Eastern Carolina leaders react to Butterfield’s coming retirement

GREENVILLE, N.C. (WITN) – G.K. Butterfield has been an influential leader in North Carolina for decades.

In 2004, he joined the United States House of Representatives. And Thursday, Butterfield announced he will not be running for reelection for his seat in the House and instead, retire from his role next year.

Butterfield says he made the decision in order to “allow the torch to be passed to someone that shares the values of the district.”

He also took aim at congressional redistricting recently passed by the General Assembly’s Republican majority as a reason for not running.

“The map recently enacted by the legislature is a partisan map. It’s racially gerrymandered,” Butterfield said in his announcement video.

What was once a predominantly blue district encompassing the northeastern area of North Carolina (except for the coastal region) has now been redrawn to include the coast. Consequently, the area that has often leaned left is now likely to go the other way.

Still, Eastern Carolina leaders shared their well wishes for the representative in the next chapter of his life.

“We wish him the best of luck, thank him for all of his service,” Greenville Mayor P.J. Connelly said.

North Carolina Representative Kandie Smith said she looks to Butterfield as an example of strong leadership for all residents.

“He’s a historian. He’s not afraid to speak up,” Smith said. “That’s the type of leader that we need and that’s the kind of leader that I try to model myself to be.”

Local leaders have not been quick to throw their hat into the ring for the newly available seat, so the question of who is considering the opportunity remains.

Mayor Connelly, Rep. Smith, and North Carolina Sen. Toby Finch have all confirmed that they will not be considering a run.

The spotlight is now on other local leaders, like North Carolina Sen. Don Davis, who has been speculated to make an announcement to run for the position soon.

Rep. Smith says whoever the replacement is needs to be willing to be a fighter for the people of Eastern North Carolina.

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