First-term city Councilman Wesley Butler foresees a continued renaissance for downtown Reading, and is eager to help make it happen.
Butler, 20, the youngest person to serve on council in the city’s history, was sworn into office Monday night during a ceremony at Albright College’s McMillan Campus Center.
He won the District 4 seat in November after defeating four-term Councilman Stratton Marmarou, 88, in the May Democratic primary.
Butler, a Kutztown University junior and basketball star, was sworn in by his mother, Magisterial District Judge Tonya A. Butler, while his father and brother, Wynton Butler Sr. and Wynton Butler Jr., held the Bible.
“I was born and raised in Reading,” Wesley Butler said in an interview before the ceremony, “and I just want to help the city grow.”
Butler said one way to do that is to build on downtown developments that draw nonresidents, such as the Santander Arena and Alvernia University’s Reading CollegeTowne.
He also sees the area’s natural resources as major attractions.
“The Schuylkill River, Mount Penn and Neversink Mountain and their trails are a good draw,” he said. “We need to capitalize on that.”
Keeping recreational areas, as well as the downtown, clean and safe is a primary concern, Butler said, noting he would like to see the formation of an entity that could replace services formerly offered by the defunct Downtown Improvement District.
Formed in 1995 to improve the city’s central business district, DID organized a series of downtown events, provided free vehicle escort service and helped keep downtown streets free of litter before council voted at the end of 2020 to discontinue the service.
Although, Butler said he has a lot to learn, he is not intimidated by his youth.
“I am only going to get older,” he said, “and I can’t wait to start this experience. I am doing it for my city.”
Incumbent council members Donna Reed, District 5 representative, and Council President Jeffrey S. Waltman Sr., an at-large member, also were sworn in Monday.
Incoming Councilwoman Brianna Tyson, who represents District 1, was unable to attend the ceremony Monday and will be sworn in during the council meeting Jan. 10.
Source: Berkshire mont