Former 50th Ward aldermanic candidate Salman Aftab announced this morning that he's backing incumbent Bernard Stone in the ward's runoff election. A few weeks ago Aftab vowed that if Stone were forced into a runoff by one of the other candidates, he'd back the challenger. "I will support ABS—anybody but Stone," Aftab said.
Today, though, he told reporters at City Hall that he would back "NBS—nobody but Stone." Aftab said his supporters had told him they wanted to support Stone, and he'd decided that he needed to represent them. But it was clear that he was motivated primarily out of distaste for Naisy Dolar, who is squaring off against the incumbent in the April 17 runoff.
Aftab's earlier criticism of Stone was "what I felt at that time," he said this morning. "I thought then that I was running against very humble, gracious challengers. But I didn't find Naisy Dolar as humble and gracious as I thought."
Aftab blames Dolar's campaign for alerting the Sun-Times to his history of five arrests for disturbances stemming from arguments and fights. "People in the neighborhood really have to do their research and find out people's background and experience and their temperament," Dolar told the paper. Aftab was never convicted for any of the incidents and believes Dolar's mention of them unfairly tarnished his candidacy.
But Stone was happy to accept Aftab's endorsement. Dolar has tried to rally the ward's Asian communities around her attempt to become the first Asian-American member of the City Council. Aftab would have been both the first Asian-American and the first Muslim in the council if he'd won.
"What [the endorsement] indicates is that the Asian community is truly behind my candidacy," Stone said.
Aftab was reminded that he once agreed with lame duck alderman Arenda Troutman's characterization of sitting aldermen as "hos," yet here he was endorsing one.
"I have never accused alderman Stone directly—I have never said he was corrupt personally," Aftab said. "I said he was part of a corrupt system, and I still say he is.
"But he's said he'll work very hard on that."