After just five months as Arlington’s new mayor, Jeff Williams has impressed just about everyone with his style of leadership.
However, it’s the substance of his energy and commitment to exceed expectations that was on display at his recent State of the City address as he described early achievements and ambitious plans for the future.
He seems to be everywhere nearly every day.
It may be along the side of General Motors executives announcing the largest corporate investment in the city’s history — a $1.4 billion plant expansion and the addition of more than 500 new jobs.
Never miss a local story.
Or supporting the annual fundraising events of the city’s many nonprofit organizations addressing community needs otherwise going unmet.
Or you might find him reading to first graders in one of Arlington’s elementary schools.
He described his feelings when he first took office as being “incredibly optimistic about the opportunities that lay before us and about finding new ways to harness the energy of the people and institutions of the ‘American Dream City’ to build partnerships to advance that dream even further.”
Now that he has had the chance to “look under the hood,” he declares he is even more confident “about what is possible with a clear understanding of our challenges and our prospects for success.”
Then he backed up those ambitious goals with a review of current initiatives that not only describe what he promised while campaigning for the job but also illustrate the city’s commitment to its residents.
He joked about describing big plans for record amounts of street maintenance in terms usually found among civil engineers, like himself. Instead, he did so with words the audience eagerly applauded.
The priority given to road improvements and traffic management will result in $261 million invested over the next five years in addressing one of the city’s most critical and fundamental needs.
“Right now we have more roads under construction than in any other period of our history – but we aren’t done yet.”
Another area of focus that he had featured in his campaign was that of championing “great neighborhoods.” Speaking about his participation in National Night Out, he said he was inspired by “so many of our neighborhoods taking it upon themselves to make their community an inviting place to live.
“Arlington has within it a web of relationships between people of all races, ethnicities and religions. We will continue to work to build bridges and understanding.”
He then described new plans that are already under way in collaboration with the city’s Police Department, UT Arlington, other public and private education institutions and corporate sponsors.
Pointing out the new downtown library project and the adjacent private $50 million housing/office/retail project, he described quite a vision for the city’s core.
He spoke of enhancing the economic impact and elevation of the city’s national profile via the eight million visitors who annually come to see the Texas Rangers, the Dallas Cowboys, new attractions at Six Flags, Hurricane Harbor and events at the convention center.
“We’re the only place where those things happen and the potential for significant expansion of it all is truly unlimited.”
There was a lot more in his first annual report of how things are going. I’m out of space here, but the city’s website and social media have it all.
Maybe the best of what Mayor Williams described is the cooperation among his City Council colleagues and the city’s management team.
Realizing he’s the mayor and not the king, he knows coalitions with fellow elected leaders are essential to providing the quality of life residents want to achieve.
In the world of “what have you done for me lately,” Jeff Williams provided some very satisfying answers.
Richard Greene is a former Arlington mayor and served as an appointee of President George W. Bush as regional administrator for the Environmental Protection Agency.