The alderwoman who represents Ezra Stiles and Morse colleges is widely expected not to seek a third term in this fall’s election, setting the stage for a possible return by the woman she unseated four years ago.

Grace Gibbs, whose ward also includes the Dixwell neighborhood, has said repeatedly that she has not made a decision about re-election and will not give a timetable for doing so.

But Ward 22 Democratic committee co-chair Shirley Ward said she had heard Gibbs would not be seeking re-election and hoped she would have a change of heart.

“It’s going to be a tremendous loss. I hope that she will change her mind,” Ward said.

Alderwoman Mae Ola Riddick, who Gibbs defeated in the Democratic primary in 1997, is the first candidate to surface as a possible replacement.

Riddick could not be reached for comment, but Ward 2 Alderman Jelani Lawson ’96 said that in a conversation with him, Riddick had indicated an interest in running.

Riddick, who lived for many years in the ward’s Elm Haven housing project, played a key role in the successful 1993 campaign to get a $45 million federal grant to rebuild the project.

Riddick faced some controversy during her two years on the board.

The U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development criticized the Elm Haven Development Corp., of which she was a powerful member, for not being representative of the project’s tenants.

Just before the 1997 election, Riddick’s re-election chances were dealt a blow when she was evicted from her Elm Haven residence for failure to pay back rent. She was unseated by Gibbs, who complained that Riddick focused too exclusively on Elm Haven issues and ignored the rest of the ward.

Ward committee co-chair Drew King was upbeat about a potential Riddick return.

“It’s a good idea,” King said. “My opinion is that you’re going to need someone in the ward who is going to be about the people, and she did a lot before.”

But Ward said she would prefer Gibbs.

“I think Grace is more of an asset for the ward,” she said. “Mae Ola has done a great deal for the ward also, but I think Grace would be an ideal candidate.”

No student candidates have stepped forward as potential candidates.

In 1999, Gibbs headed off a strong challenge by Pete Stein ’99 in a contentious general election that culminated with the circulation of a racially-inflammatory campaign letter by former ward co-chairs Pete Gray and Linda Cox, who accused Stein of “carpetbagging.”