Williams was born and raised in Palmer, the son of a sawmill operator. He earned his degree in petroleum engineering and worked as a roustabout. But the oil industry was not hiring at the time, he began teaching and served in the Peace Corps in Gambia for two years . He later taught in New York City and Nome and was Alaska’s 2009 teacher of the year. Williams says he’s disappointed that the state’s budget hasn’t prioritized education.
“It’s almost like we have two different books. If we’re talking about a mega project it seems like the sky’s the limit and we have all kinds of plans to spend billions and billions of dollars. But once we start talking about public education…there was an education task force trying to say public education was not sustainable. That’s absolutely crazy. We don’t have a single challenge we face where public education isn’t part of the solution. And we’ve got to fund it,” said Williams.
Alaska’s Lieutenant governor is in charge of the Division of Elections. Williams says he sees a gap between voting rights in rural and urban areas. He wants to see more access in rural Alaska to things like early voting.
“You look at it like baseball, I have 6 or 7 swings at the bat to go and cast my vote. But if you look at rural areas, there is a lot of challenges to swing that bat once. Where they don’t have early voting or sometimes the polling place will change and it’s really inconvenient. To make sure everyone is connected and part of government and feels a part of it, we need to make sure there is more access to early voting and we do everything we can to empower voting,” said Williams.
Williams is still teaching full time. He works evenings and weekends to raise money and travel the state. He says he will represent all Alaskans.
“I can’t tell you how many people I talk to who do not feel connected to their state government, do not feel it represents them, and always feels like something from outside that does not respect them. All I can say is I’ve spent my life as a teacher and as a citizen working to build respect and a sense of community in my classroom, with parents, and with the community in general, and I’m also going to continue to do that as Lt. Governor,” said Williams.
Anchorage State Senator Hollis French is also seeking the Democratic nomination. Republicans Dan Sullivan and Lesil McGuire and independent Candidate Craig Fleener are also campaigning.