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Hispanic Caucus won’t pressure Rahm to appoint Hispanic replacement for retiring Ald. Richard Mell (33rd)
Barring a last-minute change-of-heart, the chairman of the City Council’s Hispanic Caucus said Thursday’s he’s decided not to send a letter to Mayor Rahm Emanuel urging the mayor to appoint a Hispanic replacement for retiring Ald. Richard Mell (33rd).
Ald. Danny Solis (25th) said the eight Hispanic aldermen who comprise the caucus’ executive committee are evenly divided on the issue of pressuring the mayor, given their respect for Dick Mell and their admiration for his daughter, State Rep. Deb Mell (D-Chicago), who remains the odds-on favorite to fill her father’s City Council seat.
“I’m one of the four who doesn’t think it’s a good idea, considering who Dick Mell is, the qualifications of Deb Mell, the fact the 33rd ward is 51 percent Hispanic and the fact we’ll be getting a Hispanic state representative to replace Deb Mell” if the mayor chooses her to replace her retiring father, Solis said.
Solis said the executive committee met with Richard Mell earlier this week to discuss the pressure tactic and the retiring alderman urged his colleagues not to weigh in.
Dick Mell is a member of the newly-expanded Hispanic Caucus that includes white aldermen with majority Hispanic wards.
The retiring alderman remains a Democratic ward committeeman with the largest weighted vote in his daughter’s legislative district. According to Solis, Dick Mell promised to back an Hispanic to replace his daughter in the Il. House.
After announcing his retirement last week, Richard Mell talked about installing his Hispanic aldermanic aide Jaime Andrade to replace Deb Mell in the Il. House. But, Solis said the retiring alderman mentioned no specific candidates during his meeting with the Hispanic Caucus.
Solis’ apparent decision to stay out of the controversy comes hours before the 5 p.m. Thursday deadline for interested candidates to submit applications to become the new 33rd Ward alderman.
Emanuel is duplicating, what he calls the “fair and open” process that he used to replace now-convicted Ald. Sandi Jackson (7th). But, City Hall sources have made it clear that Deb Mell is the prohibitive favorite.
Earlier this week, Emanuel appeared to set the stage for the latest chapter of Chicago’s notorious, “All in the Family” politics when he pointed to the series of firsts that would occur if he chose Deb Mell, a longtime favorite of the mayor.
“State Rep. Deb Mell is not guaranteed the job because her last name is Deb Mell. And State Rep. Deb Mell is not excluded from the job because her last name is Mell,” the mayor said.
“State Rep. Deb Mell is not guaranteed a job in City Council because she would be the first [openly] lesbian [alderman] or because she had breast cancer. But, she’s not excluded because she would be the first lesbian and the first woman, as [far as] I know, that has breast cancer. I remind all of you [that] she was endorsed by both papers when she ran for state rep.”
On the day he made his first aldermanic appointment, the mayor hailed the appointment of Natashia Holmes in a ward long controlled by the Jackson and Beavers clans as a “clean break from the past” and an attempt to take the politics out of City Hall picking for a community.
He reiterated that commitment this week—even though all signs point to Deb Mell.
“I’ll have a standard, as I did in the 7th Ward, which is, will the person bring a level of reform and commitment to public service in representing the entire ward,” the mayor said.
“It’s a process that worked effectively in the 7th Ward. I said then when we did it this will serve the test of time and it will work here. Nobody is guaranteed a job because of their last name. Nobody’s excluded. They have to meet a standard of public service, commitment to constituents, representing the ward and bringing the type of reform and change that is necessary, which will help the City Council be a partner in making sure we see the type of changes necessary to protect our taxpayers.”