‘Keep your word’: Retiring Phoenix Councilmember and 3-time Mayor Thelda Williams has advice for us all

City of Phoenix photo

By Jen Fifield | Arizona Republic

Phoenix Councilmember Thelda Williams is the only person to have served as Phoenix’s mayor three times.

She’s the council member that others have relied on over time for advice, history and nuance.

She’s served northwest Phoenix’s District 1 for the better part of the last three decades, from 1989 to 1996, and from 2008 to now.

And now Williams, 79, is retiring from public office.

On Monday, Ann O’Brien will be sworn in to replace Williams in District 1, after winning the seat in November. Williams did not run in that election because she had reached the city’s term limits after serving three consecutive terms.

Michael Nowakowski also is leaving office after serving three consecutive terms in District 7.

Yassamin Ansari won the District 7 seat in March and will be sworn in on Monday, along with Mayor Kate Gallego and Councilmembers Betty Guardado and Debra Stark.

Williams, a Republican, earned the trust of politicians on both sides of the aisle over the years, including former Democratic Mayors Paul Johnson and Phil Gordon and the current council, who on three separate occasions appointed Williams to serve as the city’s interim mayor in 1994, 2012 and 2019.

Before Williams steps down, we asked her to impart some of her wisdom. Here’s what she had to say.


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