The Working Lands Alliance honored State Senator Donald E. Williams, Jr. with its Legislative Leadership Award for his dedication to preserving Connecticut’s farmland and agricultural heritage. Senator Martin Looney and Terry Jones presented Senator Williams with the award at WLA’s Annual Meeting, held on November 18th at the State Capitol.
“In Sen. Williams, Connecticut has benefitted from a staunch advocate who has helped provide millions of dollars for farmland preservation and a variety of other agricultural programs,” said Andrew McElwaine, President of American Farmland Trust. “With his retirement Connecticut loses a committed leader in the fight to protect farmland. It is my honor to congratulate him for this award.”
Over Sen. Williams’ long career in the Senate, he has recognized the value and importance of our state’s farmland resources and our agricultural heritage.
In 2005, Sen. Williams championed the Community Investment Act, which passed on a bipartisan vote thanks to his capable leadership. This forward-thinking piece of legislation has provided millions of dollars in funding for farmland preservation and a variety of agricultural programs, as well as funding for open space conservation, historic preservation and affordable housing.
Since that time, the Senator defended the legislation from potential diversions to other uses, ensuring that the legislation remained a vital source of funds for these core programs and projects, which have benefitted nearly every community in the State. After announcing his retirement, a Hartford Courant editorial surmised that the Community Investment Act could be “one of his most significant and longest-lasting contributions.”
Sen. Williams has been the Senate President – the highest-ranking legislator in the State – since 2004, the longest tenure for a Senate President in Connecticut’s history. During this time, Williams’ leadership led to many important gains for farmland preservation, including significant increases in bond authorizations for the Farmland Preservation Program, the protection of prime state-owned farmland, and the creation of the Community Farms Preservation Program.