A retired Department of Veterans Affairs employee is the first to announce his candidacy for the District 2 Augusta Commission post.
Dennis Williams, 61, announced Wednesday that he will run next year for the seat held by Mayor Pro Tem Corey Johnson, who is term-limited and running for state Senate.
Williams, who retired from a career in health textile care management for the VA, was born and raised in Chicago and stationed in Fort Gordon in 1979. He began his VA career in Augusta, but the job would take him to assignments in Brooklyn, N.Y.; Tuscaloosa, Ala.; and Milwaukee, Wis., for years before he retired to Augusta, he said.
He said his experiences help him “bring an open mind in dealing and getting along with people, and trying to see and understand what others see.”
“Sometimes we think ours is the only way,” he said. “I’ve had to deal with a variety of people from a variety of different backgrounds in the work that I’ve done.”
Williams graduated from Leadership Augusta and ran for elected office once before, unsuccessfully challenging Margaret Armstrong for a seat on the pre-consolidation Augusta City Council, he said.
Williams said he didn’t have any specific goals for the commission yet but wants to see the city grow.
“I just want to be a benefit to our community and help Augusta to become the city that it should be,” he said. “We’re the second-largest city in Georgia, and you wonder why people are still hanging on to this small-town mentality.”
Williams said his concerns for south Augusta included the preparations for relocating residents from the Cherry Tree Crossing public housing project and the lack of public transportation available to those residents and others expected to be moving further south.
He also has concerns about the area’s shortage of restaurants and retail stores.
“Our government has to show or project the image that they’re concerned about the people in south Augusta,” he said. “We have money to remodel a building, but we don’t have money to improve the life of the citizens who reside in our community.”
Regardless, Williams said he was pleased with his decision to call Augusta home. He’s attended Tabernacle Baptist Church since the early 1980s, “the cost of living is great,” and the weather is far better than chilly Chicago, he said.