By Chris Lewis | Nov. 26
Frank Butt is hoping to make a big career move.
On Monday the Mayor of Carbonear secured the PC Party nomination for the district of Carbonear-Trinity – Bay de Verde winning it by acclamation.
It pits him against Liberal cabinet minister and party heavyweight Steve Crocker in the next provincial election, which is set to be called sometime between now and August 2021.
Butt said he is running for two major reasons, the first being that he hopes to have a chance to help the district make good on its “unexplored potential.” That includes more promotion for the area.
“We have a lot of natural and human resources here that, right now, I don’t believe we’ve fulfilled our obligation in developing these resources,” Butt said. “Using my own experience as a businessperson and my years in municipal government, I feel I’ve got the ability to bring all this forward. We have to develop our district’s economy, and make this a better place to live, work, and play.”
The other reason Butt cited is what he described as more of a provincial angle. He said the province is going to have to recover a lot of economic ground when COVID-19 is conquered, and now is the time to start looking at the bigger picture.
“Tourism is is a billion-dollar resource. It’s big, but the potential is bigger,” Butt said, adding however that tourism is only a slice of the pie.
Butt said it’s also important to get the fishery back under the province’s control, which could be a big money maker.
“We’re going to need everything we can get to get out of this economic situation that we’ll be in in a couple of years’ time,” Butt said.
Butt said his vision sees the entire province working in unity, but also ensuring that his home district gets the recognition it needs.
Butt has roots in Northern Bay, recalling that when he was growing up, each Sunday his family would make trips out to Northern Bay and beyond. He said he is no stranger to the smaller parts of the district and looks forward to the opportunity to give those smaller communities a bigger voice.
“Essentially, I’ll take the skillset that I’ve gained from my role as mayor, and take it down the shore, take it over to Trinity Bay, and just take it everywhere I can instead of just here in Carbonear,” he said.
In the event the provincial election is called much sooner than the municipal general elections set for September next year, Butt said he would step down for 30-days to campaign provincially. And if he wins, he would have to relinquish the mayor’s chain of office altogether.
That would leave the Deputy Mayor to fill in as mayor until the general council vote in September, he reckoned.
Butt said he is proud of what the Town of Carbonear has accomplished under his leadership. He hopes his work as mayor is a good indicator for people as to the things he can do for the district.
Regardless of whether you’re working in municipal, provincial, or federal politics, a vision of your region’s future is a key part of the job, Butt said.
Among the priorities he hopes to address is the need for better cellular coverage throughout the district. Accidents and emergencies, he said, can happen any time and having cell phone service can be a life saver.
“In 2020, not being able to use your cell phone to make an emergency call is just not really acceptable to me, so that’s one of the things that I would really push for: the expanded use of cell phone coverage in the district,” Butt said.
Another priority is making sure volunteer firefighters in the district have the resources they need, the importance of which he realized from his own 32 years as a volunteer firefighter, Butt said.
“You can have all the equipment you want, but if you’re not outfitted in the proper PPE when fighting a fire, well, that’s a big problem,” he said. “When you break it down to each individual firefighter, if there’s someone walking into a scene in a pair of boots with holes in them, then that’s just not acceptable.”
With the election call looming, Butt said he plans to meet with his team about how best to campaign, raise funds, and generally prepare for the election.
“I think people are pleased with the outcome of what we’ve accomplished so far under this council, and I’ll do the exact same thing for this district if I’m successful,” Butt said.