Richard Wills appointed to Ocean Shores council

Former Army officer touts experience with Planning Commission

Richard Wills has attended 190 city council meetings since he moved to Ocean Shores in 2016, “most of them gavel to gavel,” he said.

He’s only missed three, maybe four, in that entire six years, he said.

His “need to engage in the community” is what drove him to each one, he said, providing input and public comment on many occasions.

On Monday he attended his 191st meeting. But this time, when Mayor Jon Martin pounded his wooden gavel to signal adjournment at the Ocean Shores Convention Center, Wills was seated in Position 6 at the dais.

“I’m very pleased to be on the city council,” Wills told The Daily World in an interview.

He added: “I want to do the best job I know how to do.”

The council chose to appoint Wills to the council by a 4-2 vote Monday, one abstaining.

Wills and Peggy Jo Faria, the other candidate for the seat, each addressed the council with their pitch and answered a series of six questions from the council.

When asked how he would work with the council as a team, Wills highlighted his 24 years of experience in the Army, where he retired as a First Sergeant — a position equivalent to Chief Operations Officer, according to his application.

“I was the head of a team, but I always relied on the support of my platoon sergeants and often even the most junior soldiers to allow their input,” Wills said.

During his time in the Army, when Wills was stationed in Germany, he noticed how the European city streets were more suited for foot traffic than many towns in the United States. Wills cited this memory as part of his vision for Ocean Shores, to create a “pedestrian friendly downtown.”

His service in the Army isn’t Wills’ only “service oriented” former occupation, he said. He’s worked as an emergency medical technician, a handyman and a massage therapist.

Perhaps his most relevant service work has been with the Ocean Shores Planning Commission, where he’s served since 2018, and with the Fresh Waterways corporation, where he’s served as a trustee since 2017.

He said he plans to use this experience to improve the city’s waterways — an important tourism asset that’s often overlooked.

“Our beach is wonderful, but our waterways are the one feature that we’ve underutilized for attracting tourism,” Wills said.

After Wills finished his pitch, the council recessed into an executive session and nominated Wills upon their return. He then took his seat at the dais and voted on council business during the regular meeting.

Wills replaces Bob Peterson, who resigned from Position 6 in August. The current term for the position ends Dec. 31, 2023.