Maybe it’s the hardscrabble, lifelong Chicagoan in him.
Maybe it’s the fact he’s managed a bar for more than two decades. Whatever the cause, one thing is for sure: William Siegmund doesn’t mince words.
“It should have been an HBO documentary,” said Siegmund, sitting in a sweatshirt, jeans and socks in the front room of his Washington Boulevard home. He was describing his experiences collecting signatures to run for alderman of the 28th Ward.
As he went door to door many residents, he recalled, were skeptical, dismissive or downright aggressive that a white man would ask for their vote in the mostly African-American but growing Hispanic ward.
But then, he said, he also had interactions like this one.
“I was out getting signatures in front of a school. A woman came up to me and said, ‘Excuse me, did you say you were running against Ed Smith?'” Siegmund recalled. “I thought I was going to get blasted.”
But he didn’t.
“She said, ‘I’ll sign that. I don’t know what that man’s been doing for (27) years.'”
Siegmund, 43, said the resident’s hunger for change is why he’s running.
A chatty, opinionated father of two, Siegmund has lived in Garfield Park for nine years. He was raised in Rogers Park and lived in Wicker Park for a time before settling into his first-floor condominium with his wife Marcy, 7-year-old son Otto, and 4-year-old daughter Addison.
For the past 23 years, Siegmund has managed a Downtown bar. As for his campaign, Siegmund insists that the ward’s bountiful public transportation-with service by the CTA’s Blue and Green lines-should be played up to attract new residents and businesses, and the former Madison Street corridor should be revived to its former life as a retail hotspot. Bringing a city festival to Garfield Park would also be one way to increase the community’s visibility, he adds.
-Sarah Ostman, Austintalks.org