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New deputy mayor says Ballard’s OK

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In a move that has generated bipartisan praise Greg Ballard, the new mayor of Indianapolis has appointed community activist Olgen Williams as the city’s deputy mayor.

The appointment was received well by Ballard supporters and could help alleviate the concerns of those who already have questions about his ability to serve in office due to lack of political experience.

“I’m truly honored and humbled that he chose me,” Williams said. “I look to being a part of his team and helping to move our city forward.”

Williams is already well known in the community for his work as director of the Christamore House, a service center in the Haughville neighborhood of the city’s Westside that provides mentoring programs for troubled youth, sponsors anti-violence events and helps families in need become self-sufficient.

A Vietnam veteran who served time in prison before turning his life around, Williams has been praised for being dedicated to helping individuals avoid the same mistakes he made.

“Olgen is a tremendous individual who has overcome adversity and dedicated his life to serving others,” Ballard said. “He is a leader who truly understands the needs of our struggling neighborhoods.”

While he’s looking forward to his new position, Williams’ emotions are mixed because he is resigning as the center’s director and leaving his other post on the Indianapolis Public Schools board.

Williams, who considers himself a political non-partisan, said he voted for Ballard but did not campaign for him publicly. He added that Ballard’s appointments represent his commitment to avoiding “country club politics” and selecting qualified individuals, not merely people connected to his political party or campaign.

“He didn’t owe anyone coming in, so I don’t think he promised a ‘political job’ to anyone,” said Williams.

Williams was asked if he believes Ballard is ready to serve all the citizens of Indianapolis, even those who did not vote for him and are still suspicious of his agenda.

“What is there to be suspicious about?” Williams asked. “Personally I think he proves to be a man of integrity. He wanted a shot at helping to improve our city, he ran and many people felt they needed him at this time. I have confidence in him, otherwise I never would have left a job of 11 years that I love dearly.”

Williams added that he is looking forward to working with Ballard in addressing the issues the retired Marine raised during his campaign, including problems related to neighborhoods, abandoned houses, education, foreclosures, crime and ex-convicts trying to become productive citizens after leaving prison.

“We have a great city already but we also have some issues that must be addressed and Ballard has promised to address them,” Williams said. “We have young people struggling to graduate, people losing their homes and an unacceptable homicide rate. It’s easy to criticize, but ‘working together works.’ We must all work together to create solutions and progress.”

Rev. Ronald Covington, who lead’s Friendship Baptist Church on the Westside, believes Williams will do a good job.

“He’ll carry a lot of committment, effort and energy with him to city government,” Covington said.

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