By Deborah Bailey,
James Butler’s name is not always on the list of candidates for Mayor of Washington, D.C. He has not been included in some of the debates, interviews and media sources that have provided a voice for the candidates running for mayor of the nation’s capital.
However, Butler is a verified candidate, according to the D.C. Board of Elections.
According to Butler, he is the only official candidate for the D.C. Mayoral election that is not currently either the Mayor or a Council member. He is a former lawyer and Advisory Neighborhood Commissioner (ANC) and ran against Bowser previously in 2018, coming in second place.
Butler said the city needs to “clean house” and he is qualified to be the change that city residents need to transform the pervasive problems that overwhelm some neighborhoods in the city and are a concern for all District residents.
Yet so far, Butler’s campaign, though popular among citizens at the neighborhood level, struggles to gain recognition and exposure.
Although television station WJLA included Butler in their debate on May 23, WAMU radio, one of D.C.’s public broadcasting stations, declined to invite Butler to their debate. Despite including the current Mayor and D.C. Councilmen Robert White (at large) and Trayon White (Ward 8).
In late May, Butler sued Georgetown University and Fox-5 D.C. who declined to invite him to a mayoral debate held. Georgetown University Institute of Politics and Public Service, said that Butler “did not meet the qualifications” established for the debate.
Butler denies Georgetown’s claim. He vows to challenge what he has called the false claims of legitimacy that have kept him out of some campaign circles and address the city’s pressing issues.
“On day one, I will make D.C. one of the safest cities in America and as an ANC, I get the opportunity to see where all the fault lines lie in the city,” Butler said of his priorities for the District of Columbia.
Butler has been a District resident for the past 20 years and currently lives in the Trinidad community. He became an Advisory Neighborhood Commissioner in 2016; Butler believes the current political leadership in the District is complicit in harboring the major problems the city is experiencing right now.
“After eight years, do you feel safer in D.C.? Do you feel D.C. is a more affordable city? Have we tackled our homeless crisis appropriately? Almost every single problem happened under their watch,” Butler recently said in an appearance on WHUR’s The Daily Drum.
“They talk about the problems and they distance themselves,” Butler continued.
Butler, like all the candidates, said that he would make the District’s current record-breaking wave of violent crime a priority.
“Our police force is overburdened,” Butler responded when asked about his plan to reduce violent crime.
According to Butler’s statistics, the current D.C. Police Force has accumulated more than 1 million hours in overtime. He indicated the District could hire 500 additional police officers with the excess funding spent in overtime and would work to make those hires immediately.
Butler said homelessness has reached a crisis level in the District; with residents choosing to live in open-air encampment communities rather than risk living in one of D.C.’s homeless hotels and shelters.
“We spend more money to manage the crisis than we do to end the crisis. We will review how we look at our shelters and transitional housing. We have to end this purgatory of keeping people in these shelters,” Butler said recently on WHUR’s the Daily Drum, one of the forums that allowed Butler an opportunity to air his platform.
“The city owns lots of properties. We will hire the homeless to build them out to provide long term supportive housing,” Butler said.
Butler lost his license to practice law in 2009 after complaints were filed against his firm.
“I was 26 years old when I started my law practice. “When you are in your 20’s are you not the same person that you are in your 40’s. I have run other businesses since that time and oversight is the most important thing,” he said of the lessons he has learned during and after that episode.