Best Local Politician - 2003
Treasurer, City of St. Louis
Readers' Choice: St. Louis Mayor Francis Slay
Larry Williams pokes fun at himself when he says, "Here comes Larry Williams with a pocketful of nickels." It's a reference to his responsibility for the city's parking meters, a job he has parlayed into a bonding authority to finance the construction of parking garages. Williams was the key developer for garages for the Savvis Center, the convention center hotel and the Schafly Public Library in the Central West End. Building garages is second only to politics for Williams, who has been elected treasurer of the City of St. Louis every four years since 1981. The past two elections, no one even bothered to run against him. One fellow politico describes Williams as "ingratiating, in the best sense of the word." A spry 70 years of age, Williams hasn't lost his political acumen: At first he was an outspoken opponent of changing the city charter, but sensing shifting political winds, he dropped his opposition. This term, ending in 2005, is likely his last. By then the role of treasurer might be melded with comptroller and collector of revenue. It's only fitting that the only way to do away with Williams is to do away with his office.