INDIANAPOLIS (Jan. 19, 2015) - Deputy Mayor Olgen Williams took a stroll through a Haughville neighborhood on a holiday set aside to honor a great American civil rights leader and talked about his dreams to lead one of America's largest cities.
"I started going to church in Haughville in 1972 and I bought two houses in Haughville and raised all my children in Haughville," he said. "They went to Ben Davis and IPS."
Williams is the father of ten children.
"You know, I'm not the smartest guy in the room but I know I try to be the most committed to serving, giving people back, people have been so good to me."
The love of of westsiders for the man who has lived among their midst for decades after doing a tour in Vietnam and serving a stint in a federal prison is evident for, "The Mayor of Haughville."
"I'm still trying to make up ground I guess for mistakes I made when I was 23 to give back in a way and then teaching my children and grand children and great grand children to do it," said Williams who was sentenced to federal prison for committing a petty theft while he was a U.S. Postal employee. "It don't matter about where you live and the house you live in and the car that you drive. It's about the service you give."
Williams said he was, "stuck on stupid," after coming home from the war and moved to Indianapolis to remake a life that began with picking cotton while growing up in Tennessee.
"I don't consider myself the smartest person in the room, but one thing I will tell you, no one will love this city as much as I love this city and see people want to have a good quality of life."
Williams was the former director of Christamore House when he was tapped by newly-elected Mayor Greg Ballard in 2008 to serve as his deputy mayor in charge of neighborhoods.
With Ballard's announcement that he would not be seeking a third term, Williams decided it was time to take a run at the corner office on the 25th floor of the City County Building.
"I believe in working with every neighborhood," he said. "I believe that we can go from Haughville to Martindale/Brightwood to Mars Hill to Frog Bottom and all the way to the eastside and listen to everyone all the way up to northside Williams Creek. Just listen to everybody's concerns because basically we all want the same thing: a good quality of life, safety, education for our children, be able to sit on our front porch, drink lemonade, not having to worry about being hit in the head."
Williams partner in front porch security has been the Reverend Charles Harrison of the Ten Point Coalition who said he won't actively campaign for mayor as long as Williams is still in the race.
"I said to him I certainly would not run against him if he entered into the race. I'm a man of principle and I'm going to keep my word," said Harrison, pastor at Barnes United Methodist Church. "If he survives the May primary then I would certainly be supportive of Olgen Williams for mayor."
Williams and any other announced republican candidate faces a five p.m. Wednesday deadline to file for the Marion County GOP Slating Convention which will be held January 30th.
Republican Chairman Kyle Walker welcomed Williams' entry into the race while expressing surprise that the deputy mayor declared himself a republican despite service in the Ballard administration over the last seven years.
Another candidate, Chuck Brewer, announced his campaign Monday evening.
Mayor Ballard has expressed no preference for a candidate to follow in his footsteps and Williams said the mayor was non-committal when he informed him of his intentions.
Williams chuckled as he acknowledged that the $20 bill in his pocket might represent his entire campaign warchest at this point.
"I've got to buy lunch with that," he said. "I've been an underdog a long time so it's not unusual."