Though Dorchester Day was celebrated a few weeks ago, Kelly Butts still cannot fathom the outpouring of support she received to become Mayor of Dorchester. “A little tiny party I had at St. Brendan’s and I could not believe how many people came,” she said.
Originally from Milton, Butts lives in St. Brendan’s parish. At 25, she got her first apartment in Dorchester with the intention of returning to her hometown. But she never went back. “I just never left. I love it here,” she said. “Honestly, no place like it.”
Butts, a Dorchester Day Parade Committee member, decided to run at the urging of her friends and was unopposed for a time. “But then Tony Dang threw his hat in the ring, so then it became serious,” she laughed. “[I said] I don’t want to lose!”
Though she has her reservations, Butts would entertain the idea of running again under certain circumstances. “I would rather let somebody else do it. But if nobody was running, I’d do it just to help the parade.”
Butts’s country music night at St. Brendan’s was a big success. Friends and supporters made gift baskets that were raffled off, along with two iPad minis.
Fundraising didn’t stress her out, but the mayor did learn a thing or two along the way.
“I always knew I had good friends, I really did, and I always knew I had a lot of friends,” she said, “but I never realized how many people in my neighborhood would support me for something just like this. It warmed my heart. It really did. It seriously did.”
Butts’s campaign manager, Sally Cahill, created Kelly Crunch, a delicious concoction of Chex mix, pretzels, and M&Ms, all covered with white chocolate. At $2 a pop, Butts made a good amount selling them at meatloaf dinners and bingo nights. Its popularity was such that many Dorchester children received the treats in their Easter baskets.
Though she started her campaign at the end of February, Butts was not crowned mayor until just two weeks before the parade. Out of respect for all that transpired during and in the aftermath of the Boston Marathon bombings, the $10,000 drawing with the election slated for the following day was moved to mid-May.
“When something happens around here, it’s amazing how everybody comes together,” she said. “And for something good as well as something bad.”
Though she has marched with politicians and with countless sports teams through the years with her four kids, this year’s Dot Day Parade experience was different.
“It was so much more than I thought it was gonna be. I didn’t really realize the appreciation that I’d get,” she said. “The response I got all the way down Dot Ave. was amazing. People I didn’t even know!”
Butts continues to be appreciative of her supporters and of the community she lives in.
“In other towns, I really don’t think that they have what we have here,” she noted. “Dorchester is home. Home is where your heart is and that’s where my heart is. It’s just home. That’s the only word I can describe it.”