Jamaican woman, once homeless, wins election in the US

A woman who migrated from Jamaica after high school and ended up literally homeless in the United States won her race on Election Day yesterday.

She is Karlene Maxwell Williams, a non-partisan candidate.

She won the contest for the post of Commissioner – Seat Four, in the city of Lauderdale Lakes, Florida.

Williams polled 40.70 percent of the votes – defeating the incumbent commissioner Sandra Davey (24.89 percent), as well as Mark Spence (34.40 percent). A total 12,754 people voted.

Reacting to the victory, Williams lauded her supporters, her campaign team, and her relatives – including her husband of three decades, Martin Williams, who is a native of Portland in Jamaica.

The commissioner elect, in an interview with The Beacon, indicated that her win is testament to the fact that people should never give up.

“Do not let your past define your future; never give up,” said the woman, who was born 51 years ago in poverty at Victoria Jubilee Hospital in Kingston.

She initially lived at Half Way Tree in St. Andrew, and subsequently at Waterford in St. Catherine.

Williams attended Half Way Tree Primary School and Holy Childhood High.

She was 18 years old when she left Jamaica with her newborn son to join her mother in the United States.

But things went awry quickly.

Williams claimed that she, along with her baby, was thrown from her mother’s house.

She became homeless – sleeping in the cold and at Grand Central Station.

But she didn’t stay down.

Williams worked at McDonald’s, at Macy’s, and at Bloomingdale’s.

She ended up staying at a women’s shelter in Florida.

She later enrolled at Job Corps – a government-run programme, which allowed her to live on campus and access educational opportunities – all free of cost.

Williams continued to progress.

She attained an Associate Degree in Travel and Tourism, and a Bachelor of Science degree in Management.

She later found meaningful employment at the Florida Department of Revenue|Child Support Enforcement, where she spent 15 years.

Williams eventually started her own business, Maxwell Mediation and Maxwell Solution. She is a Florida Supreme Court Certified Mediator.

She is also seeking to become certified with the Department of Justice in order to better help immigrants, including those who want to obtain green cards and citizenship in the United States.

Williams, over the years, volunteered with the Florida Immigration Coalition Citizenship and other groups.

During her just-concluded election campaign, she made some promises to the people of Lauderdale Lakes. They include greater enforcement of city ordinances, reduction of property millage rates, improvement of programmes for young people and seniors, and attracting businesses to the city.

The people who elected Williams are now looking for performance. She said she is equal to the task.


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