By L.A. Williams, Correspondent
Christian Action League
RALEIGH — Just two years after being appointed Chairman of the North Carolina Alcoholic Beverage Control Commission, Jonathan S. Williams is taking a new post as the Tar Heel state’s Assistant Secretary for Energy.
Though the Christian Action League wishes him well in this endeavor, the Rev. Mark Creech, the League’s executive director, said Williams will be sorely missed.
“During the time that Chairman Williams has served at ABC, we have become friends. But most importantly, I perceived him to be a true friend to ‘control’ issues,” said Dr. Creech. “He is a brilliant man and understands well the history of alcohol control from the repeal of Prohibition to the present day. His inquisitive mind has garnered considerable knowledge about how alcoholic beverages are made and what negative effects marketing can have on the public’s health.”
Prior to his work at ABC, Williams had served as Deputy Secretary for the Department of Crime Control and Public Safety. He had a law practice in Goldsboro during the 1990s and was named one of the N.C. Jaycees’ Five Outstanding Young North Carolinians for 1999.
When he was tapped by Gov. Bev Perdue to chair the ABC Commission, Williams faced a backlog of alcohol violations and other work at the agency where the top post had been vacant for more than four months. He came in less than a year after the Legislature’s Program Evaluation Division had issued a report labeling the ABC system “outdated” and in need of modernization and took the helm during a period of intense scrutiny of the agency from both lawmakers and the Governor’s Office.
While the debate over privatization of liquor sales heated up, his office helped provide legislators with information and perspective to craft new laws to strengthen and improve the ABC system, requiring more accountability from local boards and giving the state commission additional oversight tools to help ensure that boards are profitable.
“One of the things I appreciate so much about Chairman Williams is that he was concerned enough about alcohol policy in this state that when some questionable alcohol related legislation was on the table, he showed up at the Legislature to speak directly with lawmakers about that initiative or to testify before a committee,” Dr. Creech said. “And often, he and I would find each other on the same side, working together to protect North Carolina’s citizens from the ravages of wrong-headed alcohol policies.”
The announcement of Williams’ departure from ABC came last week from Keith Crisco, N.C. Secretary of Commerce, who said that in his new role Williams will develop policies to help expand energy resources and jobs and implement energy conservation strategies. He will head the state Energy Office, which supervises millions of dollars in grants for weatherization assistance.
“I am thankful to God that ABC had Williams as long as they did, but I am saddened the time was not nearly long enough,” Dr. Creech said.
Williams, who lives in Raleigh with his wife, Rose, and their two children, will take on his new duties at the Energy Division on Nov. 1.