Monterey City Councilman Tyller Williamson to run for mayor

MONTEREY — After nearly four years serving Monterey as a City Council member, Tyller Williamson is looking to shake up the city’s lineup of elected officials — with a run for mayor.

Earlier this month, Williamson, the Monterey City Council’s youngest member at 34 years old, filed papers with the city announcing his intent to take on the council’s top seat. Already crafting a game plan should he take over office, Williamson is eyeing lofty goals for the city, hoping to usher Monterey into a new era.

“I want to create this opportunity for change looking forward to the future,” he explained. “There’s a huge population in the city of Monterey amongst younger generations. They have so much energy and potential, but they aren’t engaging in local government in the way that they should be. I think a big part of that is representation.”

For the past seven years, Monterey has operated with retired teacher Clyde Roberson at the helm. Working for the city long before his most recent stint as mayor, Roberson, 76, previously served two consecutive mayoral terms from 1983 to 1987 and was on the Monterey City Council from 1981 to 1990 and 1996 to 2006. Two years ago, Roberson retained his title as mayor for the sixth time following a two-person race against former City CouncilmanTimothy Barrett. When asked if he would try for a seventh term this year, Roberson did not say.

“Sometime closer to the election, I will make an announcement with a new release,” he wrote in an email Monday.

Speaking about elections more generally, Roberson added that “elections for president on down are perpetual, non-stop. … There is too much partisanship, even in non-partisan elections like cities, school boards and counties.”

Williamson assured he has “no intention of blowing things up,” but rather hopes to build on the foundation already built for the city.

“I want my campaign messaging to recognize all the work that my predecessors did to make (Monterey) such a wonderful place to live,” said Williamson. “I’m thankful for the mayor and everything that he has done. But I also think there is a need to truly recognize where we are and make sure the community is with us.”

Community and civic engagement will be key tenets of Williamson’s mayoral campaign, he said, noting that “young people want to see people that look like them and issues important to them engaged in the political process.” When elected to the City Council in 2018, Williamson became Monterey’s first Black and openly gay council member.

Another issue bound to define Williamson’s campaign is housing, where he plans to focus on not only expanding supply but also directing policy to address diverse demands across the Monterey Peninsula.

Finally, Williamson added revising the way Monterey approaches its budget to his to-do list if elected mayor. Using the city’s ongoing effort to approve an operating budget for the 2022-23 fiscal year — which the City Council is set to adopt at a special meeting Wednesday night — Williamson said he’d like to see more effort go toward bulking up reserved funds for infrastructure within Monterey, such as the Monterey Sports Center and Monterey Public Library.

“Before this year, the city didn’t have any funding set aside for future infrastructure or maintenance of these facilities, which is multi-million dollars in infrastructure,” he explained. “(That’s) kicking the can down the road, putting the burden on future generations to pay for infrastructure needs that happened in the past.”

Meanwhile, in shifting his aspirations to mayor, Williamson is also forgoing his chances for reelection on the City Council. With Monterey transitioning from at-large to district-based elections this fall, Williamson’s seat is one of two districts up for election in November. But to Williamson, the time to run for mayor is now.

“I’m anxious to get out there and have conversations with the community,” he said. “It’s an exciting time where I can check in with the community and hear directly from them about how I’ve been doing. … The future, more than ever, is unknown and uncertain, and we need leadership on the council to be engaged and proactive in our approach so we can stay at the forefront and maintain those gains that my predecessors have provided.”

Contributed by local news sources

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