For Anson Williams, "Happy Days" never left him.
The former star of the beloved sitcom lost his bid for mayor of Ojai, California after a recount, but the 73-year-old told Fox News Digital that the support from his "brothers" has been an even bigger win.
"We’ve been through so many life experiences together over the past decades," said Williams about "Happy Days" alum Ron Howard, Henry Winkler and Don Most.
"They’re my brothers for life," he shared, while fighting back tears. "When I explained to them I was going to run for mayor, they said, ‘Whatever we can do, just say the word.’ They were so behind me. And that really hit my heart. They know me so well. They know the good of me, the bad of me."
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"They were so convinced that I would do a great job," Williams continued. "They were so convinced that I would be an asset to this community. It made me believe in myself even more because I respect them. These are smart friends. They don’t just throw that around easily… But the support my brothers have given me, it only motivates me more to move forward, keep going."
For Howard, Winkler and Most, the decision to cheer Williams on was a no-brainer.
"I was proud of Anson when I first learned he was running for mayor," Howard said in a statement to Fox News Digital. "He has so much heart and having worked with him not only as an actor but more significantly as a producer and director I knew his organizational and leadership qualities could help him navigate challenges and differences and deliver on the needs of his community. Throw his years as an entrepreneur and businessman into the mix and well…. I felt he’d have a lot to offer any community he’d choose to serve."
"When I heard Anson was running for mayor, it did not matter where, it seemed so right," Winkler added. "His heart and mind are both fit for taking care of a city filled with problems big and small – period!"
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"I am so proud of Anson," said Most. "I was very impressed with his commitment and dedication in making Ojai a better place for its residents. He’d be an amazing mayor and bring forth the much-needed changes."
Williams recalled how Howard went out of his way to offer a helping hand during his campaign.
"When I was running for mayor, there was a disaster meeting for the public," Williams explained. "We had a dangerous situation with fire here. Since the Thomas Fire [in 2017], not much had been done to stop it from happening again… I arrived there, and 30 people showed up from the whole community for this fire plan… After about three minutes, it was over. I remember raising my hand and saying, ‘Where’s the plan?… You have no fire plan.’"
"Ron and I speak every couple of weeks… never business," said Williams. "[But] I explained to him how concerned I was about this fire situation. He said, ‘Anson, I produced and directed ‘Rebuilding Paradise.’ I learned a lot. I can’t promise you, but if I can get away, how about I come to Ojai, we screen the movie and then do a question and answer? Do you think that would help?’ I thought, ‘Let me think about it – yes.’"
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"Rebuilding Paradise," which was released in 2020, explored how the community of Paradise, California, attempted to rebuild after devastating wildfires in 2018.
The Academy Award winning filmmaker told Williams he was on the road promoting his film "Thirteen Lives." However, soon after, the 68-year-old gave Williams another ring.
"[Ron] said, ‘I’m gonna be in LA in the morning,’" Williams recalled. "’I’m heading to Newport Beach for the film festival there. I’ll drive there from Ojai and we’ll do a screening. Is that OK?’… And Ron does come up to Ojai. This had nothing to do with politics. It all had to do with the safety of our community."
According to Williams, the screening took place at Matilija Auditorium, which holds about 400 people. In mere days, the public event was put together.
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"We had to turn a hundred people away," said Williams. "And the event was sensational. We had all the right people, all the experts. We had a wonderful New York Times bestselling author, we put fire groups up and center, and we did a question and answer with Ron. It was a wonderful anti-disaster event. We got the community together and had candid discussions about prevention in Ojai. It raised questions, sparked ideas. And it was because of Ron Howard, who went out of his way to help me. That’s my brother. He did it for free, just to help. And he then had to drive back to his hotel in Santa Monica and then be on an 8:00 a.m. plane the next day. That’s Ron Howard. That’s a friend."
"The Paradise Fire was very similar to what we had experienced," Williams reflected. "We just lucked out with the Thomas Fire because the weather changed. The wind came up and literally, it was God’s breath that saved this community... There was some damage, but it could have been so much worse. A whole downtown would’ve perished. We just want to make sure that [what happened in Paradise] never happens again."
Williams was initially compelled to run for mayor because he wanted to give back to a community that he said "saved my life." After suffering a cancer scare in 2016, Williams said the residents of Ojai "embraced me."
"I just wanted to give back," he said. "I wanted to start some conversations and help open up the hearts of some people."
Williams lost the race to Betsy Stix by 42 votes, The Wrap reported. He said the experience brought him and his "brothers" closer.
"I love them so much," said Williams. "They went out of their way to support me, both personally and publicly. After all these years, I’m just grateful to have that kind of love and support from them. [After the loss] they immediately reached out to say how proud they were of my efforts. It was truly a memorable time in my life."
Looking back at his run, Williams said he wanted to debate Stix, which he said never happened. A spokesperson for Stix did not immediately respond to Fox News Digital’s request for comment.
"I emailed her and asked her politely," Williams claimed. "I said, ‘We really need a debate. There’s a lot not being said… And the public needs to ask us questions.’… She refused. I paid for ads in the news. They were funny ads that showed me in a debate room alone, waiting for the mayor to show up… I tried to put pressure on her to have a debate. But it never happened. I was extremely surprised. How can you have an election without some spontaneity and the public involved on the spot? We need to hear the concerns of the public. And we need to have discussions – and a plan – on how to address those concerns."
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Williams has not ruled out the possibility of running for another role in public office. However, he stressed that it "would be years away" before he would revisit the idea. As of right now, "it’s not even in the cards." These days, he is gearing up for his wedding on May 6.
"This experience was quite an education," he chuckled. "It became wonderful and not so wonderful. You witnessed the best of human nature and the worst of human nature. What I learned was there’s an even better human nature and an even worse human nature… I want us to bring out the best in our community."
Meanwhile, he's a supporter of TransparentOjai.com, which promises to provide "honest information, education and access to public disclosure documents, and materials that represent all viewpoints."
"The purpose [of the site] is to keep citizens informed about what our elected representatives are doing and how their decisions affect us, personally and effectively," said Williams. "We are in the process of building a platform for open and honest discussion, aggregating news articles, video clips, etc. that will shine a light into the dark corners of Ojai’s City Hall."
"That won’t leave me," he continued. "And I’m thankful because the only way you can bring things to light and get things corrected is to speak out. That’s your responsibility as a citizen, as a member of the community. You need to have your voice heard… And maybe this experience will inspire other people to have their voices heard, too."