Note: This story appears in the Friday, Nov. 16 newspaper on Page A1. 

Steve Patterson first started attending National League of Cities conferences back in 2015, when he was a city councilman running for Athens mayor.

Now, just three years later, Patterson has become the only official from Ohio on the League’s Board of Directors. The mayor will serve a two-year stint on the board.

The National League of Cities is an advocacy group of public officials representing municipalities throughout the United States. The group’s stated goal is to strengthen and promote cities as cities of opportunities, leadership and governance.

Members advocate on topics such as clean energy, sustainability plans, combatting the opioid crisis and bringing government control back to the local level. The NLC also provides resources to city officials such as information on how to prepare for the 2020 Census.

Patterson previously served on NLC’s University Communities Council and is also currently on the League’s Public Safety and Crime Prevention Committee, which deals with crime-related issues such as gun control and domestic terrorism.

Patterson said being chosen for the position on the board of directors is “quite an honor.” He said he views his position on the board also as a way to further spread notoriety of Athens and what it can offer around the country.

“I’m representing Athens and Appalachian Ohio so it’s really elevating the level of recognition about Athens,” he said. “I’m constantly talking up Athens, getting people interested in coming as well as Ohio University. To come and visit, also to come and go to school here, and so I’m basically an ambassador from the city to the NLC.”

He said another benefit in his continued attendance and engagement with the organization is through his networking with other mayors, council members and representatives and learning about positive things they are enacting in their communities which possibly could be beneficially implemented in Athens.

“So it’s kind of a give and take,” Patterson said. “I’m learning a lot, and implementing some of the things that I learned there here in Athens, but also, again being the steward of Athens, letting people know what our story is.”

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