by Jasmine Batchelor
July 30, 2019
Huntington, West Virginia
Steve Williams was elected mayor of Huntington, West Virginia, in November 2012 and was re-elected in November 2016.
Under Williams’ leadership, Huntington has become known as the “epicenter of the solution” to the opioid epidemic. This effort began with establishing a Mayor’s Office of Drug Control Policy in 2014 that has helped develop a harm reduction program, an adult drug court and a quick response team to steer an individual into treatment after they overdose. Since 2015, the City of Huntington has acquired $4.8 million in state, federal and philanthropic grants to combat the opioid epidemic.
In 2018, the City of Huntington was one of 10 cities to participate in the Mayors’ Institute on Opioids, hosted by the National League of Cities in Boston, and was one of 9 cities to receive $1 million in the Bloomberg Philanthropies’ Mayors Challenge for launching a comprehensive program to help first responders deal with compassion fatigue.
Williams also served as one of only four mayors nationwide on a joint task force of the National League of Cities and National Association of Counties to address the opioid epidemic; has been invited to and participated in several roundtable discussions about the opioid epidemic at the White House; and has served as a presenter at various public and educational forums, including those hosted by the Stanford Addiction Science and Policy Network, the Cross-Border Health Foundation, World Health Innovation Network, Georgetown University, Indiana University and NYU Langone Health.
Under Mayor Williams’ leadership, Huntington’s innovative efforts to fight the opioid epidemic have been highlighted by the BBC, NPR, MSNBC, The New York Times, The Palm Beach Post Gazette, Politico, The Christian Science Monitor, and The Hill. Huntington’s efforts also have been praised by the U.S. Surgeon General and the Director of the Centers for Disease Control.
These transformative efforts resulted in a 41 percent decline in overdoses in Huntington in 2018 compared to the previous year.