On WITN Channel 22 Issues, Mayor Williams spoke with John Rago about issue that affect the people who live in, work in and visit our wonderful city.
About Mayor Dennis P. Williams
Born in Wilmington on January 8, 1953, Dennis P. Williams was inaugurated on his 60th birthday as mayor of the city where he has spent his entire life.
Growing up on Wilmington's East Side, Mayor Williams attended Northeast Elementary School (now the East Side Charter School) and graduated in 1971 from Pierre S. du Pont High School. He looked up to his father, a post office manager who learned to speak French and Spanish fluently to better serve his customers. His teachers, especially Guy Molock and Karen Denton Johnson, served as mentors, as did Ernest Webster, a social worker at Kingswood Community Center who dedicated himself to keeping young men and women on the right path.
Mayor Williams remembers Wilmington neighborhoods filled with hard-working people striving to get ahead and dedicated to keeping their communities safe and friendly. Several of his relatives and many of his neighbors worked at the DuPont Co. pigment plant just over the city line in Edgemoor.
Mayor Williams was only in grade school when he settled on his first career. He would become a Wilmington police officer, dedicated to serving the city, and its residents, with honesty and integrity. He joined the city police force in 1976. He patrolled in Southbridge, on the Riverfront and in other communities before eventually becoming a detective in the homicide unit.
As a police officer, he developed a deep compassion for and sensitivity to the needs of crime victims, qualities that served him well as a member of the state's Violent Crimes Compensation Board from 1990 to 1995.
The mayor's interest in politics started early - when he used his wagon to deliver flyers and brochures for John F. Kennedy's presidential campaign in 1960 - but he had no aspirations for elective office until 1995, when Wilmington Democrats needed a candidate for a special election to succeed Orlando J. "Lonnie" George Jr., who had resigned his First Representative District seat in the state House of Representatives to become president of Delaware Technical Community College.
He won the special election by a nearly 2-to-1 margin, launching a 17-year career representing residents of north Wilmington in the General Assembly. He served on committees appropriate for a lawmaker with a police background - Corrections, Public Safety & Homeland Security, and Judiciary - but was best known as chairman of the House Appropriations Committee and the Joint Finance Committee, the committees responsible for formulating the state's annual budget.
One of Mayor Williams' greatest legislative achievements came in 2010, when the state faced a deficit of nearly $800 million. He led the Joint Finance Committee in writing and winning approval of a balanced budget that did not require any layoffs of state employees and enabled the state to preserve its AAA bond rating.
While serving in Dover, Mayor Williams developed a reputation as a consensus builder who recognized the importance of building strong teams and relying on them to do their jobs well.
He is bringing those values to the mayor's office, pledging an administration in which people will work together with a unity of purpose to restore pride in the city.
The values Mayor Williams developed in his youth are central to his approach to government, as he seeks to develop a culture of service in city government, a renewed pride in safe and peaceful neighborhoods with beautiful parks and clean streets, an inspired population of young people who cultivate their dreams and value achievement, and, most of all, a community where prosperity and genuine opportunities for a better future extend to all corners of the city.
Mayor Williams, who completed his studies in 1999 to earn an associate of arts degree in criminal justice from Delaware Technical Community College, is a member of Bethel AME Church and the Fraternal Order of Police. He and his wife, Shayne, have three daughters, two sons-in-law and four grandchildren.