A challenger for the Missouri Senate District 14 kicked off his campaign Friday at an event in University City.
Brian Williams, a former staffer of U.S. Rep. William Lacy Clay, filed earlier this week to run for the Senate seat with a campaign focused on education, accountability and attracting and retaining local talent to the district.
During the kick off event, Williams told a story about a young man that he met and how it inspired him to run for office and help him do more in the community.
“I went to a school and a third grader ran up to me and gave me a huge hug and I wasn’t sure why he was so excited. It turns out that he was excited because every time he saw an African American male in a suit he assumed it was church or a funeral. He thought I lost somebody,” Williams said. “Right there, that’s when I decided I needed to do more and service and things that I’ve done before just weren’t enough and we need to start moving forward to inspire a younger generation.”
He said he wants to encourage corporations to start investing in students while in middle school because high school is far too late in his opinion.
“Students are exposed to different job opportunities in this capacity prior to college or prior to training school,” he said. “This gives them an opportunity to able to figure out what they want to do before it’s too late.”
Williams grew up in a union family in North St. Louis County that influenced his daily life, stating it instilled the importance of hard work and investing in the community. He said this spurred his dedication to public service and community leadership and his decision to run for the Senate seat.
Williams graduated from Hazelwood Central High School, then attained an undergraduate degree in Criminal Justice, and earned Master’s degrees in Public Administration and Legal Studies.
Through his position as a board director for People’s Health Center, he helped develop a quality healthcare center at a Schnucks location in Ferguson. Williams also oversaw the rollout of the Affordable Care Act (ACA) Marketplace in Missouri as a congressional ACA coordinator.
Currently, Senate District 14 is held by Sen. Maria Chappelle-Nadal, D-University City, who will be losing her position in 2019 due to term limits.
The Senate District that is being sought stretches from Clayton to the Missouri River, including cities such as Bridgeton, Earth City, Berkeley, and Ferguson.
The district will be heavily contested Democratic primary for Williams with Rep. Joe Adams, D-University City, and former Rep. Sharon Pace of Northwoods also vying for the position. Whoever wins the primary is luckily assumed to win the position with the district being heavily Democratic.
During his closing remarks, Williams said he would bring accountability in government and bringing in a fresh perspective could deliever that to Jefferson City.
“Residents in the 14th District can no longer wait for adequate representation. As a community we have to be accountable for our actions, decisions and people as well,” he said. “We have to demand leaders to be accountable for their actions and decisions even when folks aren’t looking. There has to be inclusive approach to governance and a leader who that could do heavy lifting in Jefferson City. That’s a pledge that I’m making right now.”