Marshall Williams Jr.: Beyond the Ballot – A Visionary’s Impact on Durham’s Future



By Hannah Adams

Published Dec. 12

Despite not securing victory in the Durham mayoral primary, 35-year-old IT sales leader Marshall Williams Jr. remains dedicated to addressing key issues and emphasizes his commitment to collaborative solutions. With a track record including captaining a football team, ranking top nationally in pharmaceutical sales, and pioneering technology startups, Williams is committed to making a lasting impact beyond his role, focusing on uplifting underserved communities and fostering an inclusive economy.

“Politics is something that found me,” said Williams. 

While it was never on his agenda, he doesn’t regret the process, even though he didn’t come out victorious. 

“I’m proud that I ran because most people thought that I came out of the blue,” said WIlliams. “Which is honestly a good thing because they wanted to know why.” 

Williams’ mayoral campaign resonated loudly, disrupting the conventional notions and expectations associated with political candidates, particularly by challenging the established norm of a younger individual seeking office. 

“It was just truly a mark of a leader to really humble myself because there was so much insinuation that I didn’t know anything,” said Williams. “And I would just prove them wrong.” 

In a political landscape where just 23.1% of voters between the ages of 18-29 participated in the 2022 midterm elections in North Carolina, Williams’ commitment to challenging misconceptions about youth engagement becomes even more crucial. Due to a lack of representation, many young people frequently feel unrepresented and continue to be disengaged from the political process.

“I represent a younger class,” said Williams. “While you guys may think I may be exceptional, there are many more like me. Give an eye to me, and we’ll be able to give an eye to everyone else.” 

 
Despite sparking conversations about youth in office and securing a notable fourth place in the election, Williams emphasizes that politics isn’t his ultimate goal. 

“I’m not really interested in running for public office again,” said Williams.  

His disinterest in a political future stems from the frequent frustrations he experienced with the political process and its accompanying challenges. 

“I was very disappointed about how honesty and authenticity get attacked in this arena,” said Williams. “I was getting attacked simply because people didn’t know me.” 

Adding to his frustration, Williams expressed dissatisfaction with journalism in Durham. 

“Durham will cover every shooting, but when it comes to the political process, they won’t cover it,” Williams said. 

Recognizing the gap in local coverage, he emphasizes the need for enhanced advertising of local elections to ensure broader access to information about the city’s future. 

“There needs to be some kind of technology and scale to allow people to input at will,” said Williams. “There’s a lot of stuff that these policies say that people don’t agree with, but they don’t have a voice.” 

By addressing the prevalent issue of limited public input, Williams highlights a broader concern where politicians often concentrate on the problems without offering tangible solutions. 

He asserts, “Instead of just always studying a problem, let’s take a solution, implement it and study from that place.” 

This mindset connects to his overarching mission to bring tangible solutions to the forefront of his work.

“We want to actually empower and inspire our citizens, not necessarily just treat them as charity,” said Williams. 

“My job is to make it so that you don’t need us, but rather, you want to give back because we provided you with a start, not because you’re dependent on us as a lifeline.” 

Under this philosophy, Williams firmly believes that he can make a more profound and meaningful difference working privately than in an elected position. 

“I feel like, especially when you’re running for a big election, you’re taking the time that you could be putting towards other things into trying to win an election,” said Williams. 

Wiliams offered a glimpse into these alternative pursuits by giving a teaser and discussing his technology business. This venture is dedicated to building a community of empowerment by highlighting and supporting disenfranchised communities through media resources. 

“Maverick Innovation will definitely be back up and running again soon,” said Williams. 

In regards to the future of Durham, Williams has great faith in the community and Leonardo Williams.  

“I see Durham in five years being a very multicultural place with a lot of different architecture, and I know there’ll be an influx of a lot of good people here,” he says. 

Reflecting on the political journey, he adds, “He was my opponent, but I wish him well because that means Durham does well.” 

In expressing gratitude to supporters, he continues, “Thank you for your support. I hope I was authentic and fulfilled your obligations and requirements of a leader.” 

“My why is deeper than just being a mayor, my why is actually connected to the community,” said Williams. “So I’m going to challenge you all to stay forth and stay connected. It’s not just a political cycle, it’s a mission and a call. And I promise you, I will be there to continue to fight.”

Edited by Holland Bodner

Along with being a writer for the Durham VOICE, Hannah is a Media and Journalism student at UNC-Chapel Hill with a double major in Political Science. She is a member of NC Fellows, Secretary of the Black Student Movement, Content Manager of Black Ink Magazine, and works as a Staff Assistant at the Sonja Haynes Stone Center.


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