North Side Aldermanic Highlights

February 23, 2011

Ald. Bernard Stone

50th Ward

After a tight race, incumbent Ald. Bernard Stone will face a runoff for his seat on the city’s far North Side. When Stone declared he would run again for an eleventh term, the 83-year-old said now was “­not the time for change.” 

In his last election Stone also found himself forced into a runoff. Later, he lost the Democratic Committeeman seat to State Senator Ira Silverstein. In this race, Silverstein’s wife, Debra, ran against Stone, as did a one-time Stone ally, Michael Moses. Both of those challengers hail from the area’s Orthodox Jewish community, a development which may have peeled off  votes from Stone’s traditional base.  Stone will face Silverstein in the runoff.

Stone set the tone for the runoff against Silverstein at his campaign gathering last night.  He said, "That'll be an interesting campaign because she's gotta talk about those slum landlords that have been furnishing the money for her first campaign."

Silverstein dismissed Stone's accusations and lobbed her own, "And with all of the dirty tricks that the alderman did through this race, we still came closer than anyone has come to beating him in decades."

Also running were Greg Brewer, an architect who unsuccessfully bid for Stone’s seat in the last election, and Ahmed Khan, a young community organizer of Indian-American descent.

47th Ward

In the 47th ward, 35-year incumbent Gene Schulter dropped his re-election bid in January to make a play for the Cook County Board of Review. That unsuccessful run set up the first wide-open race since the 1970s in this ward that includes Lincoln Square, North Center and Ravenswood. Schulter threw his support behind Tom O'Donnell, a longtime ally who is president of the Ravenswood Community Council. Schulter gave O'Donnell at least $15,000, helping set up a huge money advantage for O'Donnell. He raised more than $100,000 since jumping into the race just over a month ago.

His biggest competitor was 30-year-old Ameya Pawar, a program assistant at Northwestern University who bills himself as young, savvy and reform-minded. He collected endorsements from both major daily papers and managed to raise about $30,000 without the backing of an established political organization. Based on unofficial tallies, Pawar netted just shy of 51 percent of the vote, to O’Donnell’s 44. 

Ameya Pawar

At his de facto victory party last night in front of a North Center bowling alley, Pawar seemed as surprised as anybody, "I really didn’t prepare for this moment. We were just keeping knocking on doors, and (seeing) what happens. I mean this ward in many ways is a sleeping giant. I think they were just waiting to get more active."

Activist Matt Reichel and Northwestern University administrator Tim Jacks also ran for the seat.

46th Ward

This ward is largely contained within the Uptown neighborhood, which entered the election at a crossroads. For years it’s been under pressure to preserve a tradition of taking care of the economically and socially underserved. At the same time, young homeowners want to see new businesses that can serve them, and raise their property values.

Outgoing Ald. Helen Shiller had championed keeping affordable housing in the 46th Ward, and she won her final battle most recently with the creation of the Wilson Yards mixed-use development. The development brought in a Target and an Aldi grocery, but it also includes low-income and senior housing. Shiller’s decision not to run left the door open to eleven candidates. Candidates Molly Phelan and James Cappleman both recieved about 20% of vote and will face each other in the runoff election.

41st Ward

This ward includes far-Northwest Side neighborhoods like Edison Park, Norwood Park and Edgebrook -- largely white, middle-class areas home to many cops, teachers and city workers. There, the City Council's only Republican, Brian Doherty, gave up a re-election bid for an unsuccessful run for the state legislature. He threw his support behind his longtime administrative aide, Maurita Gavin (who, it so happens, took Alderman Doherty to prom back in the 1970s). She ran on a platform of continuity, promising even to keep largely the same staff.

She faced a huge field of 11 challengers, but it was Democratic committeeman Mary O’Connor who emerged as the top vote-getter, with 30 percent. Last night, she told assembled supporters she doesn’t plan to take a day off … and perhaps they shouldn’t either. She said, "We were in the office, getting the numbers, and Owen said, 'Should I start printing out the April 5th voluneter sheets now?' And I’m like, 'Get ‘em going! Get ‘em going! Lock the door!'"

She’ll face Maurita Gavin, who got 25 percent of the vote, in the runoff. Both candidates say they’ll fight to improve city services, and to keep local police from being redeployed to other, higher-crime wards.

Odette Yousef and Gabriel Spitzer contributed to this story.