In the Athens City Council race for the First Ward, we recommend the election of incumbent Democratic council member Kent Butler.
Butler is a hardworking, community-minded council member with keen recognition of the assets and needs of the West Side (which the city’s First Ward covers) and the city at large.
Running against Butler in this sole contested ward race is Brian Cristi, an Independent. While Cristi has advanced some interesting ideas for the First Ward, he hasn’t made an adequate case for why Butler should be replaced. And one of his answers during a meet-the-candidate event earlier this month betrayed a misunderstanding of the city’s role and purpose.
Asked how the city of Athens can cut spending, Cristi suggested redirecting millions of dollars allocated to a new city pool to addressing food insecurity in Athens County. Aside from the fact that the pool project is already well under way, with ample money already spend on planning and construction, it’s not likely that Athens City Council would funnel millions of dollars into feeding people outside the city limits.
Butler, meanwhile, gave a refreshing answer for an elected official: He said he wouldn’t cut the city’s budget since it’s already severely constrained by cuts in state money.
Butler also provided solid, common-sense perspectives on other city issues, identifying areas that need attention on the West Side. This includes aging infrastructure (this is a bigger problem in the First Ward than other parts of the city), a lack of economic opportunities (perhaps linked to OU’s planned expansion along West Union Street), and a lack of affordable housing on the West Side and elsewhere in the city.
With Kent Butler, forgive us for trotting out a cliché, but it’s one that applies in this case: There’s no need to fix what’s not broken.
We support Athens First Ward residents re-electing Kent Butler to City Council.