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Rep. Mell sworn in to father's city council seat

(Ted Schurter)
FILE - In this May 31, 2013 file photo, state Rep. Deborah Mell, D-Chicago, speaks on a a gay marriage bill at the state Capitol in Springfield, Ill. On Wednesday, July 24, 2013, Chicago Mayor Rahm Emanuel announced he is appointing Mell to fill her father Dick Mell's long-held Chicago City Council seat. (AP Photo/The State Journal-Register, Ted Schurter, File)

CHICAGO (AP) — 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.

Mell was sworn in Wednesday to the 33rd Ward seat that her father, Dick Mell, held for nearly 40 years.

The powerful Democratic lawmaker pushed for his daughter's selection, despite criticism that her appointment could be seen as nepotism.

But Emanuel said the progressive state representative wasn't assured the spot. Twelve people were considered for the post in what the mayor said was a "thorough" selection process.

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

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 Wednesday 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."

Mell's appointment created a sticky situation for Emanuel, who has been touting his efforts to change the way business has always been done at City Hall. He's been pushing to hire employees based on merit, not by who's related to whom and who's owed a favor.

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.


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