District 5 State Representative Dan Williams has been involved in public service all his adult life, whether it has been in his current position, serving on Athens City Council, as the Mayor of Athens, on the Athens City School Board of Education, or as part of the National Guard.
Dan graduated from Athens High School and Auburn University. He served for 26 years in the 1343rd Engineering Battalion based in Athens, and finished his military service in the Guard with the rank of First Sergeant.
He served on the Athens City Board of Education from 1979 until 1984, was on the Athens City Council from 1984 until 1992, and then was Mayor of Athens until 2010 when he was elected to the House. He also spent 25 years working for the State of Alabama in Human Resources. He is married to Kay, has four children and seven grandchildren.
One of his grandchildren is adopted, and is African American. Earlier this year, when Representative Alvin Holmes of Montgomery made the inflammatory statement that “99 percent of the whites who are sitting in here now, if their daughter got pregnant by a black man, they are going to make their daughter have an abortion,” Dan stood up and challenged him by saying, “I have a black grandchild running around my house, and I love him just like I love the rest of my grandkids.” I would have loved to have been there for that, and am proud both that he supported his son and daughter-in-law in their decision to adopt the child, and standing up for the truth that all kids are worth loving.
He has been no stranger to controversy while serving in the House. He voted for Carly’s Law, the bill that would allow for the medical use of an oil form of marijuana to help reduce seizures experienced by children with a rare form of epilepsy. He was not for the bill at first, but it was spending 20 minutes face to face with a mother whose child suffered from up to 300 seizures per month that changed his mind.
I learned something from Dan about being a legislator, and that is that it is as important to make sure that bad legislation never sees the light of day as it is to make sure that good legislation gets passed. He is committed to doing both. One of the things that has been tough about his time in the House has been the partisan politics. Both of his positions on the City Council and as Mayor were non-partisan, and he, a lifelong Republican in a Democratic county found a way to work with people of both parties. He felt that Carly’s Law was a good example of both parties working together to get something done.
He also told me that he “wants to take more burdens off small businesses,” in the form of taxes and regulations. He has been involved in recruiting for economic development, and knows what is involved. “If we could have 4,000 small businesses expand by just two people each, we would have 8,000 new jobs.” Then he added something interesting: “Jobs are therapeutic.” He’s right, they are. People just do better when they are working than when they are not. He is also determined to do all he can to keep from having the State legislature raise taxes.
In regard to education, something he spent several years involved with as a school board member, he wants to see “our kids getting more dual education, where they can get technical training while still in high school.” He added, “When taxpayers send kids to school, they deserve a good product, and not leave kids in failing schools.” He agrees that the controversy surrounding the potential implementation of the Common Core curriculum is understandable, and that Common Core needs to be much more closely examined.
He is personally interested in what local governments want, and to fight for those interests. I also learned that anytime a county in the State of Alabama wants to raise taxes, it has to be approved on a state wide level. That is not the case with cities.
He wonders if it is time to bring some changes to the Constitution of our state, and is looking for a constitutionally sound way to make it easier to get things done, as well as for local governments to function more smoothly. “There are so many rules and regulations that are just unnecessary,” he said.
I was encouraged to know that he supports the decriminalization of Certified Practical Midwives facilitating home births. “If a woman wants to have a midwife, and have her baby at home, she should be able to, and a trained midwife should be able to practice,” he said. “Perhaps there needs to be some licensing, but home birth is a choice that needs to be protected,” he added.
His three most important areas of focus are “jobs, education, and values,” and if re-elected, will do all he can to fight for them. If you want to join his fight, then vote for Representative Dan Williams on June 3rd.
By: Ali Elizabeth Turner