Sen. Matt Williams has been actively involved in local and state business communities since taking on the family bank in Gothenburg in 1973. Maybe a little too involved if you ask his wife, Susan. After his appointment as chairman of the American Bankers Association in 2012, Susan gently suggested that Matt pare down his list of more than 20 board memberships.
He says he was especially sad to leave his position as a board member for the TeamMates mentoring program, but “my wife made me do it,” he said, with a laugh.
Despite his previous experience in public service, making the transition from private citizen to state senator comes with its challenges. Williams, who says long workdays are nothing new, admits that it can be overwhelming to process the volume of new information presented to him.
“I’d been around the Legislature a lot over the years, so I feel like I had a pretty good understanding of how the place operates,” he says. “What has surprised me, though, is just how full my schedule is every single day. I’ve always worked long hours, but I have found that it can be difficult to set aside time to just sit and process all of the information in a respectful and thoughtful manner.”
Free time is certainly at a premium now, but the senator has no problem finding time for his family, which includes son Robert, daughter-in-law Meredith, daughter Julie and son-in-law Luke. He beams when talking about his favorite role of all.
“I have five grandchildren: Ainsley, Maddox, Jax, Joelle and Reid,” he says. “I absolutely adore being a grandpa.”
Despite his early move into the family banking business after law school, Williams never lost interest in his passion for the law. The lawyer said he is energized by the challenges he faces as a new member of the Judiciary Committee.
When debating other issues before the Legislature, Williams has been pleased to find far more commonalities between rural and urban senators than some might expect. Conflict may exist on some issues, he said, but all understand the importance of the state’s most profitable industry.
“I’ve been very pleased to find that senators from all areas of state understand the importance of agriculture to the state,” he said. “We need to continue to look for ways to help agricultural producers so they can be competitive.”