Aldermanic candidates for Chicago’s 50th Ward held their first public forum of this election season at a luncheon organized by the West Ridge Chamber of Commerce and WBEZ. All six registered candidates were on hand at the Croatian Cultural Center in Chicago's West Ridge neighborhood to answer questions about how they would help the ward’s business community. The election will be February 22, 2011.
The registered candidates are as follows. None had a challenge filed against their candidacy up to the date of the forum.
- Greg Brewer, architect. Brewer ran for 50th Ward alderman in 2007.
- Ahmed Khan, community activist.
- Tom Morris, City of Chicago hoisting engineer. Morris ran for 50th Ward alderman in 2003. He also ran for both 50th Ward committeeman and 16th District State Representative in 2004.
- Michael Moses, attorney. Moses ran for 50th Ward alderman in 1995. He also ran for 16th District state representative in 2004.
- Debra Silverstein, Certified Public Accountant.
- Bernard Stone, 50th Ward Alderman
Candidates introduce themselves starting around 2:15 in the audio.
Here’s what the moderator Odette Yousef (WBEZ), the West Ridge Chamber of Commerce and audience members asked the candidates:
- What would you do about empty storefronts in the 50th Ward’s retail corridors, and what do you think of proposed redevelopment plans for Western Ave.? (Answers start with Michael Moses around 09:00)
- What would you do to combat the perceived increase in gang activity, graffiti, and panhandling in the ward’s business corridors? (Answers start with Bernard Stone around 19:56)
- What is your solution to the perceived parking problems in the ward’s business areas? (Answers start with Tom Morris around 27:30)
- What would you, as alderman, do to help an entrepreneur who has hit city roadblocks in an effort to open a business in the 50th Ward? (Answers start with Greg Brewer around 34:55)
- How would you, as alderman, help to find more financial support for the West Ridge Chamber of Commerce? (Answers start with Debra Silverstein around 42:07)
The candidates concluded with closing statements, beginning around 49:26.
Many expect this race to be close, perhaps closer than the last one in 2007. In that race, incumbent Bernard Stone was forced into a run-off with grassroots candidate Naisy Dolar. This time, Stone is in a different position. He lost his seat as the 50th Ward’s Democratic Committeeman a few years ago to State Senator Ira Silverstein – husband to Debra Silverstein, who now challenges Stone. There are also more candidates in this race than last, which could force a runoff election in April of 2011.