Lewis Butts Jr., whose two previous campaigns were weighed down by embarrassment or irrelevance, confirmed to PennLive on Monday that he will again seek the Democratic nomination for Harrisburg mayor.
Butts first announced it last week on a Facebook Live appearance with Ron Chapel, a resident of the city.
Butts, a 54-year-old former government employee whose quixotic, past runs were known for unconventional proposals to help Harrisburg cope with his day-to-day challenges, told PennLive he thinks the experience of being a candidate earlier will help him this time. and he sees the third attempt as an offer of evidence to the voters of his concern for them and their city.
This proven Harrisburg concern is likely to emerge as a central theme in a campaign in which Butts is likely to fight incumbent Mayor Eric Papenfuse and two other challengers, both of whom were registered as Republicans until relatively recently and have not always lived in the City they try to lead.
"That was experience," Butts said Monday of his previous runs, the first of which was marred by an incident in which Butts admitted defacing the Papenfuse campaign signs, and unsolicited publicity for a litany of counts from Driver's licenses all due to failure to pay prior fines.
“But my name is known. They know that I am committed to the community and that I am already vetted, ”he said. "And I'm not a (party) pinball machine," he added in a thinly veiled shot of other mayor hopefuls, David Schankweiler and Otto Banks. The banks are expected to announce a run on Monday evening. Papenfuse has also said he is expecting re-election.
The 2021 area code is planned for May 18. In the current political era, the Democratic Party's nomination has brought a distinct advantage in city races.
Butts finished fourth in a five-person field in 2017, winning 125 votes, or just 2.3 percent of the vote. He finished fourth out of four places in 2013 and only got 64 votes in this primary. Butts also ran for the Harrisburg School Board in 2019, finishing 11th in a Democratic 12-person primary school.
As usual, Butts vows to bring a bunch of great vision ideas to City Hall after 12 years of city guides trying to pay off the debt of another grand vision leader, former Mayor Stephen R. Reed.
Some of the ideas were at the center of Butts' efforts in 2013 and 2017, including:
Implementation of Reed's 1980s vision to build a dam on the Susquehanna River that could generate electricity and revenue for the city. Reed's original proposal would have generated up to 34.4 megawatts of electricity, enough to generate electricity for a large number of homes in the city.
Development of a free communal Wi-Fi service. Butts said he will be investigating state and / or federal grants to develop public, free Wi-Fi across Harrisburg. Not only would this initiative help bridge the digital divide, but it could save many residents hundreds of dollars annually if they chose to turn off their current service.
New this year?
Leverage City Hall – and the city's expanded tax office as part of the current redevelopment plan – to create immediate public works jobs for up to 250 city dwellers hired for dormitory refurbishment, sidewalk repairs, and other quality of life projects. Butts sees this as a direct way to improve employment, reduce poverty and ultimately reduce crime.
Each of these projects would come at a hefty price tag – initial estimates for Reed's dam project were $ 254 million, giving townspeople still recovering from Reed's unfortunate urban burning projects and artifact purchases a break could -open Wild West Museum.
But Butts has said he would first look for public-private partnerships and federal and state sources to make money.
"We have to take advantage of this (state) Capitol," Butts said in an interview with PennLive Friday. "That is what Mayor Reed taught me. He taught me how to go up those steps to get what you need."