Monterey Mayor Tyller Williamson returned to campus Tuesday, March 14, as a proud alumnus to speak at the third Diversity Celebration. Williamson is the first openly gay and first Black mayor of the city of Monterey. He talked about how his identity impacted his life, from his education, to eventually running for office.
Williamson was raised in a military family and learned the importance of service from his mother. During his election, he ran a people-driven campaign. He prioritized ensuring everyone’s voice is heard, a value he learned from David Reichard, a professor of History and Legal Studies at California State University, Monterey Bay (CSUMB).
Since he was elected in November, Williamson has taken action to provide clean water and affordable housing because of these needs that his community addressed.
“I want to hear from every voice in the community because that is what makes democracy more than just a word on paper.”
His speech emphasized the significance of civil engagement and being mayor taught him that “using your voice really does matter. We might not always get what we want, but it’s about engaging and dialogue. You have to be able to listen as much as you want to give to make sure we’re establishing the best policies for the community.”
Williamsons’ experiences through his own identity made him conscientious of the struggles that others face. As a campaign intern for President Obama’s campaign in 2012, he observed his ability to pull others together regardless of their different perspectives.
His identity relates to his goals as mayor because “it’s who I am, it’s how I see the world. I’m a gay Black man and my life experiences have shaped that for the good and the bad. Oftentimes when I’m in certain spaces, I feel imposter syndrome. I have to silence that and know the loving, and caring voices in the community are what I need to lean on.”
Reminiscing on his time here, Williamson said, “I love CSUMB. I love being on campus and seeing all the students and faculty members. It reminds me of when I was taking classes here and all the acceptance I felt.”