Takoma Park mayor not to run

PHOTO: Takoma Park Mayor Bruce Williams, 2013.

BY BILL BROWN

Takoma Park’s mayor will not run for re-election this fall.

Mayor Bruce Williams announced his decision at the July 20 city council meeting. City elections will be Nov.3, 2015. Williams term will end November 16, when newly elected and reelected councilmembers take office.

Williams is in his fourth term as mayor, his eleventh on the council – a total of 22 years. He served as Ward 3 councilmember from 1993 to 2007 when he was elected mayor.

He was, he said, the first openly gay elected official in Maryland, DC and Virginia.

“When I started almost no one had email and there was only one cell phone at the polls on election day 1993 – and that was my cell phone.”

Bruce and Geoff’s 35 anniversary and wedding day.

Takoma Park mayor Bruce Williams and retired American University professor Geoffrey Burkhart at their May 4, 2013 wedding. Photo by Jay Keller

He reviewed his long city council legacy.

Among his accomplishments: unifying the city into one county in 1997, economic development in Old Town and New Hampshire Ave. and a more proactive, front-loaded budget process, he said.

Takoma Junction was William’s strong interest, he said, since before he ran for office. He pointed to improvements there over the decades, particularly the city’s purchase of the Junction parking lot and the lot’s upcoming development.

Mayor Bruce Williams, city councilmember Kate Stewart and Little Loft owner Lia Salza Goldstein prepare to cut the ribbon, assisted by Goldstein's son Desmond.

Mayor Bruce Williams and city councilmember Kate Stewart at the Little Loft ribbon-cutting in Takoma Old Town, June 10. Photo by Bill Brown.

He cited the city’s Arts and Humanities Commission and the Commemoration Commission, and his work as “ambassador for our city to many partners–private organizations and associations, non-profits, and all levels of government–local, state, national and international.”

He also cited his outreach to local institutions: the Washington Adventist Hospital, Montgomery College and local elementary schools.

Williams said he was proud of his work with local organizations to provide safe affordable housing.

He has been particularly active lobbying and engaging with state and county officials, the state legislature, and regional governments and groups. He served eight years on the Maryland Municipal League Legislative Committee, which he chaired for two years. He represented Takoma Park on the Metropolitan Washington Council of Governments Board of Directors longer than any currently serving member, he said. He served seven years on the Local Government Advisory Committee to the Chesapeake Bay Executive Council, and the last two years as a member of the MD Sustainable Growth Commission.

Williams

Mayor Bruce Williams makes his announcement at the July 20 city council meeting.

His big regret, he said, was lack of progress on county tax-duplication. “It’s been particularly galling to have worked on this issue since at least 1996, and to be no closer to a resolution now than when we started,” he said.

He told the council, to whom the announcement came as a surprise, that he’s enjoyed working with them and city staff and will miss the ‘wonderful relationships I have valued so much.”

“I’ve tried to show everyone a high level of respect in all of my dealings, “he said. “I’ve met with anyone wanting to meet, and I have responded courteously.”

Maryland Governor O'Malley presents Takoma Park mayor Bruce Williams with a proclamation in celebration of the city's remarkable reductions in crime over the past several years.

In 2011, then-Governor O’Malley (center, right) presents Takoma Park mayor Bruce Williams (center, left) with a proclamation in celebration of the city’s reductions in crime. They are flanked by then-state delegates Tom Hucker (now Montgomery county councilmember) and Heather Mizeur and city councilmembers Terry Seamens (far left), Josh Wright, and (far right) Colleen Clay.

He said ” I’ve tried to always be open to letting people bring forward their ideas, and I’ve tried to give them the space to massage those ideas into a form that works the best. I haven’t always started out with a well defined position on an issue, but I’ve always tried to listen to what others say so that I can learn from them. I’ve tried to recognize that it is always better to surround yourself with people who are smarter than you are, so that you can ALL shine.”

He said it is time for “a new generation of leadership, so I’d like to provide a path for that to happen.”

He said he would remain involved “on some issues that are important to me and to Takoma Park.”

About the Author

Bill Brown

Bill Brown moved to Takoma Park in 1982. He has been involved in journalism in one way or another since he co-published an underground high-school newspaper in the late 1960s.