Alderman Mell concedes race in 33rd Ward

CHICAGO (WLS) -- Another political dynasty in Chicago is coming to an end. Alderman Deb Mell has conceded in her reelection bid in the 33rd Ward, paving the way for Rossana Rodriguez Sanchez to take over. She beat Mell by just 13 votes.

The 33rd Ward has been in the Mell family for more than 40 years, first held by Deb's father Dick Mell. And while the family name may have been a blessing in the past, in this election cycle it may have been a curse.

In three weeks, Deb Mell's tenure as 33rd Ward Alderman will come to a close.

"I knew it was going to be very close with the indictment of Alderman Burke right before the election kicked off, with the Mell name, and people wanted change," said Deb Mell, Alderman 33rd Ward.

Mell was appointed to the position in 2013, replacing her father who stepped down after 38 years in the office representing the city's North Side.

The council vote approving her appointment still hangs on her office wall.

Friday, after reviewing ballots at the Board of Elections, Mell concluded she could not overcome the 13 vote deficit that remained.

"You know when you lose by that margin you think, 'Oh, should I have knocked on doors a little bit more that night?' You question everything, you just can't go there. And that's why I say that everything happens for a reason," Mell said.

She officially conceded the race over the weekend.

"Well, we had a really big task ahead of us, we were trying to unseat a family dynasty. So we did an incredible job and I am very, very proud of that," said Rossana Rodriguez Sanchez, Alderman-elect 33rd Ward.

Rodriguez Sanchez, a former drama teacher and community organizer, filed paperwork with the City Clerk's office Monday so she can hire staff. She said they are all excited to get started.

"There's going to be a learning curve and we're going to have to to learn fast, but we are ready," Rodriguez Sanchez said. "Now we need to build, right? We need to make sure that we are addressing the needs of everybody so we can convince the people who did not vote for us that we are up to the task and that we're going to serve well."

Mell has posted a thank you note in her front window and reflected on the best part of being an alderman.

"Bar none is all the relationships we've made in our community," Mell said. "I think the hardest thing is not getting results as quickly as you want them to happen."

Mell said she plans to take some time off and reflect before deciding what's next. She has not ruled out another run for office. Mell, who is the sister-in-law of convicted former governor Rod Blagojevich, said she still remains hopeful that he might get a pardon from President Trump.

"I do know that he said he was considering it around last Father's Day, and nothing happened," she said. "I'd like to see him home with his family and my nieces have their dad back."

She said she has offered to provide whatever assistance she can to Rodriguez Sanchez to help with a smooth transition.
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