Tommy Hunter says he is ready to change the culture of Gwinnett County government if elected to represent District 3 on the Gwinnett County Board of Commissioners.
“I’m running for the Gwinnett County Commission because over the years that I have been involved in politics and decision making in Gwinnett County, I get the impression that government has slowly and steadily got away from understanding who it works for,” he said.
Hunter, who currently represents District 4 on the Gwinnett County Planning Commission, said he has seen firsthand how government tends to get disconnected from what is really happening.
“We’ve got budgets that we have to live by. When we get into a tight situation, we’re not able to go out here and tell our neighbors that they need to come over and fund something that we’d like to keep that we can’t afford,” Hunter said. “We need a government that’s aware of the fact that people are struggling and that taking care of their business and their money should be a top priority.”
Trained as a civil engineer, Hunter was employed by Gwinnett County for eight years as a senior construction manager. During that time, Hunter was deeply involved in several projects involving the county water and sewer system. He believes that experience will serve him well if elected as commissioner since water continues to be a critical issue for Gwinnett County.
In addition to making sure Gwinnett County identifies and has access to adequate water sources for future needs, Hunter also wants to address the county’s transportation issues -- another issue for which he feels his engineering background will be an advantage.
“I think we’d be well served to have someone on the commission seat that actually knows a little bit about that,” he said.
The county’s budget, however, is his top priority.
“I think the government needs to get back to the things we’ve got to do - fund them – and then if we have money left over, we can work on what we want to have,” he said. “But first and foremost, get what we need to have.”
Hunter said as a Gwinnett County employee, he saw how money “flew out the window like it was nothing.”
Now, he says, it is time for government to be responsible and make tough choices.
“I’m sick and tired of government that doesn’t listen to the people that it works for,” he said. “The people are the boss … and they need to listen to us.”
If elected, Hunter vows he will be available to his constituents when it is convenient to them, not just during certain specified hours -- a practice he has adhered to in his capacity as a planning commissioner.
“You can ask anybody that we’ve dealt with. I always tell them, when they thank me for my time, I say you don’t have to thank me for my time, I owe it to you. I work for you and you don’t call and ask me for a meeting, you tell me we’re going to have one and we’ll be there,” he said. “And that’s my philosophy and I think it needs to be taken to the next level so that we can get that kind of government back to the people.”
Hunter believes that culture is possible if elected representatives want it to be that way.
“I’m going to go over there and find out. If we find out that’s not the culture and it will not change, then we’ll have to reevaluate things four years from now,” he said. “But that’s my plan in 2012.”