By Jasmine Willis
WAYLAND — A local business owner and family man is looking to add his name to the race for mayor in the upcoming election.
Independent Candidate, Mr. Eric Williams II has put himself in the race for mayor in the March 16 village election. Williams stated his choice for running as an Independent was to be for all of the people. It is not about the politics; it is about the people.
Wayland Mayor Michael Parks is currently holding that position of office. Williams was able to get 55 signatures for a document needed to put himself on the upcoming ballot for elections. In his door-to-door campaign strategy he spoke with various people in the village about their views about what a mayor should bring to the community. He found that many didn’t know who the current mayor was or what his position required. There was concern about property taxes being too high and the water bills. Since this is a poverty-stricken community many were eager to see more business and opportunities come into the village.
Williams sat down with this local reporter to discuss his passion, goals, and strategy if elected mayor.
“We know over the years that Wayland has rapidly declined in population, business, and economy. People are coming to the village, but there is nothing here to make them stay. I am serious about putting my name on the ballot and bringing change to the community I grew up in,” Williams said. “I stand up for what is right. I give people a sound voice. I am good about identifying the problems and working on a solution. People come to me and trust me for many things. A few months ago there was a wild girl running around the area. I had a call about it and was able to find her. She was on drugs and I talked her down. We haven’t had a problem with her since that day.”
Williams said there needs to be more transparency in the local government. It is often hard to reach anyone in the office and there is more need for connection to the community. Technology needs to be updated and easier to access for the community as many have voiced to Williams.
“I think we can make better use of the technology. I plan on using social media platforms to reach out to the community. We can send electronic surveys out to people. People need to be able to have easier access to the budget and what is going on in the village,” he said. “We need to figure out how to get the community more involved if they can’t make it to the meetings. I would plan on having more meetings and conferences. We need to go above and beyond.”
Williams said this is a strong farming community that needs to have access to all the grants, resources, and opportunities available to help it thrive. Right now, it is hard on the farmers and homeowners in the village to sustain themselves. Williams wants to reevaluate the local taxes and see if homes need to be reassessed. People are coming from out of the area and leaving due to an unfair hike in taxes.
Williams said he wants to partner with the farming community to make it stronger. We lost a lot of local produce and milk last year. He was pleased to see a Farmer’s Market had formed in the community and hopes that will be seen again in the future. Bigger business needs to be brought in on Exit 3, and the town can work with the village in bringing the county resources in to sustain the community.
“The children have nowhere to go. One of my main focuses is going to be on the youth. We need help funding a community center here. We tried and failed in the past. We need something to get these children off the streets and out of trouble. Last year we had some youth vandalize Victory Park since they had nothing else to do,” Williams said. “I want to work with the schools, police, and the parents to see what we can do to make a change in our younger population.”
Williams added the police, fire department and Springwater and Wayland EMS need to work together. He wants to help with proper funding to get the departments what they need to make their jobs safer, more efficient, and get the crime off the streets.
“I am running for mayor because I have the passion, energy, and a sound voice. I want to see the community I grew up in grow. I have always believed in hard work and dedication. My father (Eric Williams I) taught me all about that when I was seven years old helping him at Greater Tater. My father worked there for 30 years. He always told me never burn a bridge you might have to cross again,” he said. “All I have ever known is honesty, work, integrity, and passion. We need to find a better way to connect. We need more energy in this community.”
Williams thinks highly of the village workers who have done wonders for the water project, sidewalks, streets, and keep the community safe. He wants to work with them to keep the community going forward.
Williams mentioned the main thing is village residents want to be informed well ahead of time about things like a $55 increase in their water bills. Especially when most of them live paycheck to paycheck and don’t have room in their budgets for extra expenses.
“I am thinking about what happens 15 years down the road for the future of this community. What will we have for them at that point if we don’t do something about it now? We need to work together to think long term. We need to bring it back to what it was like 10 years ago when this place was thriving. We had stores, restaurants, jobs, and things to do. Everything we do now will impact us down the road,” he said. “They told me being a mayor would be a part-time job. I don’t see how that is possible with all the work that needs to be done. We need to work with the people and see what they need. We need to give them a voice. If you say you will do something you need to do it.”
Williams worked for ADT in Rochester for five years. He was the district manager in charge of a Fortune 500 company’s budget. He had up to 40 people reporting to him. He had to a huge responsibility at a young age. He understood how one little decision could make a giant impact in a month’s time. He understood the urgency and persistence in his work. The long days were the ones that produced the best results.
Williams said at the end of the day it is not about the labels you put on a person it is about what you see in their heart and character. He said all the money can be taken away. What you are left with in the end is how you treat other people. Williams is a family man. He married his high school sweetheart, Tabitha (White) Williams. They have three children, Jada Williams (13), Mr Eric Williams III (3), and Miss Ari’ah Williams (1). They have a fourth on the way.
Williams said he wants to listen to the people, hear their stories, and help them reach their goals. A community works best when everyone is lifting each other up.
“Growing up in a mostly white community as a black kid I had to deal with a lot of racism. I understood that people are not born racist. They are taught that. It starts at home. I experienced a lot of racism growing up and saw how divided we all were. I taught my kids that it doesn’t matter what color your skin is, how much money you have, or what you look like. It is about what is inside your heart.” Williams said. “I plan on addressing the bullying going on in this community. We need stronger anti-bullying techniques. I have faith in this community. I don’t think we are always going to be set in these ways. It all starts at home. It is all about morals and work ethics.”
Williams concluded that his political mentor is Assemblywoman Marjorie Byrnes. She has come to his home to talk about different issues within the community. She has influences him and pushed him to be a stronger role in the community.
“I love that woman. She relates to people so well. That is how I am and how I am going to be as mayor. She fights for the rights of the people,” he said.
Williams plans on resigning from Springwater and Wayland EMS is elected mayor as to not create bias when working with all the departments. He has been proud to watch it grow and be part of it for four years. He wishes them a bright future.
Williams is owner of A Master’s Touch in Wayland at 11461 State Rt. 21 Suite C. It is open Mon. to Fri. from 9 a.m. to 2 p.m.