The first time I spoke with Jeff Williams was during a “meet and greet,” certainly not an occasion that would earn a significant place in his personal annals. Mayors “meet and greet” almost as much as they cut ribbons. It goes with the elected official territory. As cool as it was to tell my family that I had met the most noteworthy politician in all of Arlingtonland, that’s not when I knew Jeff Williams is a good egg.
That revelation occurred during the second time we visited. I reached out my hand to re-introduce myself, but he beat me to the start of the conversation. “I really enjoy reading your column, Yale,” he said, grasping my palm firmly. “Your grandson sounds like a winner.” Here’s the deal: Generic mayors are expected to say the first part; generic mayors do just enough homework to know that the editor of the city magazine probably writes columns.
But it’s the genuinely decent mayor who actually reads them. I had, indeed, written about my grandson in a column that posted not long before the Mayor and I first met. The “before” part is the dead giveaway. Jeff very likely didn’t have the time – and I can’t think of anyone after first meeting me who would have the inclination – to go back and check out my work. He actually did read about my grandson. He shared as much during our second meeting, and I knew then that voters had made a good choice.
This month, voters get to make a new one. Williams’ tenure as the leader of our city is coming to an end, but it won’t take a historian to determine that his “era” was marked with resounding success.
As part of a project I recently concluded that focused on the prosperity that emerged in Arlington from May 2015 to May 2021, I got to chronicle the highlights. Here are just a few of them:
- The Texas Rangers got a new ballpark, thus averting a move to another burg.
- Texas Live! became a reality, and its anchor, Live! by Loews, was constructed before our very eyes.
- A nationwide search for the home of the vaunted National Medal of Honor Museum concluded shortly after the selection committee visited Arlington.
- Arlington became home to the WNBA’s Dallas Wings.
- The city received the official Music Friendly Community designation, which is good news for all the folks who are now coming to an excitingly refurbished Downtown Arlington on a regular basis and might want to catch a concert.
I think you get the gist: Jeff Williams has been great! for Arlington.
I’m proud! to say I know him.