Council Approves Mayor's Office of Drug Control Policy

by Tony Rutherford HuntingtonNews.Net Reporter
Council Approves Mayor's Office of Drug Control Policy
File Photo

Huntington Council has approved a budget revision that will allow the formation of the Mayor's Office of Drug Control Policy while eliminating the position of Constituent Services Liaison.

Jim Johnson, who has served as interim police chief and police chief, will helm the new position which broadens and continues the River to Jail initiative.

Mayor Steve Williams told council the new office will more broadly "attack the drug control problem in the city." He stated that council through the aggressive River to Jail initiative leadership for the new office "has been already prepared." 

The new position will have zero impact on the budget, as it will be federally funded after July 1, 2015. Williams will use funds saved from not hiring a replacement constituent services liaison to pay Johnson until the grant funds take over. 

"I'm asking you to provide the leadership that this region has screamed for, " Williams said, adding the City of Huntington will coordinate "all activities from the communities, neighborhoods, faith groups, schools, hospitals, mental health facilities and treatment facilities." 

Council member Sandra Clements applauded the Mayor for "coming up with the next step" that follows River to Jail. 

Council member Rebecca Thacker thanked Williams for "his out of box" thinking.

Impressed that the new position pays for itself, Council vice chairman Scott Casserta beamed this will help "bring excellence and families back to Huntington."

Council member Rick Simmons stated, "I firmly believe the Mayor's next move on the our drug war is excellent....It will not cost the taxpayers anything and it shows the public that we are taking this very serious...I support the Mayor on this endeavor 100 percent."

Johnson will also serve as Deputy Mayor.