Students launch City Council PAC ‘Williamsburg for All’

Williamsburg for All website page. COURTESY IMAGE / WILLIAMSBURG FOR ALL
Williamsburg for All website page. COURTESY IMAGE / WILLIAMSBURG FOR ALL

Monday, April 15, the “Williamsburg for All” account went live on Instagram and its website. Williamsburg for All is a new political action committee started by College of William and Mary Student Assembly Secretary of Public Affairs Grayson Horner ’26.

In an interview with The Flat Hat, Horner explained the goal of Williamsburg for All is to help elect Williamsburg City Council candidates who will represent students at the College and relay their issues.

“The reality is that we have all of these on campus groups, but for us to win these elections, we need a political structure, more or less,” Horner said. “We need to raise money and spend it on mailers. We need to spend it on candidate training. Because it’s a small city, if we want to get students on council, they’re going to be up against more entrenched residents who have donors that they know. And so for us to be able to win, we just need that extra support. They need that extra money as well.”

Horner said, in running the PAC, he works closely with Our Williamsburg and the organization’s president, Will Katabian ’25.

“Williamsburg For All is another incredible organization aimed at promoting a pro-student majority on city council,” Our Williamsburg wrote on an Instagram story. “We will be working closely with them in the future so please consider following and supporting.”

Horner cited Councilmember Caleb Rogers ’20 and former Councilmember Benming “Benny” Zhang ’16 J.D. ’20 as examples of councilmembers with different ideological views who advocated for student issues.

“As a William & Mary graduate from the class of 2020, I wholeheartedly support initiatives that encourage student involvement in local governance, so it is great to see the new student-run PAC, ‘Williamsburg 4 All,’” Rogers wrote in an email to The Flat Hat. “The sustained representation of recent graduates on the Williamsburg City Council since 2010 is a tradition that underscores the vital contributions students can make to our community. This representation should certainly continue.”

Rogers added that while he’s not directly involved with the initiative, he is thrilled to see their commitment to empowering students through active participation in local elections.

“As a current member of the City Council, I encourage [students] to keep an open mind for my colleagues who are also running,” Rogers wrote. “We certainly need student candidates and I’m happy knowing we have great options currently serving as well. I look forward to seeing the positive changes that Williamsburg 4 All endorsed candidates will bring to Williamsburg.” 

According to the Virginia Public Access Project, the PAC is Democratic. Horner is currently listed on the VPAP website as the top donor with $3,029 donated. Horner said he donated the money to help get the PAC going, but has also since received small donations from various donors, including students.

According to the PAC’s statement of organization, its purpose is to promote progressive candidates for local offices in Williamsburg. Though Horner said the PAC is nonpartisan, it uses Democratic platforms for their operations, such as the website. Despite this, the PAC is open to endorsing candidates who represent students, regardless of party. 

“We are focusing on basically three issues, we’re more or less a single issue group, which is student issues and their concerns and their problem with how the city is currently run,” Horner said.

The PAC’s Communications Director Kiley Pryor ’26 listed the PAC’s goals and priorities, as well as her responsibilities in the effort.

“Our goal with Williamsburg For All is to get students more involved and student issues more present in Williamsburg City Council,” Pryor wrote in an email to The Flat Hat. “Students don’t currently have a voice when it comes to matters happening off-campus, despite a large portion of students living and working off campus. We intend to support pro-student candidates for the upcoming City Council election.”

According to its website, the committee aims to control the majority of the seats on the council.

“Our goal is to fund and elect three Williamsburg City Councilors this coming fall that are passionate about including students in discussions concerning local governance in Williamsburg and who will advocate for student perspectives on key local issues,” the website reads.

The committee is also currently accepting student volunteers and staff members.

Williamsburg residents will head to the polls this November to elect members of the five-person city council. The council serves as the legislative body of the City of Williamsburg, tasked with appropriating the local budget and appointing the city manager. Andrew Trivette, currently in the chief executive role, serves to implement policies and directives of the council. Williamsburg Mayor Doug Pons serves as the ceremonial head of Williamsburg and chairs the city council.

CORRECTION (04/16/24): Article was updated by Anna Saal, the Standards and Practices Editor to remove the political party labels of Caleb Rogers and Benny Zhang. Councilmembers do not affiliate with a major party.


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