he passes the torch onto his daughter.

"Right off the bat, I'm going to continue the great constituent services that my dad does," Deb Mell said. "More outreach, more social outreach, use of social media, expanded work office hours, just more energy, more independence."

"I'm just going to tell her to be who she is," Dick Mell said. "She likes the one-on-one contact with people, so I think she'll do well, but time will tell. This is her ballgame now."

Deb Mell officially resigned from her post as State Representative Wednesday and said she is looking forward to a much shorter commute.

Next week is her 45th birthday, so she will definitely be celebrating.

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