HONESDALE, PA — Running for mayor can be challenging and fast-paced. You have to meet the deadline for getting your name on the ballot and campaigning. There are the debates, the public …
HONESDALE, PA — Running for mayor can be challenging and fast-paced. You have to meet the deadline for getting your name on the ballot and campaigning. There are the debates, the public appearances and all the other sorts of politicking. According to Derek F. Williams, slow and steady might have the potential to win Honesdale’s mayoral race.
“I think it boils down to a slower pace,” said Williams, about the significance of his ‘Walking for Mayor’ campaign. (He also writes a Honesdale news column for the River Reporter). “The ‘running’ trope of traditional campaigns just didn’t resonate with me, because I thought it was too fast to talk to people and rooted too much in the idea of a competitive race. I’d rather just listen and get stories and help on a more neighborly basis.”
Williams has lived and worked in Honesdale all his life. One of his first jobs was selling soda at the Wayne County Fair.
Community engagement and maintaining a creative output have an important part in his life. He’s created a variety of maps for the Honesdale area, worked in community planning and served as a grant writer for a few borough projects.
Williams has been able to mesh community planning and creativity with Canaltown, where he serves as project lead. It was during his time spent with the Canaltown initiative that Williams considered throwing his hat into the ring of local politics.
“I had a recent burst of inspiration last year because I wasn’t able to do the movie festivals that I usually do... Bringing people together just wasn’t an option, so I redirected my efforts into creating citizen planning reports. I did a lot of digging into zoning ordinances,” he said.
Often, local politics may seem inaccessible. The public is often unaware of its inner machinations and those in power often seem unapproachable. Williams wants to change that.
A big part of his platform centers around transparency on the local government level.
“I see the mayor being a role that exists on the ‘backyard’ level, where I can talk to people and then at the council chambers level that can talk to the council. That in-between role would be a great way to get people involved local government,” said Williams.
True to the walking motif, Williams also envisions a more “pedestrian-friendly” Honesdale. He hopes to achieve this by utilizing his background in community planning and throwing his support behind the many projects like WPTWA’s trails project and the Greater Honesdale Partnership Downtown Revitalization Project.
Slowing down traffic is another part of his plan to make the town more walkable.
“Current main road designs here favor cars over people and this implies Honesdale is a place to pass through. That implication makes cars drive fast. This kind of driving makes it less comfortable to cross the street, which makes being here while walking, biking or wheeling around less comfortable too.”
Williams’ next steps in his walk for mayor will be “the classics,” as he called it. That involves making signs, shirts and anything else that will get the word out.
The municipal election for the Borough of Honesdale is set for November 2.
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