HUNTINGTON, W.Va. -- Huntington Mayor Steve Williams says it's time for his city and Charleston to start working together.
Williams has invited Charleston Mayor Danny Jones, Charleston City Council and administration officials to meet with their counterparts in Huntington so they can explore ways to cooperate.
"I was with (Jones) twice last week, and each time we talked about how we can promote good will and cooperation between our cities,'' Williams told The Herald-Dispatch. "It can only lead to accomplishing more together than we've ever been able to do separately.''
Jones said he is considering the invitation, noting that both cities are dealing with issues such as growth and development, pensions and infrastructure.
Earlier this year, the U.S. Office of Management and Budget moved Lincoln and Putnam counties from the Charleston metropolitan statistical area to the Huntington-Ashland, Ky., metro area.
"I'm still not happy that our MSA was cut down and given to Huntington,'' Jones said. "But having said that, if you looked at Huntington and Charleston from Mars, you would see two urban areas with lots of growth in between. Some day, it will look like one big city.''
Williams and Jones became friends when they served together in the West Virginia House of Delegates from 1988 to 1990. Neither mayor sees his city as competing with the other.
"We find ourselves competing against larger cities in the region,'' Williams said. "So why not unite and start acting and marketing ourselves like we are one region with 600,000-plus people? If we do that, our market is similar in size to a Cincinnati, Louisville or Memphis rather than communities that are a fraction of those metro areas.''
Charleston is West Virginia's most populated city, followed by Huntington.