AVONDALE — Katie Sieracki’s job — managing director of summits for a business-to-business media company — may sound foreign to some people, but the 38-year-old said all it really means is she helps bring people together.
Sieracki is hoping to put those interpersonal skills to use at the local government level. She’s running for 33rd ward alderman against incumbent Ald. Deb Mell and Puerto Rico native Rossana Rodriguez.
“What I do for a living is literally bring people together, and I believe that’s the kind of leadership the people in this ward deserve,” Sieracki said.
Sieracki lives in Albany Park with her husband, two children, ages 8 and 10, and their pets, a 16-year-old dog and a two-and-a-half-year-old hedgehog. The hedgehog has his own Instagram account, Hiro4AlderHog — “I’ve billed him as my running mate,” Sieracki said with a laugh.
Sieracki has lived in Albany Park for about a decade, though her familiarity with Chicago stretches back further. As a kid, Sieracki, who grew up in the Detroit area, would often visit Chicago with her family to see all of the old spots her grandparents, native North Siders, would frequent, along with all of the lakefront attractions.
When Sieracki and her husband moved from the Detroit area to Chicago in 2001, they intentionally chose Albany Park as their home base.
“When it was time to start raising our family, we chose Albany Park because we knew it was such a family neighborhood. We value diversity,” she said.
It wasn’t until the 2016 presidential election that Sieracki started to get involved in politics. Frustrated by the outcome of the election, Sieracki volunteered for a string of local progressive campaigns, including that of Ameya Pawar, Daniel Biss and Sol Flores.
“All of those candidates I found to be so genuinely inspiring. I was renewed in my spirit to see what government can do,” Sieracki said.
“We’ve had the same family in office in [the 33rd ward] for more than 40 years, and I realized if we really wanted to find someone to represent the ward, in that same spirit of the other candidates that I was inspired by, that I shouldn’t wait, and that I could step up and I could be that representative.”
In her current role at the business-to-business company, which she’s held for the last six years, Sieracki said she often works with municipal government agencies across the country. Those connections, she said, would prove beneficial if elected alderman.
“I can call someone up and say, ‘Talk to me about those smart garbage cans you have in Pittsburgh,’ or in Phoenix, where they do an excellent job of diverting waste,” she said, adding that “fresh perspectives” are needed to move the city forward.
Sieracki she she wants to bring transparency and fairness to the ward, which includes parts of Avondale, Albany Park, Irving Park and Ravenswood Manor.
Some of her ideas include launching a program to preserve affordable two- and four-flat buildings, hosting pop-up ward nights and creating a long-range development plan with the community.
“Folks on some blocks will tell me that they get really great response most of the time, and other blocks feel extremely ignored,” Sieracki said of her time spent canvassing. “I strongly believe that it shouldn’t matter what block you live on to feel like you matter and you’re getting the city services you deserve.”
Mell’s campaign didn’t immediately respond to a request for comment late Friday, though the alderman, who has held the seat since 2013, has said she’s proven she’s committed to the lives of working people, pointing to her support of $13 minimum wage, paid sick leave and fair work week legislation.
She’s also marched alongside teachers, support staff, window washers, and just recently, hotel workers, all of whom were fighting for fair treatment.
Rodriguez is a longtime community organizer who got her start protesting in the small mountain town of Puerto Rico where she grew up. She also has a career in community theater.
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