Anthony Williams has been elected as the next Mayor of Abilene. We’ll follow up with a post-election interview soon but we have included our pre-election interview with Mr. Williams, by Victoria Aldana, below:
Anthony Williams has announced his intent to run for Mayor of Abilene after 15 years of service on city council.
Williams was elected in a special November 2001 election, currently serving as city council place three and mayor pro tempore.
“It’s been a significant educational opportunity,” Williams said. He announced his bid for city council when he just was 32 years old. Although familiar with how things were done in regards to the structure of municipality, he really only had a surface understanding. In the years since his election, he has gotten a better grasp on the operations of city government and its connectivity with those at the state and federal levels. He said he gained a deeper understanding of how everything works together.
Williams grew up in Abilene and graduated from both Abilene High School and McMurry University. He has three children with his wife of over 27 years, Lynnette, and is the Chief Business Officer at Abilene Christian University.
When he and his wife decided that he would run for mayor, the pair knew it was for more than just a title. “I wanted to run not because I want a title as much as to fulfill a testimony. Abilene’s been very, very good to me,” he said.
When Williams was just four-years-old, his father was shot and killed in Abilene. “It was the Highland Church that really reached out to me and my mother and my sister and their involvement, and more accurately their investment, in me has made all the difference,” said Williams. “I really try to live my life in a way where the city of Abilene receive a return on their investment from me over 44 years ago. And so I want to serve, and I’ve been doing so all of my adult life.”
Williams has 25 years worth of service in the community and wants to continue serving Abilene. Currently, he is a board member on Community in Schools, a commissioner for West Texas Youth Football and a board member on the Community Foundation of Abilene.
“Abilene is a great community and we see a lot of great leaders who have fought many battles and their victories are things that we benefit from,” he said. “I’ve talked about diversity a lot, but the diversity that I’m talking about goes beyond gender and ethnicity. The focal point really is diversity of thought and allowing more people around the table to interject their thoughts.”
This may not mean if an individual has a recommendation or an idea that the community adopts that idea, but they should be able to raise their hand and contribute. Williams plans to implement some initiatives that involve participation from all Abilenians.
He described Abilene in terms of an ideal flow chart, where Abilene citizens are at the very top, then elected officials are below them and then administration and staff. “I want to be able to lead an effort hat we allow that flow chart not to exist in theory but to actually exist.”
Road maintenance is a concern among many in Abilene. Williams said this summer, between $4 and $6 million will need to be identified to be used for streets. “That’s going to be a tough conversation and a solution will not be easy, but we must do that and I’m confident we will,” he said.
Williams described the ideal mayor. “I think as mayor you should be accessible, that you should be available and most of all, you should be accountable. That’s what I’ve said, but just not what I’ve said, I think I’ve done that in my 25 years of volunteering in Abilene.”
He and his team have been very intentional throughout the campaign. His signs don’t emphasize ‘Anthony for Mayor’ as much as ‘Anthony for Abilene,’ ‘Anthony for Dyess,’ ‘Anthony for the Arts’ and ‘Anthony for our Future,’ because he said he thinks being the mayor of any city has to go beyond that one person. It can’t be about him or her; it has to be about the community.
One of the strong focuses of the campaign is the city’s neighborhoods. Williams has had opportunities to lead different initiatives from a grassroots level in Abilene neighborhoods. He sees them not a hand-out as much as a hand-up. Back in 2008, he led an initiative which surveyed neighborhoods, tried to identify what the needs and expectations were in those neighborhoods, and then tried to provide resources that would allow them to take care of themselves. The Abilene Neighborhood Initiative, as it’s called, has been so successful the city has adopted it as the model to address all neighborhoods.
“I’m confident I’m going to become mayor of Abilene, and when I do I’m going to hand the keys to the Abilene community and allow them to sit behind the steering wheel.”