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f// Thursday, May 3, 2012

Delano Hunter - Candidate Opening Statement


Thank you Commissioner, and thank you C.O.V.E. for this opportunity. I serve as President of Gateway Community Association, so I am a proponent of persons engaging through the civic associations, I like to think that things really get done at the civic association level. I take a tremendous amount of pride in this Ward. I am a graduate of Spingarn High School, a school that is considered a chronically underperforming school, but yet I received a world class education. Conventional wisdom was always you got the job that affords you the most upward mobility and advancement that allows you to make the most money. I had the opportunity to work for NIKE, a Fortune 500 company. There were two kinds of water shed events that really changed my life, one was the election of President Obama, and I thought this is an individual with a tremendous amount of education and experience, he could have chosen any profession, but he chose to serve his country. The other was my little brother, who is at Delaware State had his best friend killed execution style in the Fort Lincoln community; he was like my little brother. These things led me to choose to work with Workforce Development initiatives; I joined my civic association, we took on tasks to fight for new curves and alleys, and they said you should be the President. I ran in 2010, to provide a life to these initiatives, I ran and finished second take tremendous pride in that I am running to serve my community. This is what led me here today; I thank you for this opportunity. Q&A 1. What is your vision for the pace and character of community economic development in light of the changing demographics of Ward 5, particularly in the neighborhoods situated west of the train tracks? I kind of preface it with this, between 2009, afterwards and now 2010, I have had the opportunity to engage 1,000 residents, 1,000 of houses, they kind of have the questions, do I have a place here, and is the government really capable of meeting my needs. Economic development is key, if developed correctly they have the opportunity to do that, with $3 Billion worth of development, we ought to have a lens to evaluate that development, is it appropriate, is it an appropriate level of density for communities, would it provide retail, is it affordable, is it an opportunity to develop inclusionary zoning. We need to assure that economic development does not displace older residents or restrict younger residents from that same quality of life that we have come to enjoy, and does it create jobs. We have to use that lens to evaluate all development east, north of the tracks, its all in our Ward. FOLLOW-UP a. What steps will you take to make sure our seniors dont get displaced? I have had the opportunity to speak with many residents. I was telling Mr. & Mrs. Mosley about a 98 yr. old resident that lives at NY Avenue and Hanover Place; she resided in this community since 1935, now they worry about the cost of living. It is a shocker that senior residents dont get tax abatements, we need to empower seniors to have the ability to age in place, if you work all your life and buy your home, you want to stay there; have home health aide care, this also empowers them to stay in their homes, and we have to make sure they have the best qualified health care services.

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b. What kinds of businesses would you encourage, and conversely, what kinds would you seek to limit or restrict? In terms of encouraging development, clearly Ward 5 is a food desert, when you look at the total amount of residents at 80,000 and divide it among the stores that serve them, the groceries is deficient. Additionally, other amenities such as banks, sit down restaurants; back-in-the-day what suburban retailers would do is to develop right outside of DC so that DC residents would be forced to come to the suburbs for retail shopping and sit down restaurants. As far as restrictive business, its not just about strip clubs and marijuana cultivation centers, its the mere saturation, serious issue of abundance of warehouse space, until we do something its sort of we get the leftovers with developing businesses. c. How do you propose to revitalize our major corridors? One thing, I am a fan of is how to leverage Big Box development and use some of those new tax revenues, for example: Fort Lincoln project COSCO is 300 new units, generates new tax revenue of $630 million in new tax revenues over a 30 year period, I say we can take $ 25 million or so to establish a trust fund for Revitalization funds, its one way to put our money where our mouth is; dedicated to the pool of money to help to develop the Rhode Island Avenue Great Streets, there is no funding, and this is not merely enough, but its a goal to put value to this corridor. 2. How would you advance public safety so that residents (both long term and more recent arrivals) will feel safe in their homes and on the streets without fostering an environment which has the look and feel of a police state? The easy answer would be to say that we need more officers, but the fact of the matter is we need more officers. The City Council made a critical decision to implement a hiring freeze to save money, now our force is down to 390-400 officers; this makes it increasingly more difficult for the Chief to do her job. The many officers that came on board during the crack epidemic, they are winding down toward retirement and we are bringing them on board sort of as consultants. Surely the civic associations, have to get citizens involved, weve about 3700 sworn officers (real concern), but they take time to train and get on the streets; besides monies in the budget have to go into training. Officers take retirement with 66 2/3% of salary. Civic associations have to get involved helping to crack down on crimes, over grown grass, tough, but community should be involved. FOLLOW-UP a. What ideas do you have for reducing juvenile crime and delinquency? Truancy is the gateway to pregnancy. Having run a truancy program of over 60 kids, its easy to see its the pipeline to prison. Many of our students are concerned about safe passage, these bullying situations lead to truancy. The real problem with truancy is it is inhospitable to learning. We need to work on making schools a center of Oasis, when students are bullied, crack down on these things with a zero tolerance on truancy. Alcohol sales and corner stores ought to be held accountable for selling to youth during the school day, which also contributes to truancy. b. What do you propose to do to ease racial tension? In many instances, it is really not about race, it boils down to economics, I was in Michigan Park, I visited a duplex, I went to one side, an older couple who had resided for more than 50 years were concerned about rising cost, right next store another family of the same ethnic group, they were concerned about

