William “Dock” Walls news conference
William “Dock” Walls is in for another round of campaigning as he throws his hat in the ring as one of five for the Chicago Mayoral race.
Walls, who has run and lost races for mayor, city clerk, governor and Congress, knows the challenge of getting on a ballot. He describes his runs for governor and Congress as warm-ups for his 2011 mayoral bid, which is cause for concern since he has generated little publicity in his campaigns. According to a Tribune/WGN poll he had less than 50 percent name recognition and his support was at 1 percent. That’s unfortunate because when you hear him speak you get that he’s intelligent and has great ideas as to how to solve some of the city’s problems. It’s easy to understand why he served as Confidential Assistant to Mayor Harold Washington.
When asked about his reason for running for office, Walls begins, “Governor was a dry political run,” Walls said of his aborted Democratic primary challenge to Gov. Pat Quinn in 2010. “You don’t run for governor believing you are going to win; you run to make sure there is a discussion relevant to your community.”
Walls has not ever been an elected politician in fact his most noteworthy experience in public life came as an aide to the late Mayor Harold Washington. He resigned his liaison post in a power struggle with other mayoral advisers.
Apparently it was the highlight of his political career and even though former Washington staffers have questioned Walls’ characterization of his role, citing that he was more of a scheduler and advance man than the trusted adviser he claims to have been he has never backed down. Instead, despite the discrepancy, Walls often cites his tenure with the city’s first African-American mayor — even when it opens him to criticism from rivals on the campaign trail.
“I was around when Harold Washington was mayor. I was his floor leader” in the Legislature, Carol Moseley Braun told Walls after he criticized her at a recent community forum. “I don’t remember you doing anything but holding the door.”
What isn’t clear is why he was not the Washington backed candidate for City Clerk. After losing the 1987 clerk’s race against a Washington-backed candidate, Walls disappeared from the political scene for nearly two decades. He spent time working in the telephone industry as a recruiter, helped in his father’s construction firm, set up a business selling T-shirts and opened comedy clubs giving him a spectrum of experience.
A lot has changed, the clubs are closed, but Walls still has American Shirtshak, an online clothing company that he said earns a net profit of about $40,000 a year. Unlike the other candidates, Walls has refused to release his income tax returns because his wife is oppose since they file jointly.
And yet some things stay the same, in the 2007 mayor’s race, Walls garnered 9 percent of the vote against Mayor Richard Daley and Cook County Circuit Clerk Dorothy Brown not enough to garner victory or establish name recognition.
Taking a note from Obama, Walls has run a “minimalist” utilizing social media and collecting small campaign donations. Some find it strange that he has not been an aggressive campaigner yet appears at community forums and debates where he is invited but reported just $8,000 in his campaign fund at the end of 2010.
Almost righteously he proclaims, “We want to go into that office unbought and unbossed so we can take care of the people’s business.”