House of Representatives candidate: Noel Williams Jr.
By Erica O’Neal
Q: Tell me about your background. Why do you want to run for House of Representatives?
“I’m 46 years old, I was born and raised here, went to school here. I went to University of Georgia and graduated in 1994. I came back and started the insurance business in August of ’94 and lived here for two years, then moved to Atlanta during the Olympics. My wife was working on finishing school and when she graduated we got married and lived in Atlanta from ’98 until 2002. We moved back to Cordele December 15, 2002, my son was 18 months old at the time. In my family, I’m the fifth or sixth generation. I have tow children, my son Trey, he’s Noel III, he’s 17. My daughter Elizabeth is 14. Of course my wife Laura is 45, she’s a pharmacist and she works part-time, so she’s with the kids.
I just want to expand on what Buddy Harden has done. I think I’ve got all of the tools. The business that I’m in, I’m dealing with people every day and health insurance is one of the biggest concerns people have. While I’m helping them with their health insurance, they talk about other issues. I’m in the customer service business, and that’s all you are as a representative. It’s not my interest; it’s the people’s interest. That’s what I’m representing, the people of this district. “
Q: What will your top priorities for helping to grow rural communities such as Cordele?
“Obviously we need jobs, jobs and more jobs. We need of course an educated work force. The House just recently did something with the Rural Development Council. It’s something where the governor appoints six members from the house, the senate appoints three members from the senate and then the Speaker of the House is on there. They pick rural legislators to work on rural ideas. How can we make rural Georgia better? How can we stimulate our hospitals? For instance, our hospital is one of the best hospitals for our size in the state. We’ve grown by being smart with our resources, coming up with tele-medicine. So if I were to have a stroke and I’m at Crisp Regional, they can use their tele-medicine that goes to Grady Hospital. So that saves us money, it creates jobs and it’s easier being here at home than going to Atlanta with a stroke and of course it’s better care. Just like we expanded the Oncology Center, where people having chemo can stay here at home for chemo instead of driving to Albany or driving to Macon. Chemo is bad enough, but at least if you can be home, that’s going to be much better. I think we need to get more money from Atlanta in these rural areas. We need somebody that’s aggressive that’s going to work with our legislators. We need more money down here to stimulate jobs. We need an educated workforce; we need to work with the schools. Not everybody is going to be a college student. We’re seeing a lot of tech jobs coming out in the workforce. Look what Perry has done, look what Tifton has done. They’re just exploding. Why can’t that be us 10 years from now? It can’t happen overnight I know that, but we’ve got to do something to help stimulate our economy. Our workforce right now I think we have 5% unemployment. A lot of people just aren’t out there looking for new jobs.
We need to work with agriculture. I know in Perry they got a program I was seeing that they’re working with high school students with their FFA program. They’re doing some stuff with livestock. I went to something a couple of weeks ago. They were showing how the students, that weren’t traditional farming students, were working with farm animals. I know it’s not stimulating the economy per say, but its part of education.
I think broadband. It’s not fair that some children don’t have access to broadband. Well that helps with jobs, that helps with the hospital, just like the tele-medicine, the tele-doc program. I mean broadband is part of the education process. If I can’t get on the Internet, that’s how businesses are conducted now. If I can’t get on there to check about my bank or see what’s going on online, with my insurance business now, everything is online now. If you don’t have that Internet capability, or that access, what do you have?
Our rural hospitals, our broadband, education. This is the first time in 17 years that the House appropriated the QBE, the Quality Basic Education for the state of Georgia. It gives more money to the schools to enhance their education.”
Q: How would you tackle the need to bring in and keep young professionals in rural communities?
“We need more jobs, we need more industry. Unless you’re going to be in your own business, if you’re going to be a doctor, lawyer or you’re in the insurance business like I am, or if you’re going to farm. We just have not had the expansions in jobs. We need to attract industry. How do you attract industry? You have to have great education, you have to have great healthcare, you have to have tax incentives. Where do you get that? You get that from the state to marry with the local government to help. I’ll be interested to see who is our next Governor and see what happens with all of that. The past administration, the Nathan Deal administration, they’ve grown over 600,000 jobs in Georgia. We need more of that in rural Georgia. We need somebody that’s going to help rural Georgia.
The key is education; you’ve got to have the steps in place. I want to be a proponent for broadband, and of course farmers, and agriculture, that is what we are in this community. We can expand on that.”