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Pennsylvania State Senator Anthony Hardy WilliamsAnthony Hardy Williams never dreamed he’d hold elective office growing up. After majoring in economics at Franklin & Marshall College, he planned to use his academic experience to take over the business world. Hone his skills at a Fortune 500 company, then, strike out on his own. He followed his plan, working as a corporate analyst, next as an executive for PepsiCo, and then launched his own vending company. Then his world exploded – literally. That’s when he watched part of his childhood neighborhood engulfed in flames during the 1985 MOVE standoff in Philadelphia. He saw hopelessness creeping into formerly vibrant communities. He watched companies closing and jobs leaving, not just in his corner of the world, but all across Pennsylvania. Fear rose. Opportunities waned. Something needed to be done. Someone had to address the issues hanging over kitchen tables and the boardroom tables alike. Someone had to have better ideas. At 31, he decided to try and tackle that challenge.
In joining the Pennsylvania Legislature – first as state representative for the 191st District in 1988, then as state senator of the 8th District in 1998 – he resolved to make the needs of his constituents known, and has, with solid results.
- He served as an original architect of Pennsylvania’s landmark charter school legislation, ushering in an era of expanded options for families.
- Ensured that retired public school teachers could return to the classroom in cases of teaching shortages without sacrificing their pensions.
- Pushed to expand school choice and corporate citizenship through Education Improvement Tax Credit and the Opportunity Scholarship Tax Credit programs·
- Helped steer funding to prevent school closures within the Philadelphia Archdioceses·
- He’s still crafting meaningful legislation, such as the Holocaust and Genocide Studies bill, which would ensure Pennsylvania’s public high schoolers learn about the historical and contemporary consequences of unfettered bigotry and discrimination.
In public safety
- He created the Philadelphia Illegal Gun Task Force, an invaluable law enforcement tool for curbing violence·
- Authored legislation to protect communities from irresponsible liquor license holders·
- Today he’s working to prevent school employees with a history of sexual misconduct from bouncing from school to school, able to prey on innocent children·
- He continues to push for sensible gun safety measures, such as creating a firearm registration database for law enforcement
In economic opportunity
- He developed the Diversity Apprenticeship Program, negotiating to put access to a career in the labor trades within reach for thousands of young men and women·
- Provided a means for Philadelphia to reform its errant property tax system without harming seniors or unfairly squeezing working class families·
- Now he’s seeking to overhaul Pennsylvania’s unfair tax system and replace it with a Commercial Activity Tax, a streamlined method that would attract and retain local firms by reducing the tax burden on state-based businesses.·
- As always, he champions real-world solutions for households, such as introducing a bill that offers tax credits to Pennsylvania businesses that hire returning veterans, whose unemployment rates often are in the double-digits
He sticks to a simple dictate: find the best ideas and implement them – regardless if they originate with a fellow Democrat, a Republican or an Independent. It’s a commonsense, yet fearless approach to leadership that resists blind party allegiance or indebtedness to its patrons.It’s how he operates in the Pennsylvania State Senate, where he serves as Democratic Whip, State Government (Chair) and a member of the Education, Communications and Technology, Law and Justice, Rules and Executive Nominations, Policy and Veterans Affairs and Emergency Preparedness committees. His sense of advocacy compelled him to join the Pennsylvania Council on the Arts, along with a number of community boards.As senator for the 8th District, one of the state’s most populous, he connects with and offers solutions for citizens in small towns, suburban enclaves and urban centers, serving people of all economic, ethnic, religious, and cultural backgrounds with sensibility and compassion. That stems from the moral courage instilled in him by his father, the late Hardy Williams, the pioneering activist and former state senator, and his mother, Carole Williams-Green, a feisty and committed retired public school educator. And it’s replenished by the inspiration he finds in his wife, Shari, and their two daughters, Asia and Autumn.