Published October 10, 2010
If a firm offer is made — at this time it appears one is forthcoming — by the Obama administration to Youngstown Mayor Jay Williams to serve as U.S. auto czar, the city will lose its chief executive. It’s very difficult for a mayor of a medium-sized community to say no to the president of the United States.
A week ago, this writer revealed that Williams had been approached about the filling the position of director of recovery for auto communities and workers. The job was created by President Barack Obama, who appointed Ed Montgomery in March 2009 to guide the recovery of the auto industry. Montgomery has left to become dean of public policy at Georgetown University.
The mayor met with administration officials on Thursday in Washington.
Auto czar is a high profile position designed to ensure that displaced employees and struggling communities have access to federal stimulus money and assistance for job re-training and other such initiatives. As was noted in last week’s Stir Fry blog, Williams would be in a position to advocate for the Mahoning Valley and to ensure that the General Motors Corp.’s Lordstown assembly plant is on the White House’s radar.
In the past week, this writer got reaction from readers that were positive and negative. But one question that was asked most often was this: What will happen to the initiatives Williams has launched to deal with the crime and neighborhood deterioration problems and to job-creation programs? The quick answer: They will continue because he will be succeeded by council President Charles Sammarone, who has been around city government for many years.
A presidential appointment is a big deal — for Williams and for the Mahoning Valley. If an offer is made, he will accept because the positives outweigh the negatives.