Growing up as a fine arts buff, David Williams said, he never imagined he’d manage the goings-on of a small Prince George’s town.
But the more he fell into managerial roles with his graphic arts career and volunteered with events in his own town of Berwyn Heights, it became evident that serving as Upper Marlboro’s town clerk was a natural fit, despite his lack of experience in municipal government.
“A friend of mine said there was a town clerk position here opening up, so I came and applied and saw I had all kinds of experience, and the rest is history,” he said.
Williams, 56, Upper Marlboro’s town clerk since 2007, has been chosen as Maryland’s 2012 Clerk of the Year. He will receive the award during the annual Maryland Municipal League convention in Ocean City in June.
Upper Marlboro is a 640-resident town founded in 1706 that houses the county’s administration building, courthouse and department of corrections.
Steve Sonnett, president of Upper Marlboro’s board of commissioners, credits Williams with collecting more than $40,000 in unpaid town citations, assisting in creating a town employee handbook and helping to form a new historical committee.
“He has increasingly and voluntarily taken on additional responsibilities and has been a helpful presence in the town,” Sonnett said. “He has become an integral part of the fabric that makes the town of Upper Marlboro a good place to live.”
Williams was born in Beirut. His family eventually moved to Somerset in Chevy Chase. When his freelance painting jobs were not bringing in enough money, he joined the U.S. Navy as a photographer. He did freelance photography, painting and graphic design when he got out of the service four years later.
He became a graphic artist for the American Institute of Architects in 1998, which he credits with giving him much of his office organization and system filing experience. He left AIA in 2005 and made his way into Upper Marlboro’s town hall.
Williams said he volunteers in many community activities and is a part of the historical committee in Berwyn Heights.
Wilda Hernandez, the vice president of the Maryland Municipal Association of Clerks and Bowie’s city clerk, said MMAC received seven nominations for the Clerk of the Year award: from Bowie, Chesapeake City, Edmonston, Greenbelt, Greensboro, Laurel and Upper Marlboro municipal managers, mayors or commission presidents.
Williams is the fourth Prince George’s County clerk to receive the designation since 2000, Hernandez said.
“David is a great guy. He’s someone you can rely on. He’s someone who’s helpful and gives great suggestions in the association,” said Hernandez. “He’s always willing to help out whenever he can.”
Williams said he still can fulfill his arts passion by spearheading town projects such as creating “A Citizen’s Guide,” a booklet for Upper Marlboro residents including maps, graphics and photos with information about the town. He also produces the town’s monthly newsletter.
“I really like the job here because I get to manage and have input in how we set things up and still get artistic satisfaction from the newsletters and pictures we take,” Williams said.