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Butterfield says commitment to community was ingrained in her through her mother, Geraldine Dunlap, and her involvement in community banking.
“In local banking they teach you to really support your community because a healthy community is a healthy business is a healthy bank,” she said.
Butterfield was named Stocktonian of the Year in 2013, just like her mother was 20 years before.
Butterfield talked to Business Journal editor Elizabeth Stevens about her devotion to the community, her approach to change and what is planned for the future of the Business Council.
CVBJ: What was it like to start a bank?
Butterfield: It was a tough go just getting business in the door, particularly lending business. It was a very entrepreneurial experience, particularly for a bank. Banks normally are sort of staid and conservative. It was a really good experience coming as an entrepreneur first.
And then the market crashed in late 2008, 2009 and we had some real struggles. Survived them, but we had some real struggles. So, in 2014, we sold.
CVBJ: Is that when you became more involved in politics?
Butterfield: Fritz Grupe called me and said, ‘Jane, you’re retired but you can’t just be out of circulation. You’ve got to do something. I’ve got a job for you.
I ran the (Measure A and B) campaign and learned a lot and really enjoyed it. During that time, the city was going through bankruptcy, and it concerned me that we as a community — particularly a business community — kind of sat back and didn’t know what was happening. We weren’t really engaged in what the City Council or anyone else was doing and kind of shame on us.
CVBJ: How did the Business Council job come about?
Butterfield: I started getting more focused on electing local officials and supporting various individuals that I thought would move the city forward. So, that really got me going. I met a lot of different people and got a sense for what the issues were in the community. Then Fritz called me one day about six months ago, and said, ‘I have a job for you. How about running the Business Council?’ So, that kind of got me to where I am today.
CVBJ: When you’re moving from one industry to another or one kind of job to another, what do you do to get your bearings? How do you teach yourself?
Butterfield: Part of it is just a journey. You get in and observe and figure out what’s been done in the past. Maybe sit back and think (about the) new things you want to do moving forward.
And a lot of it is just rolling up your sleeves. I met with countless individuals in government, introduced myself.
So, a lot of it is just intuitive and being creative. In my mind, you’re sitting back looking at something — and it’s kind of entrepreneurial. You’re saying, ‘OK, here we are. What should we be?’
CVBJ: Can you explain what the Business Council is?
Butterfield: Everybody asks this. The Business Council started a number of years ago, primarily by Fritz Grupe and a handful of other movers in the community, and their idea was that there needed to be a consortium of business owners that could make things happen on a much bigger level than was previously happening.
For example, they went out and raised support for Measure K, which was a huge transportation tax that we put into place, that you couldn’t really do if you were an individual organization or even the Chamber; that’s not really their direction.
That’s how it originally started. They did a lot of different studies on how to create a business-friendly environment. How to allow for businesses to thrive in our area.
CVBJ: Tell us about the changes that are coming for the Business Council.
Butterfield: The thing that we’re doing now that’s probably the biggest is trying to get our members a little more engaged. I did a number of different round tables and in general, members of the council just don’t know where they’re adding value. What’s the takeaway? What are you asking me to do? It was consistent in all the groups that I talked to is, ‘We want to participate more in what we’re doing, what our initiatives are as a council. We want to be more engaged in the process.’
So, what we’re going to be doing now is setting up some committees with a focus on things like homelessness. We have one on education, which can be huge. We’ve got one on governance and we have one on crime and one on infrastructure.
We’ve got people who are very experienced in those areas heading them up.
I think in the past we have not tapped the business community has much as we could have. Generally, what has happened is we will back initiatives as they come along and generally a lot of the business community would support them through whatever means, usually monetary. But we’ve never tapped the expertise of our Business Council the way I think maybe we should have.
CVBJ: Are you more optimistic some of these issues can be addresses in a more organized way now that we have a new mayor and council?
Butterfield: Totally. Truthfully. I am so excited about this City Council. I just think it’s one of the top quality councils that I can ever recall.
I think Michael Tubbs — you’ve got somebody who has a lot of energy, creativity, vision. You’ve got council members, like Susan Lenz, who’s a CPA who can handle the financial side of it.
You’ve got good working council people in the other areas that have already been on the council that are continuing. And they all seem to be very cohesive.