Ald. Deb Mell ( D-33rd Ward ) is among those fighting for their political lives in the April 2 runoff elections in Chicago.
Talking with Windy City Times, she discussed the upcoming election as well as transparency, her ward and mayoral endorsements.
Windy City Times: Are you surprised that you're in a runoff?
Deb Mell: No, I'm not surprised. People are really frustrated with City Hall, and with what's been going on there.
WCT: In our last interview, you said you believe in transparency in your office and that you listen to your constituents. But with almost 60 percent voting for the other two candidates [in the first round of elections,] do you feel like you're listening to them?
DM: There's just this wave of people right now of people who are frustrated or angry, and they just want to vote out anyone who's in right now. I'm absolutely proud of the dialogue and I do try to work with othersjust like I did in Springfield. I can work with [everyone]. With [Ald.] Ed Burke and Danny Solis, some people just want change.
My polling says that the majority of the ward feels that I'm an excellent alderman. It's just that people want the establishment out. And some people connect me with machine politics because they can't attack my record.
I am my own personI run my own election and office. My father [former Ald. Dick Mell] and I have different views, to say the least. I'm one of the few alderman who hasn't received money from Ed Burke; I don't have a relationship with him.
WCT: What do you feel is the biggest accomplishment you made in your last term?
DM: Wowso many. We secured $29 million in funding for our school and money for our park. Horner Park is doing amazingly well; we have a dog park there as well as a soccer field ( or pitch ), tennis courts and a beautiful riverfront. There's also a new indoor ice-skating rink as well as a playground.
On the reform side, I was really proud to sponsor legislation that would let the inspector general have oversight over all the aldermen.
Most importantly, it's how we're helping the ward that I'm proud of the most. When a developer comes into my office, and wants to take a vacant lot and put a building on it, we go to the community and talk about it. We talk about [everything], including affordable housing. There's a balance that you need: You build your parks and your schools, and people come here because they're being priced out of Logan Square.
WCT: And how do you feel about possibly reducing the number of people on the City Council?
DM: I'm torn about it. Right now, an alderman is accessible; I have an open-door policy to anyone who wants to spend a day in my office to talk about potholes, business developments. I would hate the reduce the availability of aldermen in the city. But I'm open to any sort of conversation.
Also, if you had less aldermen, you would need a restructuringand neighbors would have less say in what happened.
WCT: What do you think is the biggest problem for the LGBT community right now?
DM: I'll say violence against our trans brothers and sisters. I think it's discrimination and violence.
WCT: The last time you talked with Windy City Times, you said you hadn't decided who to endorse for mayor. Has that changed?
DM: I will let you know. [Note: Mell submitted a press release March 25 stating that she has endorsed Lori Lightfoot for mayor. In part, the release read, "Chicago is one of America's most vibrant and diverse cities, and it deserves a Mayor who will represent all of those who live here. Lori Lightfoot will be an exceptional advocate for the people of this great city, and she is the clear choice to guide us these next four years."
Visit www.debfor33.com/ .