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Silverstein’s Victory Ends Stone’s Long Run

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Bernard Stone, Debra Silverstein

Incumbent Bernard Stone and challenger Debra Silverstein are fighting for the 50th Ward. (Credit: CBS)

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UPDATED 04/06/11 11:33 a.m.

CHICAGO (CBS) – After nearly 40 years and plenty of controversies, Bernard Stone is out as alderman of the West Rogers Park neighborhood’s 50th Ward.

Stone, who only trails Finance Committee Chairman Edward Burke (14th) in his seniority in the City Council, was crushed by opponent Debra Silverstein, a certified public accountant and the wife of state Sen. Ira Silverstein (D-Chicago.)

With 100 percent of precincts reporting, Silverstein defeated Stone 62 percent to 38 percent. Silverstein won with the backing of her husband and Mayor-elect Rahm Emanuel.

On Wednesday morning, Stone said he had no hard feelings toward Silverstein. But he suggested that he felt betrayed by the new alderman-elect’s state senator husband.

Ira Silverstein ousted Stone as Democratic ward committeeman in 2008, with the support of Mayor Richard M. Daley.

LISTEN: Newsradio 780 Political Editor Craig Dellimore reports

“The committeeman was the guy I started in business; the one I took up to Mayor Daley and introduced to Mayor Daley, and then he went after me as committeeman,” Stone said. “Now he sends his wife after me as alderman.”

Stone says he won’t lift a finger to help either Ira or Debra Silverstein in this transition.

On Tuesday night, Silverstein was reportedly the first victorious aldermanic candidate whom Emanuel called to congratulate Tuesday night.

As Silverstein celebrated at the Great Chicago Food and Beverage Company restaurant, 3149 W. Devon Ave., she said she would act on a mandate for change.

“I jumped into this race basically because of you, the people – because I heard your frustration and I heard your despair and I heard your need for change in the 50th Ward,” Silverstein said to her supporters Tuesday night.

Stone has accused Silverstein of being a puppet for Mayor-elect Emanuel, but Silverstein has said she will vote her own mind.

“I think (Stone) should wait and see what happens – because I think there’s going to be some good things coming around here for the 50th Ward,” she said.

With Stone’s defeat, a long and storied career in the City Council comes to an end.

After unsuccessful runs for the Illinois State House of Representatives in 1956 and alderman in 1963, Stone won a special election for the 50th Ward seat in 1973, after Ald. Jack Sperling was appointed to a Cook County Circuit Court judgeship.

When Harold Washington was elected as the city’s first African-American mayor in 1983, Stone joined the bloc of 29 aldermen who resisted and blocked the mayor’s legislative agenda and appointments, led by infamous Ald. Edward Vrdolyak (10th.)

During that period, Stone is remembered for calling then Ald. Luis Gutierrez (26th) a “little pipsqueak” during a heated City Council debate.

In 1987, Stone switched from the Democratic to the Republican Party and ran unsuccessfully for the Cook County Recorder of Deeds on a ticket with Vrdolyak for county Circuit Court Clerk. Stone lost to Carol Moseley Braun in the 1988 election.

Stone also sought the Republican slating for mayor in a 1989 special election, when Mayor Richard M. Daley first ran for the office successfully. But Vrdolyak ended up being the nominee. In 1990, Stone went back to being a Democrat.

Stone gained notoriety again in 1993, when he had a 2 1/2-foot metal wall built in the median strip of Howard Street between Kedzie and Francisco avenues. The wall kept cars and pedestrians from crossing Howard Street from Chicago into Evanston or vice versa.

At the time, a major shopping center with a Jewel, Target and Best Buy was under construction on the Evanston side of Howard Street, and Stone said he was concerned about extra traffic on the Chicago side, according to the Chicago Reporter. But Evanston city officials were furious, and after a court battle, “Bernie’s Wall” wall came down in 1994.

In 2003, Stone declined to back his son, hypnotherapist and political reformer Jay Stone, in a campaign for alderman in the 32nd Ward. The elder stone said his son was an “embarrassment” who “doesn’t know what he’s doing” and has “absolutely no understanding of politics,” the Chicago Reader reported. Jay Stone also announced a short-lived mayoral candidacy last year, but filed just 250 signatures when 12,500 were needed to qualify.

In 2007, Ald. Stone was forced into a runoff by community and political activist Naisy Dolar, but ultimately won.

He announced plans to run for an eleventh term as alderman in September, shortly after Mayor Richard M. Daley announced he would not seek a seventh term in office.

In announcing his run, Stone accused Mayor Daley of “abandoning ship” during a financial crisis by choosing not to run again, and that the new mayor would need veteran aldermen such as himself to “lean on and depend on for guidance.”

Stone said in September that he was not ready for retirement because he was still “full of pee and vinegar.”

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