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Lawmaker Deb Mell Frontrunner To Succeed Her Father As Alderman

State Rep. Deb Mell (Source: Facebook)

State Rep. Deb Mell (Source: Facebook)

Jay Levine Jay Levine
Jay Levine is the chief correspondent for CBS 2 Chicago. He joined...
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(CBS) – Twelve individuals are on the list as potential replacements for 33rd Ward Ald. Richard Mell, who retires later this month.

One of them will be appointed by Mayor Emanuel after a committee screens the candidates. So far, the unsurprising front-runner is Mell’s daughter, state Rep. Deborah Mell of Chicago.

“A lot of the voters there have already voted for me three times to send me to Springfield, and I think I’ve proven myself,” the lawmaker tells CBS 2 Chief Correspondent Jay Levine.

Having a famous father doesn’t hurt.

“It’s important the mayor make the case for why Deb Mell is the most qualified person to take her father’s seat,” says Emily Miller of the Better Government Association.

The mayor hasn’t been available to reporters since he responded to criticism about Mell seeking her father’s job.

“Nobody is guaranteed a job because of their last name, nobody is excluded,” he said then. “I remind all of you, she was endorsed by both papers when she ran for state rep.”

The 33rd is northwest side ward with irregular boundaries roughly stretching from Belmont to Lawrence and California to Central. Only three of the 12 applicants have Hispanic surnames despite the 2010 census, which shows the ward 48 percent Hispanic, 37 percent white and 10 percent Asian.

Within a two-mile radius of its geographical center are 121 nationalities, speaking 42 languages.

There are business districts and quiet residential areas, and the ward is home to the nation’s largest manufacturer of gaming equipment and the first manufacturer of popcorn machines. Among the notable residents are the current Illinois Senate President and ousted Gov. Rod Blagojevich, Deb Mell’s brother-in-law, who is currently serving a federal prison sentence.

Ald. Ed Burke is lining up to support a candidate whose resume, he says, is more important than her name.

“She’s been in the legislature and over the years so many years members of the legislature have come to city council,” he says.

The outcome appears all but certain.

“It’s a good thing she’s good because this is what we’re going to get,” says Miller, who is not endorsing anyone.

Here is the entire list of 12 candidates, provided by Mayor Emanuel’s press office:

Robert F. Elrick
Elizabeth Lynn Gomez
Gretchen Carol Helmreich
Jonathan Andrew Markel
Deborah Lynn Mell
Maellen Elizabeth Pittman-Fernandez
Grace Troccolo Rink
Edmund Joseph Sieracki
Matthew Boyd Terry
Andrew Amador Tinajero
Annisa Michele Wanat
Sergiusz Piotr Zgrzebski