State Rep. Deb Mell said Thursday she officially entered the running to succeed her father, Richard Mell, as alderman, making her a favorite to continue 37 years of Mell family representation in the 33rd Ward.
Mell, who filed her online application with Mayor Rahm Emanuel's office late Wednesday, pointed out that her state district includes a lot of the Northwest Side ward and said she knows the residents and issues.
"I think that would give me the edge," she said.
When he announced his retirement last week, Richard Mell spoke highly of his daughter's qualifications but said a decision on running would be up to her and the mayor. Emanuel, who has been consistently complimentary of Deb Mell in recent months, this week rejected the notion that she shouldn't get the job because of the specter of nepotism.
State Sen. Iris Martinez, D-Chicago, a potentially strong applicant in a ward where nearly half the voting-age residents are Hispanic, said she decided not to apply after publicly considering the idea.
Martinez, a Democratic majority whip, said she didn't want to give up her leadership position in Springfield. She also said she wants to consider instead running for lieutenant governor or some other statewide office.
Martinez said she wasn't offered support for a future candidacy in exchange for not challenging Deb Mell for alderman. "No, no, I wouldn't do that. I'm very independent," Martinez said.
Martinez said she hopes the mayor gives strong consideration to any Latino candidates but didn't know whether any applied.
The mayor's office received 14 applications by Thursday's 5 p.m. deadline but declined to release the names. Emanuel spokesman Tom Alexander said the office first wants to remove applicants who don't qualify because they don't live in the ward or for other reasons.
A five-person panel appointed by Emanuel will examine the applications and interview candidates by phone or in person, "if necessary," according to the mayor's office. The panel will then submit "a small group" of finalists from whom the mayor will pick the new alderman.
Ald. Michelle Harris, 8th, and Felicia Davis, executive director of the Mayor's Office of Public Engagement, will be on the panel. They will be joined by Roosevelt High School principal Ricardo Trujillo, 33rd Ward community activist Iliamar Isaac, and John Friedmann, vice president of the North River Commission, according to a news release from the mayor's office.
Richard Mell, 75, plans to stay on in the politically powerful post of Democratic committeeman for the ward.
Mell's resignation takes effect July 24, and Emanuel has said he expects to swear in the new alderman at the City Council meeting that day. The replacement will serve out the remainder of the term, which ends in 2015.
Tribune reporter Richard Wronski contributed.Copyright © 2015, CT Now