By Michael Goldstein
By Dennis Romero
By Sarah Fenske
By Matthew Mullins
By Patrick Range McDonald
By LA Weekly
By Dennis Romero
By Simone Wilson
Did City Council candidate Deron Williams tell enough truth about his 1988 drug-trafficking arrest as a young adult? Williams has said recently that he never tried to hide his troubled youth. You be the judge based on the interview transcript below.
The story about Williams’ felony cocaine conviction had not come to public attention when Williams came to the L.A. Weekly in February for an interview with the editorial board. Members of the Weekly’s interview panel knew nothing about Williams’ past at the time.
In the wide-ranging conversation that is excerpted below, Williams made a point of inserting the narrative of his difficult childhood, but omitted any mention of his problems with the law, even when asked if he’d been able to avoid getting into trouble. That portion – from the start of the interview until the discussion moved to other topics – is transcribed in its entirety, except for a few words that were unintelligible on the tape or omitted because additional confirmation would have been required. Williams returns to the topic of his youth at the end of interview. That portion also is included.
On the issues, Williams staked out political positions substantially similar to Martin Ludlow, the candidate he now faces in the May 20 runoff to represent the 10th City Council District. (Excerpts of an interview with Ludlow were posted on the Weekly Web site in February.) Williams set himself apart from Ludlow based on the continuity of his 14 years of work in the district. Williams also put distance between himself and incumbent Holden, who is leaving office because of term limits. Some of this discussion is excerpted as well. Williams’ entire professional career has been spent working for Holden. He is currently Holden’s top deputy and Holden’s support has been crucial in attracting campaign funding for Williams.
(One factual note: During the interview, Williams recalls that he was 19 when he met City Councilman Holden by chance and began working for him. Williams was actually about 21 years old when this meeting occurred; he was twenty when arrested on the drug charge.)L.A. WEEKLY: Tell us about yourself.DERON WILLIAMS: My name is Deron Williams and I’m running for the 10th Council District. I’ve lived and worked in the district approximately 14 years. I’m raising my family in the district. I shop in the district. I jog in the district. I swim in the district. I have my cleaners in the district. My barbershop is in the district –
The district is my life. But I love what I do. The very first day I started working, I had a passion for serving the public, and I took advantage of it for the last 14 years. That’s what I love doing. And to make it clear, I’m going to be frank. I’m not Nate Holden’s clone. I’m totally different.
What have been your highpoints in working for Nate? What would you want to call our attention to?
Well, he gave me an opportunity in 1988, when I was around 19 years old, to start working on his staff. So I appreciate him giving me the opportunity.Where were you? How did he find you at the age of 19?
Well, at the age of 19, I was literally a young man growing up in South Central Los Angeles. I met him at the corner of Rodeo, at Rite Aid. We had an opportunity to talk. It was Thrifty’s. It is Rite Aid now. We had an opportunity to talk and gave me his card and told me to come down. And met his staff that Monday. And I’ve been on his staff ever since.Well, wait a minute. Did you recognize him?
No, I didn’t know the councilman.So how –
He approached us. He said he appreciated the way we were dressed. He said, you guys are well groomed and you guys are –And what were you doing there so well groomed?
We were in the process of heading to the movies, right at the corner of Coliseum and La Brea, the old Baldwin Hills Theater, and we were, we just happened to stop over at Thrifty’s to get us some gum and things like that. You know when you go to movies you want to take you some gum or something before you get in the movies. So that’s what we did and literally we went down to the movies that night. But we talked to the councilman for about 25, 30 minutes.But he approached you.
He approached us. He sure did. Three young men. I was with three other guys.You go to see a movie and you get a job.
I got a job.That’s not bad.
Yeah, you can’t believe it. I couldn’t believe it. But I’ve been employed ever since.Where did you go to high school?
Yes, University of La Verne. Just recently got my bachelor’s.Not an easy place to get to in the afternoon traffic.
On Fridays it was difficult getting there during rush-hour traffic. You’re normally on the freeway for hours. If I leave work around five it took me about an hour and a half to get there.
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