Hometown pride. Eddie Siebert has it in spades. As Director of Constituent Services for the Mayor’s Office, he spends much of his days trying to instill it in the people of Meriden.
Patch caught up with Siebert — or maybe it’s more accurate to say tried to keep up with him—earlier this week in the office he shares with Mayor Mike Rohde. There, he outlined an ever-growing list of city projects he has spearheaded. All the while he was fielding phone calls, checking emails, and hosting a high school student.
"He's a wonderfully positive, highly energetic, very capable, make-things-happen kind of person," Mayor Rohde says of his right-hand man.
When Siebert was hired in 2009, he jumped right into his role as chair of the committee tasked with getting an accurate census count of Meriden’s population. The resulting data from this huge undertaking has been helpful in securing grant money crucial to many city projects.
“It’s been a blistering pace ever since,” Siebert shares.
Here are just a few highlights of Siebert’s ongoing efforts to give the people of Meriden something to be proud of:
- He was instrumental in having Meriden named a for the abundance of healthy outdoor recreational opportunities it offers.
- He helps organize the annual coming up this Sunday at Hubbard Park.
- Siebert is bringing an end-of-summer carnival to the Hub for 11 days starting on August 22.
- His biggest project at the moment is a challenge—literally. He is applying for a Mayor’s Challenge grant from Bloomberg Philanthropies for the Bow Tie Project. This downtown revitalization endeavor includes rebuilding a blighted area around the old Factory H compound, creation of a transportation hub centering on the high-speed rail, and development of the Hub area. It is named for the bow-tie–shaped parcel of land involved. The top prize is $5 million, with four smaller $1 million dollar grants also being awarded. “I’m going to win the $5 million,” Siebert insists.
On top of these special projects, Siebert also sees to his daily duties taking care of constituent concerns and requests. He takes those responsibilities seriously, going so far as to personally shovel the sidewalk of an elderly resident, according to the mayor.
“I pride myself on not letting too many things slip through the cracks,” Siebert says.
Outside of work, he is very involved with the YMCA. Earlier this week he cooked 200 lobsters, 200 steaks and 200 ears of corn for the Y’s annual golf tournament fundraiser.
“And they were cooked perfectly, I might add,” he jokes.
“He does the work of 10 men,” Eddie’s mother, Joan Siebert, told Patch. “He’s always been very active. Even as a baby, I couldn’t keep up with him.”
But now Siebert is getting a taste of his own medicine. He is the proud parent of 18-month-old Zackary Edward who, according to his grandma, is every bit as active as his dad was at that age.
“I say to him, ‘Eddie, what goes around comes around,’” she laughs.
When asked about his son, Siebert beams, “He’s the love of my life. I can’t wait to see him every day.”
Siebert’s home life is just as busy as his work life these days. Besides chasing his son around, he and wife Eliza are renovating the house they recently bought near Hubbard Park. They plan to move in at the end of the month.
It will be a big change from living downtown on the third floor of the West Main Street building where his family runs the . His grandfather started the business in 1929, and it still operates today. The family owns the building.
Siebert was born and raised in Meriden, attending St. Mary’s School and Platt High School, class of 1981, where he was captain of both the baseball and basketball teams.
He did leave the city for a time to attend college in Florida and then work in the Boston area for several years. But he eventually returned home to help out in the family business.
It was during his childhood that Siebert picked up the nickname “spaghetti head” for his thick, curly black hair. To this day, people call him “Eddie Spaghetti,” the pen name that appears on the 11 children’s books he has authored.
His most recent book, Meriden Today, takes children on a journey in rhyming verse through the Silver City. It has been used in the Meriden school system to build not only literacy skills but hometown pride.
Writing isn’t Siebert’s only creative outlet. Examples of his many artistic endeavors crowd the walls of the mayor’s office. They include a poster for this year’s Italian Festival featuring a pizza created by Siebert and wooden plaques carved by Siebert and sold to raise money for various causes. He also writes songs and has completed a screenplay based on one of his books.
"He's a positive source of energy," the mayor told Patch. "He's been a wonderful resource for the city."
The admiration is mutual. “It has certainly taught me a lot being his assistant,” Siebert says of Mayor Mike. He mentions two important lessons he has learned from his mentor.
“I learned the importance of sticking with something,” he shares. The mayor has been working on flood control for 20 years, and his efforts are finally paying off. The downtown area is undergoing “the biggest transformation in the city’s geographic sights in 80 years,” Siebert claims.
“I also learned from him that there are always two sides to every story,” he adds.
Siebert’s own story has many sides, but one main theme: The grass isn’t always greener on the other side. That is a lesson he says he learned from his father.
Though he has traveled the world as a tour guide with his family’s business, Meriden is the place Siebert loves.
What are his dreams for his beloved city?
“It will be great to see all the things people are working on come to fruition,” he says.