Luzerne County Councilman Rick Williams formally announced his candidacy for another term to an audience of about 30 supporters on the steps of the county courthouse Tuesday afternoon.
Williams, 64, of Kingston, had to join the race after the May primary because he is a registered Independent.
An architect for more than 30 years, Williams has a master’s degree in business, a bachelor’s degree in civil engineering and a master’s of architecture.
Williams said his first 20 months in office under the new home rule government have been “tough work” because the county has financial struggles and hundreds of millions of dollars in outstanding debt.
“We’re working hard to put in place systems and procedures so the staff has tools to provide the excellent services that citizens deserve and for which taxpayers are paying,” said Williams, who was accompanied by his wife, Linda, and one of his two children, Lily.
As part of efforts to increase transparency and openness, council has implemented a public application process to attract more citizens to serve on county boards and authorities, he said.
Williams said he wants another term to focus more on long-term “quality-of-life” issues, including transportation enhancements and improvements that will “connect our communities,” such as bike lanes, sidewalks and trail systems.
He promised to push for more regionalization among counties in Northeastern Pennsylvania and the 76 municipalities in Luzerne County.
“It’s tough work, but it needs to be done, and we need to start now,” Williams said.
Williams said in his media announcement he has provided an “independent, positive voice in county council deliberations.” He said he is “beholden to no political party” and is not loyal to any majority or minority.
Williams also said he:
• Voted against a 2012 budget that relied on bond money to cover operating expenses and voted for a balanced 2013 budget that did not raise taxes.
• Supported a new financial software system for “better monitoring and reporting” and pushed for the upcoming online posting of all emails exchanged between council members.
• Sought merit selection in the hiring and promoting of employees and more uniform benefits and standards among the workforce.
He said he understands the county and its residents through decades of volunteer service and leadership in community organizations. His campaign website: www.RickWilliamsCountyCouncil.com.
Eleven candidates are vying for five seats. The other contenders: Republicans Paul DeFabo, Kathy Dobash, Sue Rossi, Harry Haas and Eugene Kelleher, and Democrats Renee Ciaruffoli-Taffera, Michael Giamber, Richard “Kick” Heffron, Linda McClosky Houck and Eileen Sorokas.