Williams believes he can unite school board

James Williams Jr. says he has the leadership background and "spirit of unity" to be Richmond County's next District 5 school board member.

"I know how it works when it comes to operating budgets," said Mr. Williams, a founding board member of the Neighborhood Improvement Project, which operates a community health clinic in south Augusta.

Mr. Williams, 64, also works as a property manager in Augusta for Nashville, Tenn.-based Taliafaro Inc. and has served on other area community boards.

He said he thinks his way of approaching problems would work well in the board setting.

"I think it takes a spirit of unity in order to work with all board members," he said. "I have that ability to do that, to bring people together."

Mr. Williams, an Augusta native, has run for the school board twice before, unsuccessful bids against Joe Scott in 2008 and A.K. Hasan in 2006.

He said that after "a lot of thoughts and pondering" he decided to enter the political arena again and is gearing up his campaigning efforts.

"I'm still determined to represent the people in a fashion that will give them the kind of representation I felt they needed previously and even this time now that the seat is vacant," he said.

Mr. Williams said that in the midst of state budget cutbacks, he would work to seek other funding sources for the school system.

"I do believe that there are resources, there are ways we can make up those deficits, and I support just the efforts of finding those things," he said.

He said he's a big proponent of an initiative by Superintendent Dana Bedden to expand after-school and summer-school programs.

"That's the kind of effort I support, and he needs the support of the school board," Mr. Williams said. "It's going to take funding to operate that program."

Mr. Williams, an avid gardener, sees similarities between his hobby and the role of a school board member.

"I've always enjoyed watching things grow," he said. "It takes nurturing in order to have a successful plant, and I say the same thing about children."

Reach Preston Sparks at (706) 828-3851 or preston.sparks@augustachronicle.com

JAMES WILLIAMS JR.

AGE: 64

BACKGROUND: Property manager; adjunct instructor at Voorhees College; associate minister at Mount Calvary Baptist Church

LEADERSHIP EXPERIENCE: PTA president; chairman, Georgia Youth Advocate Program; board member, National Youth Advocate Program; secretary, Baptist Ministers Conference of Augusta; founding board member, Neighborhood Improvement Project; board member, Antioch Ministries and Neighborhood Improvement Inc.

PLATFORM: "If we invest in our children today, we get a greater return tomorrow;" using best resources; making decisions in the best interest of the system