BEDFORD-STUYVESANT — Central Brooklyn will have a new councilmember next year, and one of the first candidates to throw his hat in the ring grew up in Bedford-Stuyvesant's Tompkins Houses and currently heads the neighborhood's community board.
Henry Butler, 49, is hoping to fill the 41st Council District seat and replace Councilwoman Darlene Mealy, who has served the area since 2005 and is prevented by term limits from making a re-election bid.
Only a few candidates have expressed interest in the seat so far, including Brooklyn’s 58th New York State Assembly District Leader Cory Provost. Butler, Provost, and other potentials would go head-to-head in the Sept. 12 primaries and the Nov. 7 general election.
The winner would represent portions of eastern Bedford-Stuyvesant, East Flatbush, Crown Heights and Ocean Hill-Brownsville.
In Brownsville, 37 percent of residents live below the federal poverty level, making it the poorest neighborhood in Brooklyn, according to city figures from 2015.
Butler, the current Vanguard Independent Democratic Association president and district manager of Brooklyn's Community Board 3, hopes to address key issues of unemployment, education and community safety in the 41st Council District, he said.
He hopes to boost economic growth by bringing in workforce development programs, as well as helping youth through mentorship initiatives in local schools, he added.
The Bed-Stuy native has worked as CB3 district manager for more than three years and previously held the position of community board chair.
During his time on the board, Butler said he helped the neighborhood receive funding for elevators at the Utica Avenue train station and the reconstruction of Nostrand Avenue, with the help of local elected officials.
He previously worked for the New York City Housing Authority by running a community center in the Lafayette Garden Houses and later worked as a train conductor for the MTA, representing the TWU Local 100 union as a shop steward.
“Running for council is just a continuation of what I’ve already been doing in volunteer positions. Being a councilperson is about bringing up issues in the district, and resources to the district,” Butler said.
“I think what sets me apart from others who may enter the race is that I have a record of accomplishments. We all have fancy titles, but behind my titles is good work that has been done for the community and everyday residents, that affect their quality of living in a positive way.”