ESA Member Bart Williams takes Mississippi State Senate
How Becoming Active in ESA Were Building Blocks to State Senate Run
To say that the security industry draws people in and demonstrates its value in terms of relationship building with the caliber of people who comprise the industry is an understatement, as Bart Williams, president of Security Solutions found out. You see, Williams chose to become an engineer as his profession, but he began dabbling in the security industry part time, soon to discover it would lead him on the path to becoming state Senator in Mississippi.
“I started Security Solutions in 1993; I was an engineer at the time and just started [it as a] part time business,” explains Williams. “And, for five years, it was part time, but in 1998, I made the jump to do it full time.”
Since then, for the last 22 years, Williams has grown his company, currently employing approximately 22 people, and successfully serving the folks of Northern Mississippi.
As a member of ESA, he describes the value of ESA membership in one word: networking. “I mean, there are 20 things, but in a word, if I had to pick one thing, it’s networking,” Williams says. “I’ve gotten to meet professionals from all across this country. We interact; we share horror stories; we help each other. ESA is a melting pot of that.”
In fact, it was the power of networking – or as he puts it, “looking people in the eye” – that Williams believes empowered him to come out on top of the Mississippi State Senator election.
Bart Williams, president at Security Solutions & Communications, Inc. getting sworn into the Mississippi State Senate.
Associations and Politics
It was in 2009 that Williams was elected secretary of the Mississippi Alarm Association (MAA). “That was my entree into associations and started the path that brought me to running for Senate,” he says.
From secretary, Williams was appointed the Legislative Chair of the MMA in 2012 and a year later, they produced a bill that would require licensure in the state of Mississippi to install security systems.
“Most states had it; we didn’t, so we thought the need was there,” Williams says, enthusiastically. “And … the bill was killed in about 30 minutes from one of the big corporate telecom companies.”
Having the pleasure to speak with Williams, becoming more and more intrigued by the minute with his story, I let out an “Oh no!” to which he laughs and says, “Yeah, we thought we really had this great thing going!”
With determination and perseverance to do what was right for the state and the people of Mississippi, Williams and the legislative committee did not give up. Instead, they acted.
“The next year, myself and our legislative committee – there’s about four or five of us – we went around meeting,” says Williams. “First we met with AT&T and we found out where there heartburn was; it wasn’t anything important to us, so we were able to work out a deal with them on the bill and they became a proponent of it. We also met with other people we thought might be in opposition – legislators, attorneys, everyone we could think of to ‘sell our bill,’ so to speak and make sure we were all aligned.”
Talk about some serious hustle; and it was not for naught. In 2014, the Senate passed the bill unanimously while the House only had one person who did not vote for it. So, Williams and his team were successful in getting that bill created and turned into law for the state of Mississippi.
This process grew Williams’ appetite for politics even more, because for him, it is all about the good of the people.
“It [passing the bill] was good for the citizens of the state of Mississippi,” Williams says. “That whole process intrigued me and that is where the desire first came about to run for office.”
“I’ve gotten to meet professionals from all across this country. We interact; we share horror stories; we help each other. ESA is a melting pot of that.”
The Path to State Senator
In June 2020, running for state Senate became real when Jerry Jackson, the current state Senator, retired out of term due to health reasons. (Jackson was the legislator who helped Williams and his team get their bill passed in 2014.)
“I sat there and spent about a day and a half,” reminisces Williams. “I talked to my wife, of course, and my family, my business and the good Lord – and I didn’t get any opposition so we threw our name in the hat and went through with our campaign.”
The campaign lasted three and a half months and was very intense.
“I worked harder than I have in a long time for something … maybe ever [he chuckles] but we got there.”
When the race started, there were four people, and the Williams’ campaign was not frontrunner. There was a lady who was well-known and political, and Williams felt she would probably be the one to come out ahead. This motivated him.
“I thought, ‘well, if we’re not going to win, it’s not going to be because we’re not going to try,” Bart Williams says.
This is where the power of networking came into play. Williams did all the “typical” campaign practices: advertising and using the advice of a consultant, but he believes going door to door pushed his campaign over the edge in favor of the eyes of the people.
“The ‘ground game,’ we call it … looking people in their eyes, going door-to-door, and seeing people and meeting people,” he says. “We knocked on thousands of doors; this district has a population of 55,000 people. I think that’s what did it for us. We worked extremely hard; had a village; and we came out victorious.”
When asked what he hopes to accomplish in office, Williams didn’t answer with his agenda; instead, he is all about serving the people by allowing their voice to be heard.
“I want to truly represent the people of District 15, which is the district I won in and to be their voice in the legislature,” explains Williams. “A lot of people feel like their voice is lost … when someone gets elected, they just kind of become a part of the ‘machine.’ I don’t’ want to become part of the machine.’”
Bart Williams’ goal in Senate is profoundly simple: “They [the people] want to be heard on the issues that are important to them, and that’s what I plan on doing.”
To others, Williams offers an important piece of advice: “get involved and stay involved.”
Williams sets the example of involvement by not only being a member of ESA, but serving on ESA’s Financial Committee as well, now in addition to being Mississippi State Senator.
“Angela White asked me to serve and I said, ‘yes ma’am!’ I’m a numbers guy; I like numbers, quite simply.”
Williams’ journey teaches that even the largest of industries are a lot smaller than we think they are, once we get into them. So vital to Williams’ success has been networking and serving — getting involved and staying involved.
Please join all of us here at ESA in congratulating Bart Williams and wishing him well in serving the people of Mississippi.