Wil­liams enters com­mis­sioner race to ‘get the job done’

Res­i­dent pledges to im­prove ac­count­abil­ity, op­por­tu­ni­ties for youth

Maryland Independent - - News - By PAUL LAGASSE pla­gasse@somd­news.com Twitter: @PaulIndyNews

Wal­dorf res­i­dent Jerry E. Wil­liams was the first to file as a Demo­cratic chal­lenger for the Dis­trict 3 com­mis­sioner’s seat cur­rently held by Com­mis­sion­ers’ Vice Pres­i­dent Amanda Ste­wart (D).

“I think this county is at a piv­otal point in terms of what we want to re­ally look like in the 21st cen­tury,” Wil­liams said in an in­ter­view.

“I see amaz­ing growth in the county from the busi­ness per­spec­tive,” Wil­liams said. “But I’m not so cer­tain that it’s been smart growth, growth that would in­crease our tax base and per­haps even re­duce the taxes that we have on res­i­dents here within the county.”

A 19-year res­i­dent of Charles County, Wil­liams re­cently re­tired af­ter 31 years as a fed­eral chief in­for­ma­tion of­fi­cer and chief fi­nan­cial of­fi­cer with sev­eral agen­cies. In 2010, as CIO of the De­part­ment of Hous­ing and Ur­ban De­vel­op­ment, he was named to a White House Of­fice of Man­age­ment ad­vi­sory board tasked with re­view­ing the fed­eral gov­ern­ment’s fi­nan­cial man­age­ment sys­tems.

“Given my fi­nan­cial back­ground, I have a will­ing­ness and, I be­lieve, an ap­ti­tude to fig­ure out cre­ative ways that we’re go­ing to re­duce both the prop­erty tax and the pig­gy­back tax by lever­ag­ing the busi­nesses we bring into this county,” Wil­liams said.

Other is­sues at the cen­ter of Wil­liams’ cam­paign plat­form in­clude im­prov­ing the county’s trans­porta­tion in­fra­struc­ture, pro­vid­ing op­por­tu­ni­ties for youth and im­prov­ing the ac­count­abil­ity of the county’s elected of­fi­cials.

“Folks are mov­ing into Charles County from Prince Ge­orge’s County and South­ern Vir­ginia,” Wil­liams said. “In­fra­struc­ture mat­ters greatly to those folks. They are con­cerned about their com­mute.”

Wil­liams wants to “rein­vig­o­rate” the dis­cus­sion about light rail rapid tran­sit, such as the re­cently pro­posed line that would run along Route 5/U.S. 301 from the Branch Av­enue Metro­rail sta­tion in Suit­land to White Plains.

In ad­di­tion to light rail, Wil­liams would also en­cour­age the county to un­der­take road im­prove­ments and in­ves­ti­gate other trans­porta­tion al­ter­na­tives.

Wil­liams would like the county to in­vest more in ed­u­ca­tional and leisure ac­tiv­i­ties for youth. He said the county should do more to sup­port parks and re­cre­ation pro­grams, com­mu­nity cen­ters, and ed­u­ca­tional, ath­letic and cul­tural ac­tiv­i­ties. Wil­liams said he be­lieves that let­ting kids just sit at home with­out adult su­per­vi­sion is “a recipe for fail­ure.”

“I think that growth is fine, but we can’t leave our kids be­hind,” he said.

Wil­liams said that county com­mis­sion­ers need to be more ac­count­able to cit­i­zens. Four- or five-year strate­gic plans, he said, en­sure that the com­mis­sion­ers who ap­proved them are likely to still be in of­fice for the plan’s du­ra­tion. Wil­liams also pro­poses post­ing county per­for­mance sta­tis­tics in real time us­ing a tool sim­i­lar to Bal­ti­more City’s Com­pS­tat crime track­ing sys­tem.

Wil­liams would also like to see com­mis­sion­ers be more proac­tive about en­gag­ing with cit­i­zens.

“I think we have to bring our meet­ings into the com­mu­ni­ties and have a con­ver­sa­tion about schools, crim­i­nal jus­tice, and parks and re­cre­ation for the kids,” he said. He points to the re­cent out­cry over the wa­ter­shed conser va­tion dis­trict as an ex­am­ple of what hap­pens when elected of­fi­cials don’t en­gage res­i­dents in ev­ery step of the de­lib­er­a­tive process.

Wil­liams said he is stak­ing his can­di­dacy on get­ting re­sults.

“If I can’t make demon­stra­ble change oc­cur within the county, then I am al­to­gether will­ing to step aside and let some­one else come in,” Wil­liams said. “I would not run for an­other term. Be­cause it’s about get­ting the job done.”

STAFF PHOTO BY PAUL LAGASSE

Jerry E. Wil­liams is a re­tired fed­eral ex­ec­u­tive whose 31-year ca­reer in­cluded ten­ure as the chief in­for­ma­tion of­fi­cer of the De­part­ment of Hous­ing and Ur­ban De­vel­op­ment.

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