WORCESTER – Nearly every morning, Bill Coleman finds himself sitting over a cup of coffee in a booth at Gold Star Restaurant on West Boylston St. in Worcester.
In this place, everyone knows Bill Coleman and Bill Coleman knows everyone. As Coleman takes long sips of his coffee and waits to order his breakfast, a constant flow of people approach him to shake his hand, wish him well, and tell him he has their vote.
“You better vote for this guy,” an older gentleman exclaimed to the people sitting at the counter top.
Coleman, 62, laughs because he’s likely heard it all before. He’s probably heard it many, many times in his ten previous tries to get elected to Worcester’s city council.
This time, however, Coleman said he’s back to “liking government again” and “likes his chances” on the District 1 preliminary ballot. He has a new outlook to his approach on this campaign, and a new lease on life following complications from the removal of a noncancerous tumor last year that resulted in him spending six months in a hospital and losing 120 pounds.
“I have good days. Basically, I feel a lot better,” Coleman said in an interview on Aug. 29. “I have the energy of 19-year-old, but then five hours later I’m wiped out. My body is still healing, but I’m lucky to be alive.”
As far as how his hospital stay has affected his stamina on his campaign, Coleman said he’s still typically up from 6 AM to 11 PM every day — with a large amount of that time standing out and holding signs.
“I do whatever I need to do to make sure I’m out there with my sign,” Coleman said.
Coleman’s campaign platform consists of several projects that Coleman would like to introduce in his first term if elected including linking District 1 to the recent expansion of downtown development, educating students in the public school system on how government works, offering tax relief wherever possible, providing more services to the elderly, and developing a program to make homeownership more affordable in Worcester.
“Because of the diversity in District 1 — where you have the haves and the have nots — with a 38% voter turnout on the district’s west side and a 7% turnout on its east side, some people feel like they pay too much in taxes, and others feel that there’s not enough services in return for those taxes,” Coleman said.
“How do you make sure we get the best services at the biggest bank for our buck? How do we provide relief and economic opportunities to those that pay a lot in taxes and those that can’t afford to get by, respectively? These are questions I would like to answer,” Coleman added.
Coleman, originally of Philadelphia, PA and currently of 36 Acushnet Ave., is one of four candidates eyeing the vacant District 1 city council seat that was opened when incumbent Anthony J. Economou decided he wouldn’t run for re-election this fall. The preliminary election will be held on Tuesday, Sept. 12.
No stranger to local politics and community activism, Coleman got his start working for former Senator Ed Brooke, the first African American in the U.S. Senate. Coleman studied at Worcester State University. Recently, he played an integral part in getting a World War II monument celebrating the Honor Roll of Worcester’s Colored Citizens.
On the day of the election, Coleman said he will be doing a standout at several locations across the district and every polling location and making sure people get rides to the polls if they need them.
When asked what he would do if he makes it past the preliminary and wins the election in November, Coleman said he’s “ready on day one.”
“I would do the simple things that need to get done,” Coleman said. “I’m in the situation where people are telling me to ‘Just get in there, Bill. When you’re in there, your mailbox will start filling up.’ But I have to get in.”
“A lot of people have stuck by me. A lot of people have run for office once or twice and have just given up. I know I have a contribution to be made. I’ve seen how government works, I know how I want it to work, and I want to be a part of how it could work for all of us,” Coleman said. “I want to see our city really elevate.”
Coleman is confident in his chances in the preliminary election, but is all too familiar with the notion that he can’t rest on his laurels.
“You can always do more. I’m not thinking about limits. I’m thinking about what else I can do to move on. If I make it through September, I’ll make it through November,” Coleman said.