Richard Mell

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Richard Mell
Member of the Chicago City Council from the 33rd ward
In office
1975 – July 24, 2013
Succeeded by Deb Mell
Personal details
Born (1938-05-05) May 5, 1938 (age 78)
Muskegon, Michigan, U.S.
Political party Democratic
Spouse(s) Marge Mell
Relations Rod Blagojevich (son-in-law)
Children Deb

Richard F. "Dick" Mell (born May 5, 1938) is an American politician. A Democrat, he served on the Chicago City Council from 1975 to 2013. He retired in 2013 and was succeeded by Deb Mell, his daughter.


Mell was born and raised in Muskegon, Michigan. After college, he settled in Chicago with his wife Marge and opened a spring manufacturing business. He also became active in local politics. In 1972, Mell was an unsuccessful candidate for 33rd Ward Democratic Committeeman, losing by about 500 votes. In 1975, he was elected Alderman of the 33rd Ward of the City of Chicago (map); in 1976 he was also elected ward committeeman. His ward comprises part of Chicago's Northwest Side.

He was also one of the authors of the 1982 Chicago handgun ban which was in effect until 2010, when it was struck down by the US Supreme Court in McDonald v Chicago.[citation needed]

During the Council Wars of the mid-1980s, Mell was allied with the Vrdolyak 29 who opposed then-Mayor Harold Washington. After the Vrdolyak 29 lost their majority in the city council in the 1986 court-ordered aldermanic elections, Mell offered to cooperate with Washington. Upon Washington's death in 1987, Mell famously stood on his desk in the City Council chambers, demanding to be recognized as the divided Council wrestled with the question of who would succeed Washington.

Dick and Marge Mell have three children: Patricia, Deborah, and Richard. His daughter Patricia is married to former Illinois Governor Rod Blagojevich. His daughter Deb was elected to the state house of representatives in 2008 and appointed to the Chicago City Council in 2013. Marge Mell died December 3, 2006, of Progressive supranuclear palsy, a rare and fatal disease.

Mell was a driving force behind Blagojoevich's successful gubernatorial campaign in 2002. However, in 2005, Blagojevich and Mell had a public feud when Blagojevich shut down a landfill owned by a distant cousin of Patricia Blagojevich for environmental problems. It was later revealed that Mell had served as an advisor to the cousin. Legislation was eventually passed giving the Illinois Environmental Protection Agency more authority over landfills and preventing relatives of top Illinois officials from owning landfills.

In June 2005, Mell and Valeria Richter served as honorary co-chairman of an event for State Representative Jack Franks, a longtime Blagojevich critic who had been rumored as a possible primary challenger to the governor.

In 2007, Mell failed to re-register his extensive firearms collection, as required by Chicago's gun control law, a law which he helped to write. Mell, along with Chicago Mayor Richard M. Daley, proposed a one-month amnesty, where the gun registry would be re-opened. Pistol registration was closed in 1982 and the window only allowed guns registered before then, so all new registration attempts were rejected. Mell had claimed that thousands of Chicagoans were in his situation and would benefit, but just 25 people successfully registered guns during the "amnesty."[1][2]

In December 2008, Mayor Richard M. Daley gave the city council just 3 days to consider the complicated and lengthy contract to privatize the city's parking meters for 75 years. While some alderman expressed dismay at having the proposal shoved down their throats,[3] Mell was dismissive of this criticism, saying,

How many of us read the stuff we do get, Ok? I try to. I try to. I try to. But being realistic, being realistic, it's like getting your insurance policy. It's small print, Ok?[4]

The city council ultimately approved the deal by a vote of 40 to 5.[4]

On July 3, 2013, Mell submitted his letter of resignation,[5] effective July 24, 2013. Mayor Rahm Emanuel appointed Mell's daughter Deb as Mell's successor as alderman from the 33rd ward.


  1. ^ Spielman, Fran (2008-05-21). "Daley backs Mell's gun plan". Author. Chicago Sun-Times. 
  2. ^ Dardick, Hal (2008-06-05). "Mell pushes gun registration amnesty". Author. Chicago Tribune. 
  3. ^ [1]
  4. ^ a b [2]
  5. ^ "Council tactician Mell bowing out after nearly 4 decades". Chicago Tribune. July 3, 2013. 

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