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Diana Novak/MEDILL

Restaurant owner Mir Naghavi says Ald. Mell helped him get his restaurant open.

Unchallenged Alderman Mell (33rd) finds support in constituents’ long-term memories

by Diana Novak
Jan 11, 2011

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 Incumbent Ald. Richard Mell (33rd) has no opponent in the Feb. 22 municipal election, and although some area business owners say he hasn’t been very active in recent years, they don’t seem to mind his reelection.

Mell, 73, is finishing his 36th year as alderman, and ran unopposed in the 2007 election as well. He is most recently known for his public feud with his daughter, Patti Blagojevich, and her husband, ex-Gov. Rod Blagojevich.

His ward encompasses parts of Avondale, Irving Park and Avondale, a diverse set of communities with many Middle-Eastern, Polish and Latino residents.

Mir Naghavi, owner of Noon-O-Kabab restaurant and a ward resident, said he had contact with the alderman’s office just after opening seven years ago.

“They helped me a lot to get things together through the Chamber of Commerce Albany Park,” Naghavi said. “But lately I am not too involved with him at all.”

Naghavi pointed to some new condo development across the street from his restaurant as evidence of Mell’s push to improve the neighborhood.

“It was going good, but it stopped because apparently people stopped buying condos,” Naghavi said.

Alla Blan, owner of Salam Restaurant and also a ward resident, said that Mell’s office contacted the city for him when their operating license was delayed 20 years ago.

Though he hasn’t spoken to him since, Blan saw evidence of Mell’s work all over.

“It’s a lot better now, but still we do see some gangsters’ activity and some homeless people here and there,” he said.

Despite what feels like stagnation in their neighborhood’s progress, both Naghavi and Blan see no reason for challengers to run. “We like what we see, we don’t want things changed in a scary way,” Naghavi said.

“If he is doing a good job,” Blan said, “what’s the problem with that?”