Abilene Makes History As Its First African-American Mayor Is Sworn In

Our daily roundup of Texas headlines.

By Becky FogelJune 26, 2017 11:13 am

The Standard’s news roundup gives you a quick hit of interesting, sometimes irreverent, and breaking news stories from all over the state.

The fired Balch Springs police officer who shot and killed an unarmed, African-American teenager is facing new, unrelated charges for aggravated assault.

The two charges Roy Oliver faces have to do with a road rage incident that took place in April, 13 days before he killed Jordan Edwards.

Dallas police say while off-duty, Oliver drew his gun and pointed it at the ground while approaching a driver who rear-ended his car.

Oliver turned himself in Friday and was released the same day after posting bail.

Both charges carry a punishment of five to 99 years in prison.

Anthony Williams will be sworn in as mayor of Abilene today.

It’s a historic moment for the Texas city, reports KACU’s Joy Bonala:

When the results came in showing Anthony Williams won 57 percent of the votes over his opponent, Robert O. Briley, emotions ran high among his staff of volunteers.

According to campaign finance reports, Williams and Briley almost tied in their fundraising but Briley added an additional $70,000 of his own money to his campaign.

“I am happy personally, but I truly believe that the victory represents things beyond Anthony Williams and that is that the average guy, the average Abilenian, can be mayor of Abilene,” Williams says.

Getting voters to turn out for a runoff is a challenge, especially in the summer.

But this election was different: People were so eager to vote, there was actually a higher turnout at the runoff than the general election. It’s been at least two decades since that has happened in Taylor County.

“I would attribute that to our hard work. We actually contacted 20,000 registered voters,” Williams says.

Williams will be Abilene’s first African-American mayor in the city’s 136-year history.

“Just like other Texans, I’m proud to be a Texan. As an African-American, I’m proud of my heritage, but I really want to focus more broadly on our community,” Williams says.

He wants to keep the conversation about making Abilene better, but he knows when he’s sworn in, it’ll be a big moment.

“I’ll say this, my dad was not here when I was a child, [so I was] raised by my mother and assisted by my great-grandfather in Anson, TX who lived through Jim Crow, who had to pay a poll tax, take an aptitude test,” Williams says. “My mother tells a time when she woke up and found a burning cross in her front yard. My family is pretty emotional about this, so that day will be an emotional day for me.”

Williams’ grandmother, who is almost 90, will be here to see him get sworn in.

It’s just about a week out from July 4 and that means fireworks are on sale again in Texas.

Retailers could begin selling them on Saturday, June 24.

And by law, the last chance to snap them up is midnight on the Fourth of July.