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Stone’s support slips, faces runoff again

Alderman Bernard L. Stone greets supporters Pure Cafe 6251 N. McCormick Blvd. while waiting for returns his race for alderman

Alderman Bernard L. Stone greets supporters at the Pure Cafe, 6251 N. McCormick Blvd. while waiting for returns in his race for alderman in the 50th Ward in Chicago, IL on Tuesday February 22, 2011 | Matt Marton~Sun-Times Media

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Updated: March 22, 2011 5:56PM

The City Council’s elder statesman will face another runoff to keep the seat he’s occupied for nearly 40 years.

With 98 percent of precincts reporting, Ald. Bernard Stone (50th) had 37.2 percent of the vote, while newcomer Debra Silverstein had 33.8 percent. Another Stone critic, Greg Brewer, had 18.8 percent.

“I’ve got a good vibe about this,” said Stone, 83, Tuesday night. “I’m leading. There’s no question — I’m in the runoff.”

But Silverstein, wife of state senator Ira Silverstein, also predicted victory in the next election.

“I believe the 50th Ward is ready for change,” Silverstein, a 45-year-old CPA, said Tuesday night. “And here we are, neck and neck, but we’re ready for another round and I believe I will be victorious.”

She said that with just two candidates — down from five — it will be easier to get her message out, but both candidates were predicting supporters of the other three candidates would help them win the April runoff.

Stone, at his campaign office in a strip mall at Lincoln and Devon, said he’s ready for another six weeks on the campaign trail.

Stone’s support in his attempt for an 11th term, however, dropped significantly even from the 2007 election when he got 48 percent of the vote. In the runoff, he eked out a 705-vote victory against challenger Naisy Dolar with help from Mayor Daley’s political army.

Daley then backed state Sen. Silverstein over Stone in the race for 50th Ward committeeman, insisting it was part of a deal designed to help Stone in the aldermanic race. Stone called it a “betrayal.”

Stone couldn’t resist taking another shot at Sen. Silverstein on Tuesday.

“The committeeman made a fool of himself by running his wife,” Stone said.

Reached by phone, Sen. Silverstein shot back: “I never argue with a fool.”

The subtext throughout the campaign season, Stone said, was that he’s too old for the job. But he’s maintained that that’s nonsense, and declared last fall that he’s too “full of pee and vinegar” to retire.

Throughout the campaign, photos were circulated of Stone sitting in City Council or committee meetings with his eyes shut — evidence, some say, that he was sleeping through important hearings. Stone said he was just resting his eyes.

Tuesday night Stone ripped his opponent and criticized those calling for change in the ward.

“She has absolutely no experience, she has absolutely no attributes to make her a good alderman,” he said later in the evening. “Change doesn’t always bring what they hope for. Sometimes experience is much better than change.”

He concluded by saying, “I’m going home. I’m tired as hell.”

Silverstein said Stone’s remarks were more of the same negative campaigning leading up to Tuesday. “We’ve run a positive campaign, and the alderman didn’t do that,” she said.

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