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Deb Mell pursuing father's aldermanic seat
by Kate Sosin, Windy City Times

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The Illinois General Assembly may lose an out lesbian representative this month, but the City of Chicago could be adding a third out alderman to its ranks.

Deb Mell, the 40th Dist. state rep. whose impassioned speech on same-sex marriage stunned Springfield in May, wants her father's 33rd Ward aldermanic seat, she confirmed to Windy City Times.

"Just personally and professionally, I think the alderman has a more direct impact and can see results, and it's more hands on," said Mell. "In that respect, I feel it's a better fit for me."

Mell would be the first out lesbian alderman in the city. Chicago already has two gay aldermen—Tom Tunney and James Cappleman.

Mell's father, Ald. Richard Mell, has already put his weight behind his daughter. The alderman told reporters at a July 5 press conference that he thought the young Mell would pursue his seat and that he hoped she would be considered. Richard Mell's last day is set for July 24.

Mayor Rahm Emanuel will make the final call on who fills the vacancy. Deb Mell said she has not had a conversation with the mayor about the job, but said she officially threw her name into the running July 10.

Mell said that if chosen, she would be sorry to miss a vote on equal marriage rights. Mell pushed hard for the passage of the same-sex marriage bill, which fell shy of the votes needed for passage in May.

Mell gave an impassioned speech to a shell-shocked House chamber May 31 after Rep. Greg Harris declined to call for a vote on the measure due to lack of support.

She told WCT that after the Supreme Court effectively struck down the Defense of Marriage Act in June, she sent a letter to colleagues laying out the rights that will be denied to Illinois same-sex couples.

But she started thinking about replacing her father this year, she said.

Mell said that if appointed, the big difference between two generations will be use of technology. The younger Mell will use Twitter, Facebook and other social media to connect with constituents. The older Mell has yet to get voicemail.

Mayor Emanuel told CBS news, however, that no decision has been made yet.

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