Although she says she respects Senator Joyner, Williams says the time is now ripe for a "more fierce leader in the black community." Speaking with CL, Williams criticized other black elected officials in Tampa, such as House Representative Betty Reed and newly elected County Commissioner Les Miller and City Councilman Frank Reddick as not being representative enough of the black community.
Although she initially criticized Joyner for her lack of productivity in the Senate (where she has served since 2006, and served six years before that in the House), Williams backed off somewhat when reminded of the huge minority status that Democrats have in that branch of Florida government (there are only 12 Democratic Senators in the 40 member chamber).
Williams said she has spoken with numerous citizens in District 18 who have no idea that Joyner represents them in the Florida Senate, and says that Joyner is out of touch with small business owners, in particular. She's also angry about how stimulus money and specifically Neighborhood Stabilization funds were distributed, though that was directed by county and city staff - not from the state legislature.
Criticism that Joyner doesn't stay in close enough contact with her constituents is not a new charge. Last summer, CL reported on one St. Pete Democratic activist who contemplated running against Joyner in the 2010 Democratic primary because of his claim that she ignored her constituents.
Williams will make an official announcement about her candidacy Friday night at the Cotton Club in West Tampa.
Senator Joyner has not returned our phone call as of this posting. If and when she does we will update this post.
Senate District 18 encompasses much of Tampa and East and Southeast Hillsborough County, parts of South St. Petersburg and Gulfport, and parts of Manatee County. Its boundaries could change during re-districting next year.