Photo courtesy of Matthew Williams
Williams working on his mother’s campaign for NY-92 Assemblywoman
With local primaries (NY on June 23, NJ on July 7 and CT on Aug. 11) right around the corner, Tower spoke with Masters students and alumni who have been involved in various candidates' campaigns.
Matthew Williams is the campaign manager for the candidate who’s challenging nine-year member of the New York Assembly Tom Abinanti (Democrat) for the NY-92 district seat. That candidate happens to be his mother: Jennifer Williams (Democrat).
In a letter to the Yonkers Times published in mid-April, J. Williams cites three main reasons for running. She said, “First, because I do not feel that small business interests are adequately represented in Albany. Second, because Mr. Abinanti has dangerous and uninformed views about public health that have no business in our state legislature. Third, because I feel I can bring energy and openness to an institution not known for either.”
Williams and the fellow members of the campaign have been busy reaching out to local citizens and organizations for months; he helped organize a debate with between his mother and Abinanti which occurred on Thursday, June 18 and was co-sponsored by the local chapter of the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People (NAACP).
He acknowledged that Abinanti has an established base of voters in the district who oppose J. Williams’ challenge, but he believes the assemblyman’s pitfalls have fallen on deaf ears and that a change in office is necessary.
For example, M. Williams said, “He’s a big anti-vaxxer [opposes vaccinations], even though he says he’s not. He can’t glide unnoticed anymore.” Abinanti voted against legislation that ended religious exemption for required vaccines last year.
The mayor of Irvington has endorsed Abinanti and M. Williams said that Abinati has provoked the chair of the Irvington democratic party into threatening J. Williams.
Williams said, “It’s surprising to hear all this anger and bad behavior. I never thought I would hear a senior democratic official tell my mother, ‘You will never get a job again!’”
Abinati even tried to get J. Williams off the ballot. He objected to a petition J. Williams submitted in March which indicated she was running for “New York State Assembly, District-92.” The Westchester Board of Elections alleged the petition did not properly “demonstrate the office she was running for” and was “deceiving voters.” According to an article from Patch.com, the New York Supreme Court and Appellate Court both ruled in J. Williams’ favor. Abinanti then tried to bring the case to the New York Court of Appeals but was denied.
“My opponent has expended so much taxpayer money on this matter already,” J. Williams said in response to the verdict. “I just hope that he is finally ready to let the voters, not the courts, decide who is best suited to represent the Rivertowns in Albany as their Assemblywoman.”
Though J. Williams has never held office or had any job in politics, on her campaign website she references her experience working at her family’s women-owned energy-consultant business and initiative to found the “Women of the Congo Charity” as key indicators of her commitment to issues such sustainability and humanitarian aid.
Williams is proud of the work of his mother and the efforts of the campaign has made to overcome obstacles and give her a fighting chance.
He said, “Whether we get one vote or 10,000 votes it’s been such a learning experience. We took this from nothing to something. It’s been great to be a part of the team that has built this campaign.”