The fight for the 50th ward in 2011 became contentious. Testy debates, mudslinging and personal topics were all fair game during a bitter runoff between 38-year incumbent Berny Stone and challenger Debra Silverstein. In the end, Silverstein ousted Stone, one of the longest serving city council members, to claim the aldermanic seat. Silverstein is a former CPA and wife of state Sen. Ira Silverstein.
Background: Silverstein ran for alderman in an attempt to consolidate power in the ward. Ira Silverstein is the state senator in the district that encompasses his wife’s ward and Debra worked in the Democratic Party of the 50th Ward’s office while running for city council. During the election, she said people would call the office about potholes, streets that needed repaving, and rats and dirt in the alleys because they got no response from the Stone’s aldermanic office.
The Ward: A particularly diverse ward, the 50th encompasses West Rogers Park. On Devon Avenue between Kedzie and Ridge Avenues, one traveling eastward will encounter an Orthodox Jewish neighborhood, a Russian American neighborhood, an Indian American neighborhood, a Pakistani American neighborhood and a Bangladeshi American neighborhood.
The Office: Like most aldermen, Silverstein hopes to boost economic development and small business in her ward, particularly on the major throughways of Devon, Western and Touhy Avenues. In terms of city services and petty crime, Silverstein says the alderman’s office lacked serious accountability under Stone.
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