'Tenacity' Puts Hunter Back into Council Race
Barrington M. Salmon | , WI Staff Writer | 3/29/2012, 3:06 p.m.
Candidate Touts Commitment, Passion for the Ward
When Delano Hunter finished second in the race to succeed former Council member Harry Thomas Jr., in 2010, he tamped down his disappointment and pledged not to disappear.
"It was passion and tenacity that led me to run," he said. "When I ran, I ran against a legend. Usually after candidates lose, they disappear but I dusted myself off."
Hunter, 28, said he became president of his community's civic association, worked at a homeless shelter and closely monitored the ward's ebb and flow.
Being born and raised in the ward has allowed him an intimate picture of what makes it tick. Another benefit has been the opportunity to fashion a vision that he believes will facilitate the transformation the ward sorely needs.
Like one of his political advisors, Hunter sees every problem as an opportunity.
"[Harry] Thomas' downfall has provided opportunities," he said. "For example, what happened has pushed integrity and ethics to the forefront. Folks don't usually ask these questions. [Ethics and campaign finance] bills by Muriel Bowser and Mary Cheh are steps in the right direction."
"D.C. is a young place politically. We have to have these moments. And we have to get back on track. It's [having integrity and honesty] an expectation now."
Hunter recalled meeting an elderly woman while out canvassing who warned him about letting her down.
"She said, 'we're going to give you a chance but if you mess up I'll come to the Wilson Building and beat you myself,'" Hunter said with a laugh.
After Thomas admitted stealing $356,000 of public funds and resigned his post, 15 people jumped in to vie for his seat. The group includes a crowded field of Democrats, one Republican and one independent. Hunter's main adversaries are Kenyan McDuffie and local businessman Frank Wilds.
Ward 5 Advisory Neighborhood Commissioner [ANC] Bob King, who has held the position for 29 years, is effusive in his praise for Hunter.
"Most folks agree that Delano has the best organization, has raised the most money and has perhaps the best vision for the ward," said King during a recent interview. "Delano is ahead of his time. He is pound-for-pound the best candidate in the race. I like his vision. He was cum-laude at Delaware State University, and he did like Obama and came back to the community."
"He understands the ward with respect to education, he's a consensus builder and he's smart. With Vincent Orange at his side, it will be a one-two punch."
However, a fellow ANC member begs to differ. Herman "Rip" Preston, a native Washingtonian and lifelong Ward 5 resident, said Hunter is "a nice guy who has some issues but who has done some things."
"He is a decent candidate but he will lose to Kenyan," said Preston, 63, who lives in the North Michigan section of the ward. "He [Hunter] is another young man I met in the last campaign. He asked to have a conversation with me and we did. He has a bright future."