Williams enters commissioner race to ‘get the job done’
Resident pledges to improve accountability, opportunities for youth
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.”
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.