With close to three decades of community service in various positions, including president of the Vanguard Independent Democratic Association (VIDA), former chairman of the Labor Committee for the Brooklyn NAACP, and shop steward of the TWU Local 100, Butler feels ready for the next step.
“My candidacy is a continuation of the work I have already been doing as a volunteer.”
“My candidacy is a continuation of the work I have already been doing as a volunteer,” Henry Butler explains. “As a city council member you can do even more. With controlling the budget, money is coming to your district to help the community on a day-to-day basis.”
During his tenure with Community Board 3, he was able to secure funds for the renovation of the Nostrand Avenue Corridor, the installation of an elevator at the Utica Avenue Station, and the creation of job fairs and other developments in Brownsville. Halting the rezoning of Bedford-Stuyvesant North and its overdevelopment has been another important fight for him.
“A mother with a stroller or a senior person who needs to take the train can now get on the elevator on Utica Avenue. Those are tangible accomplishments that affect people’s lives on a day to day basis,” the district manager reflects.
Right out of college, Butler, a Bedford Stuyvesant native, begun his community work by running the community center at NYCHA’s Lafayette Gardens. But it was his experience in high school, as a student athlete, that sparked his interest in community affairs. He began to notice how resources were distributed quite differently from neighborhood to neighborhood.
“As a student athlete, I visited different communities and played on their beautiful playgrounds and sports fields, just to come back to my own neighborhood where we played on a dust bowl. I asked myself: ‘How come my place looks like this, and just five miles away they have this beautiful park?’”
“We’re tax payers just like they are on the upper Eastside, just like they are in Brooklyn Heights.”
Ever since then, according to Butler, his mission has been for his district to receive the same services and attention as other communities in the city: “We’re tax payers just like they are on the upper Eastside, just like they are in Brooklyn Heights,” he once told Mayor Mike Bloomberg.
Butler says of his run for city council that, so far, he has received endorsements from City Councilmember Robert Cornegy, State Assemblywoman Tremaine Wright, Former Assemblywoman Annette Robinson and most recently Sate Senator Velmanette Montgomery.
Until the primaries on September 12 and the general election on November 7, Butler still has a lot of work to do. His kick-off fundraising event will take place on Friday, April 29, which will also be his 50th birthday celebration. Outreach is high on his priority list and he intends on searching personal conversations with the voters, going from door to door.
Running for office is very personal to Henry Butler: “You’re asking people to entrust their day to day lives to you, how they go about living in their community, to getting the services and resources in their community.
“If you ask them to vote for you, they should know who you are as a person.”