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their property value not being high enough, this was basic economics. We have a responsibility for our older neighbors such as tax abatements, and to ensure new residents are not displaced by changing times. c. How will you address the need for substance abuse treatment? Certainly in Ward 5, we have many social services centers that cater to that, there is no silver bullet, one of the things I would focus on is the Faith-based communities, I think when you add the dynamics of spirituality, it reaches people at deeper levels, I say that because I belong to a church, Reid Temple they have a substance abuse ministry that works, as does others, As City Council Member, I would use more faith-based partnership. 3. What will you do to help insure that children in Ward 5, and for that matter, adults who are so inclined and so motivated, have the opportunity to attend quality schools without leaving their community I think that is something loaded. No silver bullets, for instance, we are excited about the three new middle schools that are coming in May, but we have to ask ourselves, why are we in that position they were shut down any way. If you look at how these schools are being opened they really are not traditional schools. They are not general education; we have to have a good balance between the public and charter systems. Concerning adult education we are deficient in the cases of our adult program, drop outs. According to DC Chamber of Commerce, we lost out on $505 million in revenue because DC residents could not qualify for basic level jobs, due to reading and writing deficiencies. I support Community Charter Public Academy that focuses on teaching basic skills. Additionally, we want to focus on students such as those at McKinley who go off and return prepared with the ability to have a larger skill that we have programs to help them to go on get the MS and JD degrees for more competitiveness in the DC job market. Basic skill especially helps competitiveness in this market. FOLLOW-UP a. What is your position on the tension between regular public schools and the public charter school movement? Tension is based upon a lack of communication (no openness) and a lack of vision by the administration, the lack of understanding, no coordination, and residents should have educational options. Charters meet unmet needs that may have a focus on Montessori programs, but we need focuses on general education as well. Schools need to articulate a vision that allows the two systems to coexist. b. What strategies would you implement to prepare our children for college or vocational training beyond secondary school? This has to begin early. I speak from the public school perspective, focused on Langley and McKinley Tech has S.T.E.M. focus and more rigors, I believe this will provide for kids to be better prepared for college. I graduated from Delaware State, but I learned how to cut hair, we have to have options that are not the traditional education. Additional college is not for everyone, there are options, like career technical education.

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4. How do you propose to address the mounting issues of traffic gridlock and walkability in Ward 5, particularly west of the train tracks, especially given the significance of development projects that are either already underway (Rhode Island Row), or planned for the near future (McMillan), inside or just outside the boundaries of our neighborhoods? Terri Bellamy has been very candid to speak of DCs antiquated traffic systems: If you go to any other jurisdiction they have already implemented new systems. DC has ground censors; the Mayoral project like New York Avenue is very difficult. We need systems similar to the example at Connecticut Avenue very expensive and long term. Great projects at Rhode Island Rowe and Monroe, are great examples, but Look at McMillan; I dont know if it has density, we have the opportunity to develop green space. We need to update infrastructure as it relates to transportation and smart development, are key issues to have community input. FOLLOW-UP a. What is your take on the parking space conflict between some of our longstanding traditional churches and some of our newer residents? There is no easy solution. There was an article in Washington Post speaking about the dilemma and the faith-based community, who have opened their churches up and facilities during the week; they have things such as gospel jazz. There is going to have to be tolerance of the neighbors and community engagement. We need tolerance, churches need to be more engaged within their communities and become a living, breathing part of the community. b. What do you believe the city can and should do to increase pedestrian safety for our seniors, especially those whose diminished mobility leave them particularly vulnerable at street crossings? The rising cost of transportation, with Metro increasing its fares on July 1st; transient services such as Metro Access went through the roof @ $7.50, obviously when too expensive to drive, people will walk. As it relates to actual pedestrian safety, I am In favor of Tommy Wells proposal to slow speed limits in community. Traffic monitored by speed cameras, I think we should right size, but they are a deterrent; we dont have the proper amount of traffic cops to make stops like traffic citations. c. What is your position on bike lanes and bike sharrows, and do you have any ideas on managing the seemingly, increasing commercial traffic on our streets? A positive wave of the future, a lot more folk will get out of their cars and take public transportation and walk with gas increases of $4.00 $4.50 a gallon. I think that anything that encourages people to get out of their cars and use other transportation, because clearly this city did not anticipate all these people and cars.

