Ex-Youngstown mayor Williams to face Senate panel Tuesday

By David Skolnick



Ohio’s two U.S. senators — Democrat Sherrod Brown and Republican Rob Portman — will introduce and speak on behalf of former Youngstown Mayor Jay Williams at his Tuesday confirmation hearing to head the federal Economic Development Administration.

The senators will make brief remarks in support of Williams, who is among four people seeking support from the Senate Committee on Environment and Public Works on Tuesday.

All four were nominated by President Barack Obama and need the confirmation of the Senate to be appointed to various posts in the administration.

They will answer questions asked by committee members.

The hearings are to begin at 2:30 p.m. with Williams scheduled to be the third person to be in front of the committee, though the order is subject to change, according to a Wednesday email from the committee.

The committee could recommend Williams be confirmed by the full Senate after Tuesday’s hearing.

If that occurs, the Senate could vote on Williams as early as next week or in January.

Obama nominated Williams to head the EDA on Sept. 10. The job’s official title is U.S. Department of Commerce’s assistant secretary of commerce for economic development, according to the committee’s email.

Also, the nomination process requires Williams to use his real name, Roy K.J. Williams. The K.J. is for Kojo Jawara. Williams is named after his paternal grandfather, though he’s been called Jay since he was a baby.

The EDA leads the federal economic-development agenda by promoting innovation and collaboration and helping communities build the foundation for long-term growth, according to the White House.

After 61/2 years as Youngstown mayor, Williams resigned Aug. 1, 2011, to be the executive director of the U.S. Department of Labor’s Office of Recovery for Auto Communities and Workers.

That position had him as the federal point man on helping communities and workers adversely impacted by the struggles of the domestic automotive industry.

On June 8, 2012, Williams was selected as deputy director of the Office of Intergovernmental Affairs, a job that had him work on behalf of the White House with elected officials from cities, towns and counties.

That appointment was for a year with Williams also handling the auto job responsibilities.

He continues to do that work while awaiting confirmation.

Others seeking the support of Environment and Public Works on Tuesday are Rhea Sun Suh as assistant secretary for fish and wildlife and parks at the Department of Interior, Victoria Baecher Wassmer as chief financial officer for the Environmental Protection Agency, and Thomas A. Burke as assistant administrator for research and development at the EPA.

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