“Why not let citizens have a say on issues? Why not a referendum? If it’s the will of the people, then whatever they decide is OK.”
Mayoral candidate Mike Williams uttered those feelings several times concerning issues in his talk to the Midtown Republican Club Tuesday night.
He felt strongly that the people should have a voice in issues. This came out in particular to the issue of MLGW and smart meters. “We own MLGW. How come we don’t have a voice?” he asked.
Smart meters have been on the back burner for a while, but last week saw the MLGW board approve $240 million for them. The City Council has already given them at least $60 million for them. Williams does not think this money should be given without citizen approval. “The cost is more because they’ll have to be replaced more frequently. Our current analog system is cheaper and not as easy to hack. A few months ago grids were shut down due to cyber attacks. I also think there is a problem with the chips that allow access into your home. MLGW is trying to usher it through.”
Earlier Williams had admitted his disappointment with the city when he returned from the army. “We have one of the worst transportation systems. I used to be able to ride on the bus. I’d be afraid to ride now. We have to get back to core services and infrastructure.
“We have to address the education system, too,” Williams believes. “When I didn’t have anything, at least I had a dream. As children we had instilled in us that knowledge is the key to success.” He doesn’t see schools today providing the motivation for excelling.
“We have a gang problem. If we don’t engage the young people, the Crips and the Bloods will. Our police keep picking up the same kids. There are no repercussions for them. Police have to go through an 18 point checklist to take them to juvenile court. We need alternative programs and parental counseling.”
Another suggestion he has are boot camps. “A lot of cities have them. Kids spend six to eight weeks outside the city limits so they can’t walk back home. Their parents can’t sign them out. Like the military, the kids have to get up at 4 a.m., take classes on productive citizenship and entrepreneurship.
“I picked cotton as a boy and worked since I was 10 at a sundry. Kids knew that they didn’t have anything, but they could work for it.”
Williams believes also that detention centers and safety zones are a good idea. He thinks that we need to upgrade our community centers to give kids an outlet to draw them away from the streets. He likes the Kroc Center, but asks “How come we don’t have one in Whitehaven?”
“We’re going to have to invest in this city now or later. I’m not for giving handouts, but if you do not identify the next generation of leaders, then you have failed.”
He was asked about the situation in Baltimore. Williams said that locking someone up in a paddy wagon who asked for medical help was wrong and wouldn’t be handled that way in Memphis. He decried the violence and looting, believing that is never the answer for perceived wrongs.
It comes back to his earlier idea that citizens should have a say in their government. He does not believe you can govern without it. “Citizens are more likely to help and initiate progress if they are engaged.”
Williams faces a big field of candidates in the October 8 election. He says he will soon take leave of absence from his job with the police to concentrate on his campaign. More information can be found on facebook at MikeforMemphis2015.com.