{Audience Questions] a. Would you encourage CVS to keep the store at 4th & Rhode Island after they open at Rhode Island Rowe, in order to serve seniors north of Rhode Island Avenue?

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CVS is in a tough position as a business, with the owners of the Rhode Island Avenue plaza; they are not interested in keeping the store because they are just squatting in waiting for the economy to turn around to do some major project. CVS isnt given a great incentive to stay, unless they are given the space free, with all of the other stores closing. We have to look proactively, fuel shuttle services for commuting seniors from the senior buildings to the new CVS b. What DC City Council Committee would you like to Chair and what changes would you make in the first 100 days? Public Safety, which is in the Committee of the Whole, Economic Development, or Education. In terms of Committees they would be Affordable housing and Workforce Development. Additionally, the Healthcare Committee, we have five hospitals in our Ward, health is a disparity in Ward 5. I would champion the issues of In terms of the first 100 days, prior to implementation of policies that are already in the pipeline: Three middle schools, we cant have this mind set: if you build they will come, we tried that with Kelley Miller, now that school is at 50% in use; being able to champion on local school restructuring team and shepherd for all development coming into the Ward. c. Given the existence of division and tension between different communities within the Ward, how do you plan on uniting all of the citizens? The political process can be a bruiser, at the end of the day our shared interest, trump the individual agendas. Opposition gives mind to confusion. I served on the Redistricting Task Force, Civic Associations, these experiences should be used as a way to involve folk, and take the communal approach to government. I would be willing to use our civic associations to meet and try to bring communities together. d. Since leaving NIKE, have you worked in paid positions, have you learned anything from your own past financial problems? I have worked for Brookland Manor we had some fiduciary responsibility, as Civic Association President, and at NIKE, I managed a budget of a quarter of million dollars, thats something that I do have experience with. My own personal financial issues life are not a crystal stare. My campaign issues have been addressed with agreements with those individuals, like running a small business; you put it all on the line. Thats not something I shy away from. If I had the opportunity to do it all over again, I would have done things a tad differently, I have learned some things; I am made stronger and more cognizant of citizens as a whole. I think these will make me even better a champion for things like affordable housing. e. Presently the Ward has no historical designations, if you are elected would you actively work to develop neighborhood historic preservation? Certainly, we have history with a great deal of charm. Whats basic is, will economic development change the charm. Will smart growth impact other measures to reserve charm, such as inclusionary development. We will have to update our zoning laws; I would be certainly open to that if there is a neighborhood that deserves that designation. f. What are your thoughts on development at McMillan? I have heard from residents; while this development being about these 25.8 acres is massive to the point that a lot of folks have to be at the table, such as Washington Hospital Center and Veterans Hospital, it is more important to include the residents of Stronghold, Bloomingdale and Eckington communities, but I

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would be in favor of a development that has a great deal of green space allocated to recreational space, retail, and a strong housing with work force component focused on attracting teachers, first respondent workers, DC government employees. It is an opportunity for them to reside in this city, DC government employees who tend to live outside of DC, with this being a city-owned property; this is to put our money where our mouth is. g. If elected, how would you reach out to the growing gay and lesbian population, especially on the West of the tracks and address issues impacting the GLA community? I have had the opportunity to entertain questions and learn about the scope and breathe of this concern. Hate crimes and legislation, what we can do at state level similar to some of the things done at the federal level. We need to tone down the rhetoric, tone down biases, and have honest conversations to develop substantive relationships. If fortunate to be elected I can used these to help get beyond some traditional fears. h. What impact will marijuana cultivation centers have on drug treatment plans? Having worked closely with the implementation of the cultivation centers, I have had the opportunity to study to learn more than average citizens have knowledge. I believe that it will have a minimal impact on the community, its about perception, I would have championed a core location so that it would have an limited impact, this is out of the window, but, we need to a keep close eye on the operations, look for Federal direction (the Federal law has regulations to regulate those who are intent on breaking the law), and ensure security plans are followed through. Because its the first time we have had these in our city, in our Ward, we need to keep a firm eye on policing to make sure that there are no frivolities going on with these centers in the community. Closing statement Thank you all community, great job, C.O.V.E., civic leaders, it is amazing to be only eleven days and several hours away from May 15th, I offer myself as an option for service. I understand and want to be a voice on workforce and equality. I did not go back to NIKE because I wanted to see our community change, I have had the opportunity to speak with thousands of residents, whose response is Do I have a place in Ward 5, and fundamentally, will the government hear me. I will identify the needs and address the needs of all of Ward 5 citizens. The District of Columbia has to become a city that is inclusive, with economic development, make a livable space for employees to be residents. I feel really good and will work very hard for our neighbors. Thank you so much for your time.

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