Old hands hope to offer city new leadership: Fred Butler
October 8, 2013
By Peter Clark
After 13 years on the Issaquah City Council, Fred Butler says he is ready to lead.
As an avid member of the public, involved in numerous service organizations and regional groups, Butler launched his campaign for mayor early this year. When Mayor Ava Frisinger said she would not seek a fifth term, it came as no surprise that the longtime council president and Sound Transit Board member would seek the position.
“When I retired, I decided to devote my energies to public service,” Butler said. “I’ve been in a leadership position ever since. With this depth and breadth of experience, well, I think I’m ready.”
He worked for 27 years in the Army Corps of Engineers, giving what he believes is an exemplary level of qualification for the position of mayor.
“That gave me the opportunity to command at every level,” he said. “I’m experienced, I’m passionate and I have been the person recommended by business, environmental, labor and recreational groups.”
As for specific strategies to take in office, Butler, 73, expressed a patient approach.
“Typically, I don’t like to make a decision until I have to,” Butler said. “Through collaboration, communication and face-to-face discussion, we can get to what the real issues are.”
However, he made it clear that action must be taken.
“We spend a lot of time and money on planning,” he said about traffic hurdles as well as many other things. “It’s time to take the next step.”
Traffic is something of a personal interest to him. Butler has been involved with traffic problems near and far for a number of years. In Issaquah, he has been adamant about moving forward on strategies to unclog congestion on the city’s roadways.
Butler is emphatic about finding a solution to drugs in the city.
“I would like to see us address the drug problem in Issaquah,” he said. “Heroin has become the drug of choice and we need to get a handle on that. We need to have a community discussion involving all the players to get that problem under control.”
That plan highlights one of his further goals to involve citizens more.
“Outreach to neighborhoods is a worthy goal,” Butler said. “And I would like to see neighborhood-to-neighborhood focus groups. Community is important and so is listening with a view towards what’s on people’s minds.”
It is a tactic he has used in this campaign. By going door to door and meeting with residents, he said he has gained a sense of what the people of Issaquah care about. Though he admits it has been long, hard work, he reiterated his belief that discussion is key for unlocking difficult situations to benefit everyone.
“I believe in collaboration. I believe in common ground,” he said and spoke of his role on the Sound Transit board in negotiating to bring light rail to Bellevue with a unanimous decision. “I would bring those same skills to the office of mayor.”
He would not compare a prospective Butler administration with a Joe Forkner one, instead wishing to trust the public with its decision. He is confident that his qualifications and endorsements create a firm resume for his candidacy.
“You’ll notice that I’ve been endorsed by a number of mayors on the Eastside,” he said. “They understand that I am someone who is true to my word.”
Butler has raised more than $22,000 for his campaign, the most any Issaquah candidate has pulled together for a local campaign in the data available, which goes back to 2000. The list of donors expands across the region. He praised the people that have come together with their time and money to support the possibility of a Butler administration.
“Well, people have been very, very generous,” he said. “I have had the good fortune of working with a lot of different groups.”