Economic development, financial accountability and maintaining overall quality of life were among the issues St. Johns County Commission District 4 candidate Dick Williams highlighted at a Nocatee meet and greet last week.
A retired Ponte Vedra Beach resident with decades of experience in managing radio stations across the country, Williams outlined his platform before a crowd of supporters at Crosswater Hall.
“I’ll take the business approach that I’ve learned over 30 years of managing large budgets and large staffs and bring that to government,” the Republican said at the Nov. 2 event. “I think it’s necessary for us to maintain the quality of life that we enjoy, but also to protect the hard-earned taxpayers’ money.”
Williams, who suggested a zero-based budget as one way to ensure taxes are spent wisely and efficiently, also stressed the importance of boosting economic growth.
“With growth in our economy, we build a foundation that our business community can actually track and create high-paying jobs, which will allow our teachers, service workers and other employees to afford to live here,” he said.
Another topic of concern for St. Johns County residents – especially in the wake of Hurricane Irma – has been the preservation of environmental resources. Williams said he would be committed to furthering that goal.
“As we grow our economy, we have to find that balance to make sure we’re protecting our environment,” he said. “This is one of the qualities of life to people who live here. Our waterways, our wetlands, the ocean, the beaches, the Intracoastal—we have to make sure that we’re taking care of those for future generations.”
According to Williams, the commitment that comes with the position of county commissioner amounts to that of a full-time job. Selecting a candidate who is alternatively employed, he contended, would create a conflict in which the taxpayers, ultimately, would lose.
“If you’re going to be involved in all of the issues with staff, administration, the county attorney, our stakeholders – who are the citizens, taxpayers, residents, businesses – you need to be here, and you need to be here every day,” Williams said. “I can do that as a retired person. I think it’s important to work for you full-time.”
Current District 4 Commissioner Jay Morris, who has decided not to seek reelection, agreed.
“In my opinion, you cannot have a full-time job and be a county commissioner,” Morris said. “The only reason I ran is because I was retired. Dick is retired.”
According to Morris, that fact is just one of several reasons he has chosen to support Williams in the 2018 election, the others being Williams’ business experience, financial background and overall knowledge of the county.
Others who turned out to support Williams included St. Johns County District 4 School Board Representative Kelly Barrera and St. Johns County Undersheriff Matthew Cline, who was there representing Sheriff David Shoar.
“I’m a lawyer by trade,” Cline said. “One of the standing jokes about lawyers is you hate us until you need us, and when you need us, you want the best and the brightest that money can buy. I think it would probably be fair to say that county commissioners fall in that same category. And county commissioner is a very thankless job … So I applaud the men like Jay Morris and Dick Williams that are willing to make the sacrifice that they’re going to make.”