Some experts believe we’ll see 20 new aldermen in City Hall next year. Much of the turnover will be due to retirements -- Patrick Levar, Helen Shiller, Vi Daley and Mary Ann Smith are among those leaving -- but, as always, some aldermen will be thrown out on their ears. Here are the five aldermen most likely to lose their re-election bids.
Berny Stone, 50th Ward: The 83-year-old Stone, who has been representing the Far North Side since the Potawatamis lived there, says he still full of “pee and vinegar.” But Stone’s freshness date has expired. He barely won in 2007 against an opponent who has since moved to Florida to open a barbecue restaurant. The next year, state Sen. Ira Silverstein ran against Stone for ward committeemen, with Mayor Daley’s support, and won nearly 75 percent of the vote. Now, Silverstein is ready to complete the coup, running his wife Debra for alderman. There aren’t enough old widows left in Winston Towers to keep Stone’s career alive for one more term.
Sharon Denise Dixon, 24th Ward: The West Side alderman came into office in 2007 by defeating incumbent Michael Chandler. An independent, Dixon won without the support of a ward organization or political machine. Since then, Dixon has been arrested for driving under the influence, and made a failed challenge to Rep. Danny Davis, winning only 13 percent of the vote. These weaknesses seems to have been noted around Lawndale. Dixon has 24 challengers this year -- including ex-Ald. Chandler. She brought her petitions to City Hall late Monday afternoon in an attempt to place herself last on the ballot, so “I wouldn't get so jumbled up in there with so many names and confuse the constituents.”
John Rice, 36th Ward: Rice was the driver for former Ald. William J.P. Banks, which was enough of a qualification to get him appointed to the seat when Banks retired last year. Now, Rice has seven opponents -- but only $21,000 in his campaign fund. Northwest Side political expert Russ Stewart predicts Rice will be forced into a run-off against firefighter Nick Sposato or city water employee Bruce Randazzo.
Ariel Reboyras, 30th Ward: As the Northwest Side turned Latino, Reboyras was handpicked to run for alderman by Mayor Daley, who eased out Ald. Michael Wojcik with the promise of a job at the CTA. As a result, Reboyras had the support of the Hispanic Democratic Organization. But now Daley and HDO are no more, and Reboyras has a powerful challenger -- State Sen. Willie Delgado, who got his start in politics as a protégé of independents Luis Gutierrez and Miguel del Valle.
Willie Cochran, 20th Ward: The freshman alderman makes this list because he has the only celebrity challenger in town: Che “Rhymefest” Smith, the rapper who won a Grammy for co-writing “Jesus Walks” with Kanye West. Rhymefest says the ward suffers from “an absence of transparency and an absence of leadership.” Cochran calls Rhymefest “a known Hip Hop artist who degrades women and promotes violence in his videos.” This is the only aldermanic race getting national attention, and it’s not because of Cochran.