HUNTINGTON, W.Va. — The only West Virginian now sitting on the National League of Cities Board of Directors sees his new role in the representative organization for cities, their leaders and municipal staff as an opportunity.

Huntington Mayor Steve Williams was elected to a two-year term on the Board with more than 50 other city officials from across the U.S. during the 2018 City Summit in Los Angeles, California.

In his view, cities like his in Cabell County are “laboratories of innovation.”

“We have the opportunity to be able to identify sooner what will work, faster what won’t work and quicker how to fix it,” Williams said.

“Then, if we are able to serve as an example, as pilot projects at the local level, then that can then go up to much larger cities in a much more expeditious fashion.”

As an NLC board member, Williams will meet with the other board members in March, June and November to guide the NLC’s strategic directions.

He’s been involved in the organization before now and said he’s learned one thing in that time.

“They really don’t have anything on us,” he said of other cities.

“There’s a great deal of innovation that occurs in West Virginia and we should be able to stand tall and square our shoulders and be proud of what we’re doing.”

Williams took a similar message to West Virginia American Water Company’s Huntington Water System on Wednesday.

The facility was recognized with the 20-Year Director’s Award from the Partnership for Safe Water, a U.S. Environmental Protection Agency initiative.

That award goes to water suppliers that regularly surpass EPA regulatory requirements.

Huntington is the first water system in West Virginia to receive the 20-Year Director’s Award.

“We set standards in Huntington that the rest of the Nation seeks to follow and they’re doing it just once again,” Williams said of the award.

For the National League of Cities, a 15-member nominating committee selected members for the Board of Directors who were confirmed with a vote from the NLC membership in November.

“The National League of Cities Board of Directors serves a critical role in guiding our organization’s priorities and policies,” said Karen Freeman-Wilson, NLC president and mayor of Gary, Indiana.