January 01, 1980 News & Features » Cover Story


Lawrence Williams 

So what's his?

"I would like to establish a Mayor's Office of Family and Neighborhood Development," Williams says. Downtown development has been a focus for 30 years, he says, but "now is the time to focus on the family."

As mayor, Williams says he also would work to increase the budget of the city's departments of Public Health and Human Services. Currently they receive a combined $67 million — or 13 percent — of a roughly $515 million city budget. "And it has always been cut," Williams says.

He says he would find more money in three ways:

First, he would focus on neighborhoods to make people more comfortable, and the city more attractive to homeowners. That, in turn, would create rising real-estate assessments, he says: "I want strong neighborhoods that are contributing to our overall tax-base income."

Second, he says he would ferret out inefficiency in city government — in school costs, services and infrastructure — using what he says are crucial technical skills. "I believe that many people in City Hall, from a technocrat point of view, want to see me in there," he says.

Finally, he says he would work to increase tourism, promote the city and advance the business community.

By finding more dollars for the Health and Human Services departments, he says he could increase social services in schools and improve response time to those in need, among other things. He also wants to create a more high-profile presence for social workers. He wants to see a "Family and Neighborhood Development" car on the streets, he says, "for every police car that's out there."

Williams says he brings community planning experience, having helped establish three community development corporations, has worked closely with the city's Planning Department and is in tune with troubled neighborhoods, he says, living in a subdivision in the middle of Mosby, Fairfield and Whitcomb courts. "So for all my life I have understood and known all of the real issues out there," he says.

"We have the legislature downtown, and we have just about finished jumpstarting downtown," he says. "I ran because I wanted them to focus on three-quarters of the pie, which is South Side, Church Hill and Highland Park — if you want downtown to be successful."

But now is the time to shift focus, he says. Within a half mile of downtown, he says, there's crisis, and "that's not right for a capital city."

The candidates...

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