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Democrat Candidate Issues Message of Hope

The Putnam County Democratic Women held their annual membership meeting on Saturday, May 18, at the Eleanor Town Hall. The featured speaker for the event was Steve Williams, Mayor of Huntington and Democrat candidate for Governor.

Delegate Mike Pushkin, Chair of the West Virginia Democratic Party, gave the opening remarks. He put emphasis upon the strength of the Democrat Party in West Virginia, expressing satisfaction with the crowd that turned out for the meeting and thanking for the invent. “If people tell you about the woes of the Democratic Party in West Virginia or that the Democratic Party is dead in West Virginia, I want you to look around the room and see all these folks gathered here in Eleanor, West Virginia, here in the heart of Putnam County,” Pushkin said. “Rumors of the demise of the Democratic Party are greatly exaggerated.”

Williams began his speech by talking about his upbringing and how it shaped him into who he is today. He moved to Cabell County at the age of sixteen after his father was offered a job in Huntington. He met his wife, Mary, while in high school, although they did not start dating until twenty-three years later.

Williams has a long career in both politics and finance. In 1984, Williams became Huntington’s director of economic development, as well as city manager. From 1987 to 1994, he represented Cabell and Wayne Counties in the West Virginia House of Delegates. In the 1990’s, he became involved in investment banking and investment brokerage. He and his wife Mary moved to Chicago, where he assumed a position in training other stockbrokers. Chicago was quite a change from West Virginia, and Williams was somewhat intimidated at first by his new surroundings and responsibilities, but he soon adapted.

Williams related an incident that happened to him when he was driving from Huntington to Chicago. “I came down to the Skyway that was right at the very foot of Lake Michigan, and I’m going on that over the Dan Ryan Expressway which is on one side, one direction, twelve lanes of traffic. I realized if I don’t punch the accelerator and get in there and just start making my way through, I had to either punch it or pull over. Punch it, get in there, work my way through the traffic, and get to where I need to be.”

Williams discussed the importance of West Virginia’s position in the country, and the state’s ability to compete with other states and even on a global level. “My opponent is talking about a backyard brawl with the other states around us, that we have to be able to compete with these other states,” William said. “I want to compete against Chicago, against New York, against Denver, against London. In order for us to do that, we have to up our game. I found that early on we have the capacity to compete with anyone else, and do you know where I learned it? Right here in Putnam County.”

In the early 1980’s, Williams served as director of the Putnam County Developmental Authority, which was responsible for establishing the industrial park in Fraziers Bottom. He discussed Project Expansion 1982, which served as a showcase of Putnam County. Businesses were invited to come in see the economic opportunities which the county offered, and see comparisons between Putnam and surrounding counties.

Williams emphasized the importance of hope to West Virginia Democrats in a Republican dominated state, as well as the necessity of voter participation in the elections. “Be proud that you are a Democrat,” he told the audience. “They will want to emulate what we are doing. That’s OK. I don’t want to copy what someone else is doing. It comes off nothing but a cheap imitation. We want to be innovative, we want to be aggressive, we want to be relentless. As others around the state see our excitement, they will be drawn to us. Let’s create some excitement around this 2024 campaign.”

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