The District’s first 2018 Democratic mayoral candidate wants to “put people first.”
James Butler, who won the 5D03 Advisory Neighborhood Commissioner seat about a year ago, now has his eye on a much higher throne.
The 15-year D.C. resident and former lawyer this month became the first Democrat to announce his candidacy for the city’s upcoming 2018 mayoral election.
He will run on the slogan “people first,” vowing to put resident’s priorities over developers, corporations and other special interests.
“To the millennial that believes he might never be able to stay in the city, works for a nonprofit, has four roommates, we hear you and this administration will work tirelessly for you,” Butler said at his Sept. 15 campaign launch party at a Northeast hardware store. “To the senior who is in her house and occasionally hears the gunshots and sees the drug deals, we hear you and will work tirelessly for you.”
Public safety, education and housing top Butler’s platforms.
Among his proposals: community-style beat policing throughout the city rather than continuously shifting posts, a “stop and shake a hand” program for police to introduce themselves to residents and business owners, vocational programs for at-risk youth, and college prep program for parents of upcoming first-generation college students, increased services to end homelessness and advocating to hold developers responsible for creating more affordable housing.
Butler also said he wants to provide reprieves to senior citizens when they fall behind on parking violations or property taxes.
“I see some very vibrant growth [in the District] and I really want to focus on making sure that everyone can enjoy that vibrant growth,” he said. “We can appreciate that the city is advancing, but one thing that we do know is that some people are getting left behind.”
He said that though he does not intend to “ignore anyone,” addressing basic humanitarian needs will be highest on his agenda.
“Everyone needs in some sense, but we know some needs are a matter of life and death — a roof over your head, whether you eat, whether your kids graduate from high school, those are needs we are going to immediately focus on,” he said.
Butler said his position as a commissioner in the Carver Langston neighborhood, where there are “persistent issues of crime … and public safety,” prepared and inspired him to run for mayor.
“I don’t believe everybody is getting the proper apparatus of safety in this city,” he said. “As mayor, the broad issues will come at you, but I truly believe unless you truly understand those small issues, you can’t truly lead people. Being an ANC commissioner allows you to see problems the ground floor. It allows you to see, from almost a microscopic level, the real issues.”
Butler said he wants to make sure no one gets left behind as the city advances.
“It’s about time public servants realize that they’re public servants,” he said. “[I] will heal the city where it is broken.”