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'Tenacity' Puts Hunter Back into Council Race

Barrington M. Salmon | , WI Staff Writer | 3/29/2012, 3:06 p.m.

Preston, a senior program analyst and Retired Command Sgt. Major in the Army National Guard, said McDuffie is stable, has an impressive background, understands the legislative process and has worked hard for his community.

"He has served in this community as president of the Stronghold Civic Association, he's married and is helping raise two kids. Even though he went to a rival school, I won't hold that against him," said Preston with a hearty laugh about the Roosevelt-Wilson high school rivalry.

Preston acknowledges that "this will be a tough race because both are really strong candidates," but whoever wins will have to be the council member for all of the residents, not just those who supported the winner, he said.

Hunter said his independence will serve him well in city hall if voters trust him to serve them.

"What separates me from many challengers is that I've never served at the pleasure of the mayor. I've never been shy of taking stances that may be confrontational. I am not afraid. It's important to have representatives not [willing] to cave to conventional wisdom or political expediency."

Hunter said he is no stranger to hard work and cites stints as a community organizer, and running truancy, ex-offender and job training programs as evidence of his time spent in the "trenches" while trying to make a discernible difference in the lives of residents most in need of advice, support and direction.

"I have a sincere desire to be of service and to be a council member which would put me in a position of service. When you look at elected leaders, they don't seem to have that perspective," he said.

Hunter, who has two older sisters and a younger brother, acknowledges the complexity of the job, particularly with the wide range of issues and sometimes competing demands of constituents.

"Ward 5 is a very diverse community and for many residents of the ward [the focus is on] how to [achieve] a decent quality of life," he said. "We have baby boomers and older residents who are most concerned about a visible police presence, city services and making sure the alleys are clear. Trinidad is a working-class community where residents are very concerned about job opportunities and affordable housing. It's also about a police presence and driving out drugs."

"Eckington and Bloomingdale are changing rapidly and resident's concerns are centered around retail amenities, transportation and parking. My vision is to use legislative oversight and constituent services to ensure that ward residents get what they want and need."

The ward has seen discernible change in the last several years, with an influx of white and Latino residents. That has sparked increasing anxiety among segments of the black community who are concerned about being forced out of their neighborhoods they love by high-priced real estate and spiraling property taxes.

"Changing demographics are a real concern," Hunter said. "I have friends and family who have been pushed to Howard and Calvert counties to find a good quality of life. My father was a carpenter and my [mother] a stay-at-home mom. They would not be able to maintain their quality of life under these circumstances."