March 7, 2005: Headlines: COS - Guatemala: State Government: Copley News Service: Guatemala RPCV Seth Webb is special assistant to Governor Blagojevich

Peace Corps Online: State: Illinois: February 8, 2005: Index: PCOL Exclusive: Illinois : March 7, 2005: Headlines: COS - Guatemala: State Government: Copley News Service: Guatemala RPCV Seth Webb is special assistant to Governor Blagojevich

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Guatemala RPCV Seth Webb is special assistant to Governor Blagojevich

Guatemala RPCV Seth Webb is special assistant to Governor Blagojevich

Guatemala RPCV Seth Webb is special assistant to Governor Blagojevich

New job 'good change' for Gov.'s special assistant

By Bernard Schoenburg

March 7, 2005


You many not know the name of Seth Webb, but if you've been close to Gov. Blagojevich during the past couple of years, you may have seen him.

Webb, 30, is special assistant to the governor. He helps set up events for the governor, such as the bus tours that Blagojevich took through areas of the state after the 2003 legislative session. He also is often the person who follows up when the governor meets constituents who have problems, questions or ideas. Webb helped get the governor in position to have his picture taken with various groups after a recent event in Springfield.

Webb grew up in Georgia and Pennsylvania and received a history degree from Kenyon College in Gambier, Ohio. He had been a high school soccer player and got a job in late 1997 for ESPN, working in Bristol, Conn., producing soccer telecasts from across the globe.

"We would get the (video) feed from Europe or South America," he said. "Then we would voice it over in Spanish, Portuguese (or) English, and put it out on the international channel or ESPN 1 or 2."

After about four months, Webb got a job with the parks and recreation department of the city of New York during the administration of Rudy Giuliani. After a little more than a year, he was named director of marketing and special events by parks Commissioner Henry Stern. According to his resume, he produced dozens of events in Central Park, including concerts by Sting and Sheryl Crow and the Dalai Lama's 1999 public address, each drawing more than 30,000 people. He says he also raised more than $3 million from corporate sponsors for agency programs and worked with the mayor's office to produce citywide events like a Yankees parade and First Night 2000 celebrations. An "Easter Eggstravaganza" in about 40 acres of Central Park was one event, and "we called it the largest Easter egg hunt in the world," he said.

There was also design and launch of a parks Web site.

How did such a young person get to do all that?

"When you're in a city agency, especially like the parks department in New York City, you don't have a lot of money, and so you try to hire people who will work long hours and get nothing, with just the motivation of trying to make a career for themselves," he said.

Among those Webb worked with at the parks department was Bradley Tusk, who a few years later became deputy governor of Illinois.

In 2001, Webb went on a two-year stint with the Peace Corps, working as a municipal development volunteer in San Juan Cotzal, Guatemala. He said he joined the Peace Corps because he had lived in Valencia, Spain, for four months during college and wanted to live abroad again. He also wanted to continue to "make some type of contribution to public service."

Webb says he speaks Spanish and "a little bit of the Mayan language" that was spoken in San Juan Cotzal. He was paid $225 per month, out of which he had to pay his rent of about $45 for "a little house on the side of the hill."

Webb said he and Tusk kept in touch while Webb was in the Peace Corps. After Tusk landed the job with Blagojevich, "he asked me to come help out. I sent my resume, talked to everybody here, and made the move." When his Peace Corps time ended, Webb said, "four days later, I was on the 16th floor of the Thompson Center."

Webb said he's never worked on a campaign and isn't sure he'd want to. In his job now, he has some hand in writing speeches for the governor, particularly at smaller events. He also prepares briefings for those events, "like what is the event and what are some potential things" to talk about.

Until I interviewed Webb in the governor's press office at the Statehouse this week, I had heard Webb utter only a few words. To us reporters, at least, he doesn't make himself the focus of attention. I had also heard he can be abrupt.

"The position that he's in, working directly with the governor, he needs oftentimes very quick answers," said Rebecca Rausch, spokeswoman for Blagojevich who sat in on the interview. "I would say that there's probably not a lot of room for small talk."

"I think we work at a pretty quick pace," Webb said.

Webb, who has run a New York City Marathon and biked along the Chinese-Tibet border, calls the new job "an incredible opportunity. ... To be able to work on this level and to be a part of the process where you can really make things happen is pretty exciting," he said. He makes $75,000.

As my questions came to a close, a Blagojevich meeting with legislative leaders apparently also concluded. A line of people - apparently including the governor - walked by the door and headed for the exits and Abraham Lincoln Capital Airport.

Webb quickly zipped up a suitcase on the floor, got hold of its handle, and took off, so as not to miss the plane to Chicago.

A quick pace, indeed, for a single guy with a bunch of interesting experiences.

When this story was posted in March 2005, this was on the front page of PCOL:

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Story Source: Copley News Service

This story has been posted in the following forums: : Headlines; COS - Guatemala; State Government



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