HUNTINGTON, W.Va. (WSAZ) -- The City of Huntington has a new mayor.
Steve Williams took the oath of office, and it wasn't just a quick City Hall ceremony.
It was the night Steve Williams had been waiting for, and since being on stage at the old Keith Albee made for quite a show -- Huntington's new mayor hoped his constituents thought this was worth the wait.
"Our city has a monumental challenge before it. To become a beacon of opportunity in the Ohio Valley we must understand that it will not be accomplished overnight," said Mayor Williams.
Williams said he's already implemented a hiring freeze and a two percent budget cut. He'll also have some difficult talks with the people who helped put him in office.
"Yesterday we opened labor negotiations with the Firefighters and AFSCME workers. We expect those will be completed in the spring," said Mayor Williams.
The crowd -- obviously partisan, but still varied by age -- seemed to like what it heard from the Democratic leader.
"I'm more inspired than I ever have been to live in this city. It really is about picking up your bootstraps and going out to make a difference," said Chelsey Hughes.
"He said many things we need to improve. And as he said, some things have begun to improve," said Audrey McLinton.
Williams told WSAZ.com the other day he does not have plans to replace any department heads from the previous administration.
Williams hasn't determined what kind of across-the-board spending cuts will take place but he says there will be no layoffs.
The new Mayor also says there will be no tax increases, calling that the "easy way out," he went on to say, "some would say that is the tough decision to make but that is the one thing we've learned the last four years, you can't throw money at a problem."
Williams will assign people to audit and take a closer look to ensure all city revenues, like business and occupation taxes are being collected.
"If you do pay attention to the pennies, the nickels, dimes and quarters end up taking care of themselves," Willliams said.
Williams says he is aware things like storm sewers need work. He is also focusing in on the flooding problem. He hopes that Huntington will set the framework for other cities to come and see the innovative way problems were handled, not vice versa.
Williams will be sworn into office, along with members of Huntington City Council Thursday at the Keith Albee.
Williams had a failed run for mayor in 1993. He went to Chicago and worked as a stockbroker.
"This experience taught me all about running businesses," he explained, "Sometimes when you lose you win."
"When I moved to Chicago I was intimidated as I could be, and we have a tendency to not give ourselves enough credit," Williams said. "One thing I learned is that I could swim in the deep waters there."
Williams recalls his move to the city. He was 16-years-old and a quarterback for the Princeton High School Football Team.
"I remember looking up at the building and thinking this must be what New York City is like," he said.
The 56-year-old's awe for the city is still very much alive. He's worked in several different capacities for the city of Huntington. Most recently serving as a city council member, and many years ago was an intern.
Williams left Huntington and went to Chicago for sometime and worked as a stockbroker. He plans to capitalize on his business experience to grow the jobs sector in Huntington. At one point he was the Director of the Putnam County Development Authority. He says the work of the group laid the groundwork for the Buffalo Toyota Plant to bring jobs to the area.
As President of the "M" club Williams keeps the green blood pumping through his veins. The former Marshall Football Player and member of "The Young Thundering Herd," he is reminded of the plane crash that changed the community forever and the lessons and the strength it has provided him.
"That crash defined Huntington," Williams said.
While Williams looks back he also looks to the future and the bar he's set so very high for the city he wants to be "exceptional."
Williams says his office will be open to citizens. He's trying to think of ways to be accessible. Even something like walking or running with constituents in the morning at Ritter Park.
Oh, and if you go to walk with him, don't call him Mayor. Or Mayor Williams.
"There was a Mayor Williams once before, Joe Williams, he helped hire me as city manager, and I respected Joe Williams, I am Mayor Steve I want to be every body's personal mayor!"
And what about those lists that Huntington always seems to end up at the bottom of? Mayor Steve has his sights set on those as well.
"If you are at the bottom "good" cannot be good enough. You can't be running at the same pace of everybody if you are ahead of me I've got to run that much faster not only to catch up and when I do -- my momentum is going to carry me forward. Then that is the story! 'Look! They came from last to first!'"
Huntington Mayor Kim Wolfe has conceded the city mayoral race to mayor-elect Williams.
"I wish the best for the incoming mayor and I will assist in that, because the most important thing is the benefit of the city," Wolfe told WSAZ.com.
With 90 percent of precincts reporting, Williams had received 8,039 votes -- compared to 5,090 for Wolfe.
Wolfe, a Republican, was seeking his second term as mayor.
Democratic challenger Williams is a current city councilman.
Williams appeared on NewsChannel3 Tonight Tuesday to discuss his plans for the city.
"There is greatness in this city," Williams said. "And with that greatness, we're going to see some marvelous things. And these aren't pipe dreams, by any means. There is a quote that my father gave to me once from Robert Browning... It said that if your reach shouldn't exceed your grasp, then what's a heaven for? Well, we're in almost heaven West Virginia and we're going to demonstrate to everyone that we have a very unique way of looking at things and people will be coming to us to see how we got that done."
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