Deb Mell sworn in as 33rd Ward alderman, replaces father - FOX 32 News Chicago

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

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Dick Mell. Dick Mell.
CHICAGO (Associated Press) -

State Rep. Deborah Mell was sworn in as a Chicago city council member Wednesday, hours after the mayor named her as a replacement for her father and resolved a politically awkward predicament for Mayor Rahm Emanuel.

In a largely-expected move, Mell was sworn in Wednesday to the 33rd Ward seat that her father, Dick Mell, held for nearly 40 years.

The powerful Democratic lawmaker, who has spoken glowingly of the good old days of Chicago patronage politics, pushed for his daughter's selection despite criticism that her appointment could be seen as nepotism.

But Emanuel -- who has been pushing since taking office to hire employees based on merit, not by who's related to whom and who's owed a favor -- said the progressive state representative wasn't assured the spot.

Twelve people were considered for the post by a committee that also offered input during what the mayor said was a "thorough" selection process. Emanuel made the final selection.

"She is a proven legislator and will be a great addition to the City Council," Emanuel said in a statement announcing the appointment Wednesday.

Before she was sworn in, one alderman criticized the appointment by Mayor Rahm Emanuel.

"I like what she stands for, but we are not a monarchy, we are a democracy -- let's start acting like it," said Alderman Bob Fioretti.

Deborah Mell acknowledged her critics, but said that she's excited to get to work.

"That just makes me work even harder," she said. "And I have something to prove and you will not question my passion and my hard work."

Before she was chosen, Emanuel said Mell was never guaranteed the job because of her name, but that she wouldn't be excluded because of it either.

Mell joined the legislature in 2009. She's the first open lesbian on the council and the sister-in-law of ex-Gov. Rod Blagojevich, who's in jail for corruption.

Democratic leaders in Mell's legislative district will choose a replacement to fill her seat until the next election. Mell has said she would like another lesbian to replace her and that she hopes whoever gets the job will support legislation to legalize same-sex marriage in Illinois.

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