Mike Williams, the former state senator from Maynardville, is now Mike Williams, project manager for the Tennessee Department of Transportation.
Known throughout the state Capitol for his independent streak, Williams was a Republican state senator until 2007, when he left the GOP to serve the remainder of his term as an "independent." The move was not a surprise as Williams and Republican Lt. Gov. Ron Ramsey were well known to have a less-than-cordial relationship.
This past election cycle, Williams ran as an independent, with the support of the Tennessee Democratic Party, but was narrowly defeated by Republican Mike Faulk, a Church Hill attorney. His last party affiliation listing in the Tennessee Blue Book was "Independent NASCAR fan."
Asked to confirm Williams' employment and outline his responsibilities, TDOT spokesperson Julie Oaks said, "I can confirm that Mike Williams is one of several people hired recently by TDOT. Mike was hired as a Project Manager in our Knoxville Regional Office. Throughout the life of a transportation project (or projects), the Project Manager is the point of accountability for internal TDOT customers and external customers including outside agencies, public officials, and the traveling public. They help coordinate the different areas of the department and build project "teams" for major projects composed of members representing the functional areas of the Department.
"During construction, the project manager continues this role by working with the construction and environmental areas of TDOT, the contractor, elected officials and the public."
Oaks then added, "As you know, a large amount of the Recovery Act funding goes to transportation departments and oversight of those funds is a huge requirement of the Recovery Act. TDOT's Project Managers serve as the point of accountability for the construction projects under their oversight. The department had a number of vacancies in our project management office and has chosen to fill several of those in light of the increase in construction activity with the ARRA. I would emphasize that these are previously budgeted positions and are not newly created positions within TDOT."
While serving in the legislature, Williams' occupation was that of "antique automobile restoration." He served as Speaker Pro Tempore of the State Senate under former Lt. Gov. John Wilder and in the 104th General Assembly served as chair of the Senate Transportation Committee.