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Why this West Virginia mayor says Trump should set aside party politics

At a Thursday campaign rally in Huntington, West Virginia, President Donald Trump praised Democratic Gov. Jim Justice for deciding to switch parties and become a Republican.

Democrats “can continue their obsession with the Russian hoax or they can serve the interests of the American people,” Trump said after Justice’s announcement. “Try winning at the voting booth.”

But Huntington Mayor Steve Williams, said “labels don’t matter.” What does matter is working together to get the job done, Williams said.

“What’s important is for us to identify a willingness to work together, to make West Virginia a better place to live, work and raise a family,” said Williams, who did not attend Trump’s rally but said he planned to watch the rally on television while taking care of other business at Huntington’s city hall.

Last year, 1,475 people overdosed on drugs in Huntington, West Virginia, a city of 49,000 residents along the Ohio River, according to local health data. In August 2016, 26 people overdosed in four hours, shocking the nation.

When Williams was elected as mayor in 2013, the opioid crisis was already taking hold of the city, with overdoses and drug-related deaths on the rise. In 2014, former drug czar Michael Botticelli visited Huntington to talk to first responders, city leaders and community members and assess what was happening.

Botticelli’s visit inspired Williams to create the Mayor’s Office of Drug Control Policy, which brings together community leaders from law enforcement, public health, social welfare, education, local businesses and more gather to figure out how to help their city recover and rebuild and “to prevent initial drug use and mitigate the public health risks associated with the opioid crisis.”

Watch Williams’ full remarks in the player above.

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