Newspaper article The Florida Times Union

GENERAL ASSEMBLY; Freshman Williams Adjusting the Jesup Legislator Learns the Ropes as He Struggles with His New Double Life

Newspaper article The Florida Times Union

GENERAL ASSEMBLY; Freshman Williams Adjusting the Jesup Legislator Learns the Ropes as He Struggles with His New Double Life

Article excerpt

Byline: BRIAN HUGHES

ATLANTA - With his loosened tie hanging from his neck, Rep. Mark Williams, R-Jesup, casually speaks of adjusting to his first term in office.

He talks about juggling his real estate business with the daily grind of the legislative session and admits that the current two-week break in the General Assembly has helped him catch up on work at home.

Next, he chats about an upcoming Education Committee meeting in less than an hour, shifting his concentration back to his duties at the Capitol, when mid-sentence, his BlackBerry starts buzzing.

"It's work," he says. "Do you mind if I take this?"

In a nutshell, that's the double life of a state legislator.

Williams is no stranger to the political scene. For close to a decade, he served as the campaign manager for Senate Majority Leader Tommie Williams, R-Lyons, but said he is still taken aback by the long workdays.

"As freshmen, besides learning where the bathroom is, the biggest thing you have to learn is time management," Mark Williams said.

Last week, he had to send his 12-year-old daughter, Miranda, flowers because he could not be there for her birthday.

"It definitely can get lonely up here," he said.

Williams is the only freshman legislator from the southeast corner of Georgia, which might make any sense of isolation he feels all the more understandable.

The senate majority leader recruited his long-time campaign manager to fill the House post.

"I think he's got great political skills," said Tommie Williams, who is no relation. "He was a natural choice."

The veteran senator said that while many freshmen fail to learn the rules or budget process, Mark Williams has been progressing faster than most.

However, like freshmen everywhere, Williams lacks the political clout of his senior colleagues and faces an uphill battle in getting bills through the House. …

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