Williams files to run against Gabrielson

Published 10:13 am Monday, June 6, 2016

James Williams is unhappy with the direction of the county board and he wants to make a change. The 33-year-old recently filed to run for District 1 Mower County commissioner against incumbent Tim Gabrielson.



“You can only complain about stuff for so long,” he said. “You need to be willing to make the sacrifice yourself.”

Williams previously ran in 2012 because he wanted to voice his concerns and start a dialogue on topics he didn’t think were thoroughly discussed. Four years have passed since then and Williams doesn’t believe the county has improved, which is why he is running again.

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“Not a whole lot has gotten better,” he said. “I feel the obligation to throw my hat in the ring again.”

One of the issues Williams is concerned with is the tax abatement proposal in Austin and the county board’s involvement in the project. The city is calling on Austin Public Schools and the county to follow its lead in giving five tax-free years to newly built properties as a way to spur construction.

Proponents argue it will help boost housing growth and the public entities will benefit once those properties enter the tax rolls after five years.

But Williams and his sister bought a foreclosed house in Austin which they have been fixing up over the last few years. He believes the proposal puts his property at a disadvantage in comparison to new properties that would be built.

“This tax abatement plan will punish us,” Williams said.

Williams also believes roads and bridges in rural Mower County need repair. Williams said he would potentially support the half-cent sales tax if necessary, which would allow the board to enact for specific road projects and would slim the county’s annual funding shortfall from $6.5 million a year to $5 million a year.

“There are some roads that are in extreme need for repair,” he said.

In his free time, Williams likes to spend time on his family farm and working on prairie restorations. He is self-employed and lives in rural Brownsdale.