Huntington Mayor Steve Williams, right, is shown with U.S. Vice President Joe Biden
WASHINGTON (WSAZ) -- Technology, infrastructure and food and nutrition were among the topics that Huntington Mayor Steve Williams discussed with the nation’s leaders and other mayors across the country this week, according to a city of Huntington news release.
Williams attended the 82nd winter meeting of the U.S. Conference of Mayors in Washington, D.C., as a guest of Louisville, Ky., Mayor Greg Fischer. The three-day conference that ended Friday was attended by more than 285 Democratic and Republican mayors and highlighted the innovations taking place as a result of mayoral leadership.
All mayors at the conference traveled to the White House on Thursday to hear presentations from President Obama and Vice President Joe Biden. The conference also included nine Cabinet members who participated in committee meetings and task force sessions.
“I heard many innovative approaches that were discussed by my Republican and Democratic counterparts across the country and one thing became clear to me – we can stand toe-to-toe with all of them,” Williams said. “In some respects, we are leading the charge. No other city has a free mobile app emergency alert notification system like Heads Up Huntington, and every other mayor I spoke to about it was very intrigued.”
Williams also had an opportunity to speak with Vice President Biden during his visit to the White House on Thursday. Williams said he told Biden about Huntington’s stormwater infrastructure problems and how it creates challenges for public safety and economic development.
“I asked (Biden) how we could get federal assistance in this matter, and he responded that cities that are willing to identify new pathways to solve their problems will get attention from them,” Williams said. “I’ve been saying that our proposed stormwater initiative is seeking a new way.”
Williams also spoke at length to Audrey Rowe, administrator of food and nutrition services for the U.S. Department of Agriculture. Williams said he told Rowe about efforts in Huntington to expand the Central City Market and the overall desire to make locally-produced food more accessible.
“She said that West Virginia is one of the U.S. Department of Agriculture’s target states,” Williams said. “I made a request that she come to Huntington to meet with us and help us accomplish our goals.”