Candidate for Chicago City Council

About the Candidate

Name: Deborah Mell
DOB: July 30, 1968
Family: Georg Coleman (partner) and her two children
Occupation: Alderman, 33rd Ward
Political Experience: State Representative – 40th District

Candidate Statement

Hi, I’m Deb Mell and I’ve had the privilege of serving as the 33rd Ward Alderman for the past 5 1/2 years. I’ve lived in our ward — which includes Avondale, Irving Park, and Albany Park — for most of my life. It’s where I grew up and I am dedicated to keeping our neighborhoods affordable and safe places to live, work, and raise a family. With your help, we’ve made a lot of progress in the last few years.

We’ve focused on improving our neighborhoods schools, increasing investments and watching enrollments and test scores rise.

We’ve upgraded our beautiful parks, with a new riverfront trail, a hockey rink, tennis courts, a new dog park and the upcoming RiverRun bike path.

We’ve worked closely with C-P-D and community leaders to crack down on gangs and guns and ensuring our ward gets its fair share of police resources. This has to be a top priority for anyone seeking to serve this ward.

And we’re working to keep our neighborhoods diverse and affordable, to preserve the unique qualities that attracted us here. To that end, I’ve worked to expand affordable housing and I stood up to city hall, voting against an historic property tax increase that would have made it harder for people to stay in their homes.

At a city-wide level, I’ve worked to make Chicago a better and more fair place for workers and families, leading the fight to raise the minimum wage and require paid sick leave, while passing long-needed reforms to increase transparency in city hall.

But we’re not finished yet. If I’m able to serve another term in city council, I’ll continue this work — improving our schools and voting to finally have an elected school board in Chicago, expanding affordable housing, holding the line on property taxes, and attracting new businesses to the ward that make it one of the best places to live and work in Chicago.

Thank you, I hope to see you out there, and I’d love to have your vote.

Candidate Q&A

What is your vision for this office?

In 2015, Deb decided she wanted to help shape a new direction for Chicago and redirect her advocacy on other issues that directly impacted the day to day lives of residents in her community.

As alderman, Deb is recognized as a public official who puts the needs of the 33rd Ward and her constituents above all else. She oversees an accessible and service‐oriented ward office that listens and works tirelessly to effectively deliver a wide range of critical services to its residents.

By forging partnerships with local residents and businesses, she employs a collaborative, community centered approach to addressing longstanding issues in our neighborhoods. From securing investments in public parks and schools, to rebuilding our aging infrastructure and instituting programs to protect our environment, Deb has a reputation for helping get things done.

During her first term in office, Deb has also established a reputation as a fighter for working class Chicagoans by helping advance a legislative agenda that is focused on creating impactful housing policy, protecting and expanding worker protections for regular Chicagoans, and meaningful reforms to the way the Chicago City Council does its business.

For her second term, she wants to continue advancing an agenda that lifts up all Chicagoans.

What is the most pressing issue facing constituents, and how can you help address it?

Community Safety‐ I will continue to embrace a holistic, all‐of‐the‐above approach to keeping our neighborhoods safe. That includes:

  • Reform the Chicago Police Department and making sure first responders are properly trained, diverse, and fully accountable to the people they serve and protect
  • Maintain a zero‐tolerance policy on gang violence that destroys families and tears at the fabric of our neighborhoods
  • Making sure the 33rd Ward has its fair share of police resources and increasing the number of detectives in their ranks so that families get the justice they deserve
  • Ensuring the safety of every resident regardless of their race, ethnicity, gender identification, residency status and/or socio‐economic status
  • Empowering residents to help address the root causes of crime by working closely with community nonprofits and other local service agencies on expanding access to critical resources in the community and building neighborhoods rooted in a strong foundation of systemic empathy. I will also work to establish a 33rd Ward Community Justice Center that can facilitate restorative justice practices and other forms of conflict resolution.

As alderman, I am fortunate to represent a collection of neighborhoods that are among the safest in Chicago, but we still have significant challenges that need to be addressed. I want to continue working with our local first responders on building the trust that is needed in order to get police and residents working together in a meaningful way. Of course, public safety can’t rely solely on the efforts of law enforcement. That includes holding negligent landlords and problem business accountable for fostering an environment where dangerous criminal activity is allowed to exist without concern for the safety and security of our residents.

An Affordable Chicago and Balanced Economic Development

I want to continue building on an inclusive, community driven housing agenda that preserves and expands our inventory of safe and affordable housing in the 33rd Ward so that every resident can afford to live in Chicago without fear of being priced out of their neighborhood.

I will use every resource available to my office to responsibly expand our housing stock using Transit Oriented Development, coach houses/ADUs, and the development of new mixed‐use projects along our commercial corridors. I want to compliment these efforts with new tenant protections and impactful reforms to the City’s ARO program.

I strongly believe that vibrant commercial corridors and small, locally owned businesses help make our neighborhoods great communities. When residents are walking around supporting our economy, we all experience the benefits. During my first term in office, the 33rd Ward’s business districts are flourishing like never before. Every month, a new locally owned business is filling a once vacant storefront. With your support, I will continue to create more walkable neighborhoods, grow our local economy in a balanced way, and broaden our tax base as a city.


The 33rd Ward’s neighborhood schools have grown by leaps and bounds during my first term in office, which is a significant accomplishment given the fact that they have been able to thrive despite the revolving door of leaders both at CPS and the BOE. For too long, our priorities as a public‐school system have been too far removed from the needs of parents and educators. I want to help build a public‐school system that equitably distributes its resources and get the politics out of decision making.

I will focus on establishing greater community control over decision making by working towards a democratically elected school board; identifying progressive forms of revenue to help ensure our classrooms have the resources and support they need; appropriating capital investments where they are needed to most so to ensure the physical safety and vibrancy of our schools; and ending costly privatization schemes that are a giveaway to corporations, without any mechanism for accountability.