There’s a picture of Parris Williams shaking hands with President George H.W. Bush on his living room wall. He’s very proud of it as it reminds him of the time he ran for the South Carolina State Senate for District 44 in 1984.
“I was interested in bringing the community together and preserving our heritage,” said Williams, smiling.
Parris Williams, a fifth-generation James Islander and Reverend at the First Baptist Church of James Island, lives in a house he built with his own hands at the age of twenty-three on a road that shares his name and the name of his grandfather. Now 67 years old, Williams has dedicated his life to helping his community and preserving the heritage of James Island and the Gullah/Geechee Corridor. He was there for the first incorporation of James Island as a town and now serves on the James Island Council. However, with County Councilman Curtis Inabinett’s announcement that he will not run for his seat as representative for Charleston County District 8, Parris Williams has thrown his hat into the ring and will run for Inabinett’s seat in Charleston County’s November elections.
District 8 covers most of Johns Island, part of James Island, Edisto, Ravenel, Hollywood and part of rural West Ashley. As its representative, Williams feels that he would listen to the district’s residents and do what the majority needs, starting with infrastructure.
While serving on the James Island Council, Williams served on the town’s Public Works Committee –a position which allowed him to work closely with RoadWise and the SC Department of Transportation. While on the Public Works Committee, Williams saw to the paving of six dirt roads on the island, the building of a sidewalk from Folly Road to James Island Elementary, the launching of the road project at Camp Road and Folly Road, and the pending installation of a traffic light at Camp Road and Dills Bluff Road.
“My mission is to come off of the mountain and move into the valley,” said Williams. “I need to bring hope, especially the African American male. They can see that if I can do it, they can do better.”
While Williams hopes to help install drainage where necessary throughout District 8, he also hopes to work with the area’s infrastructure; fixing roads while also helping to preserve the area’s rural nature – especially Johns Island. “We don’t want to lose our farmland and green space,” Williams asserted.
Above all, though, Parris Williams wants to listen to the people. “It’s hard to represent different people in different areas,” said Williams, “but I want to listen to them and do what’s best for the most people.”