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NAME: Steve Williams
CANDIDATE FOR: Mayor of City of Huntington
CAMPAIGN WEBSITE: www.SteveWilliams2020.com
HOME CITY: Huntington
HOME COUNTY: Cabell
EDUCATION: Huntington High School, 1974; Marshall University, Bachelor of Arts, Political Science, 1978; West Virginia University, Masters of Public Administration, 1980; University of the South School of Theology, Education for Ministry, 2010.
CURRENT OFFICE OR OCCUPATION: Mayor of Huntington
OTHER WORK HISTORY: Former City Manager - Huntington, WV; Senior Vice President, Russell, Rea, and Zappala Investment Bankers; Market Manager - Chicago Market, Banc One Securities Corporation; Market Wholesaler - Chicago Market, Banc One Investment Advisors; Investment Advisor - Charleston, WV market, Banc One Securities; Midwest Regional Manager – Illinois, Indiana, Michigan, Ohio, Pennsylvania, CCO Investment Advisors; Regional Manager - West Virginia, Eastern Ohio, Western Pennsylvania, Western New York, Huntington Investment Corporation.
CIVIC ORGANIZATIONS: Marshall Big Green Club; Marshall Alumni Association; Marshall M Club.
ENDORSEMENTS: Southwestern District Labor Council, Steelworkers Local 40, Greater Huntington Area Chamber of Commerce.
FAMILY: wife, Mary Poindexter Williams; stedaughters, Nikki Urban Reed, Laura Urban.
PERSONAL STATEMENT: In the years that I have been Mayor I consistently stated that we will seek to set standards that the nation would seek to emulate. Cities throughout West Virginia and from around the nation have continuously looked to our example as to how a community can face difficult challenges and create innovative solutions. We have become known as a “City of Solutions” and a “City of Compassion”. This has been your accomplishment. We have changed the way our city addresses problems and celebrates success. It has been an honor to see our city evolve. Our work is not done.
1. What are your suggestions for the long-term financing of Huntington's government?
My administration found that by gaining control of the cost of our employee benefits we were able to stretch our dollars to meet our long ignored infrastructure challenges. We did not had a revenue problem. We had an expense problem. Now that we have expenses under control, we can begin to address the long term capital challenges facing all cities.
2. What are the most important problems in your district (or city for mayor and at-large council candidates)?
We have no problem that good-paying jobs cannot cure. A diverse economic foundation is underway in Highlawn, Fairfield, and the West End. The planned development of these neighborhoods coupled with the scheduled construction of high-speed broadband will serve to transform the city beyond any growth this city has experienced in the past 60 years.
3. Should the city bring back a curbside recycling program? If so, should it be funded with a levy vote or by expanding the county's program?
Huntington should establish a mandatory city wide curbside recycling program. An incentive to recycle should be established that reduces the monthly refuse collection fee.
4. What more needs to be done to encourage new housing construction in the city?
We have established a comprehensive effort to create new housing construction. By eliminating the Business and Occupation tax on new housing construction for new construction up to $200,000 we believe new construction will be encouraged. We also need to encourage rehabilitation of homes with these incentives because 57% of our rental property is determined to be declining or unsafe.
5. How would you continue to fight the opioid epidemic? Do you support the harm reduction program?
We see more people struggling with addiction because our community institutions have established more advanced efforts combatting addiction. There must be a comprehensive federal response. Ideally treatment should take place closer to home. Why should we provide treatment to citizens of other areas? I support harm reduction because it is evidence based, saves lives, and increases the likelihood of treatment.
6. What more could be done to help tear down dilapidated houses?
We demolished over 100 structures in 2019. The unsafe building list has reduced from over 400 to just over 100 in 4 years. We need to focus efforts on assuring that housing does not begin to decline to unsafe levels. Our efforts to encourage the rehabilitation of structures should at least mirror our efforts of recent years towards demolition.
7. How will you address Huntington’s dwindling population?
As Huntington establishes itself as the economic and employment engine of the region, the housing of Huntington must be constructed and restored to encourage people to live near their employment, cultural, and recreational opportunities and outlets. Individuals seeking to move from metro regions will recognize the diverse opportunities that present themselves in our reinvented community.
8. How will you continue to encourage the decrease in crime throughout the city?
First and foremost, increased economic opportunity will decrease crime further. Secondly, we have learned as we continue to establish successful strategies in fighting addiction, crime reduces. Lastly, as our economic fortunes improve, our neighborhoods will begin to rejuvenate and substandard housing drawing the attention of transient deviants will diminish and will improve the quality of life in our neighborhoods.
9. Do you think staffing levels for the city’s police and fire departments are adequate, too low or too high? If you think changes are needed, how would you accomplish those?
The current staffing levels for police and fire are still below budgeted levels. When the budgeted staffing levels are achieved, we will be staffed at a number that will meet our high expectations. We recently utilized a local marketing firm whose efforts provided the largest recruitment class in the police department in 25 years.
10. The state of WV government recently put all finances and purchases online for the public’s review. Do you support a similar thing happening in Huntington?
The city’s finances, expenditures, and annual audits are published on the city’s webpage and updated monthly for public review. Budgets, audits, monthly city finance reports, as well as overview and impact of delinquent collection efforts are all found in the Documents section under Finance. TIF reports and city service fee are also presented.
NEW GENERAL ELECTION QUESTIONS
11. How would you address the problem of loose trash and litter in the city?
Since 2014 we have conducted annual neighborhood and alley sweeps for residents to dispose of 33,359,600 pounds of trash. In 2015, the Water Quality Board for the 1st time in 15+ years initiated a street sweeping program in every neighborhood and downtown removing over 13,702,000 pounds of debris from the city streets. Neighborhood participation is the key.
12. Do you support rehabilitation housing in the city? Why or why not?
I support legitimate recovery organizations. What I absolutely will not tolerate and our city should not allow is human trafficking in the name of recovery that victimizes those suffering with substance abuse disorder by placing them in unsafe housing and also doing great harm to our neighborhoods by not complying with safety, business or zoning regulations.
13. What more could be done to encourage businesses to open in the city?
My decision to create the position of a business services advocate seven years ago has made City Hall a friendly place for new businesses or existing businesses seeking to expand. Our focus is now on job creation and attracting knowledge-sector businesses to the former ACF site in Highlawn. I am creating a task force this fall focused on that objective.
14. What more could be done to promote an inclusive environment as part of the city’s “Open to All” campaign?
My Mayor’s Advisory Committee on Diversity devised the voluntary “Open To All” Campaign. Huntington’s “Open To All” campaign won the National League of Cities 2018 Small Cities Cultural Diversity Award. “Open To All” is a volunteer effort embraced by the community and region proving that a community can advance diversity and inclusion without governmental mandate. Effective leadership encourages community action.