Ward 5 Council Race


3-Way Race Emerges for Ward 5 Council Seat

Hunter, McDuffie & Wilds take lead

Kenyan McDuffie, Frank Wilds and Delano Hunter at the Ward 5 candidates’ debate
on March 3rd. Moderator Mark Segraves of WTOP is in the foreground.

Photos by Sierra Suris
Judging by campaign finance records and the results of a recent “straw vote,” the field of Democratic candidates for the Ward 5 council seat is narrowing.Three candidates – Delano Hunter, Kenyan McDuffie and Frank Wilds – are pulling ahead of the rest of the field of Democrat hopefuls. Eleven Democrats, one Independent and one Republican will be on the ballot in a May 15th special election to fill the seat vacated by disgraced former Ward 5 council member Harry Thomas Jr.

In many ways, Mr. Hunter, Mr. McDuffie and Mr. Wilds are more similar than they are different. All three have lived in Ward 5 most of their lives. They all ran and lost in previous primary races against Harry Thomas Jr. In campaign speeches, they stick to familiar themes of jobs, education, economic development, workforce development, ethics, and programs for youth and seniors.

A comparison of the three candidates’ backgrounds, legal troubles, work histories and campaign fund raising reveals differences among them that are more personal than political.


Mr. McDuffie is a native Washingtonian who lives with his wife and two young children in the Stronghold neighborhood of Ward 5 in the same house he grew up in. According to Mr. McDuffie, his grandparents bought the house in 1951 and he purchased it from his parents in 2007.

Mr. Wilds has lived in the Lamond-Riggs neighborhood of Ward 5 for 40 years with his wife. Their grown daughter is employed in the D.C. public school system.

Mr. Hunter is a native Washingtonian who graduated from Spingarn High School. District records show that Mr. Hunter lived at four different Ward 5 addresses in the past two years. He is currently residing on South Dakota Avenue NE.


Since 2010, Mr. Hunter has been sued four times in D.C. Superior Court. Judgments against him were entered in every case. Three of the lawsuits were filed by landlords suing Mr. Hunter for failing to pay his rent. The fourth lawsuit came from Mr. Hunter’s credit card company seeking payment for $3,211 in overdue bills.

Mr. Hunter would not comment on the lawsuits for this article.

No personal lawsuits have been filed against Mr. Wilds or Mr. McDuffie according to D.C. Court records. Mr. Wilds’ business, Metropolitan Service & Maintenance Corporation, was sued twice in D.C. Court a decade ago. Mr. Wilds said the lawsuits arose from minor contract disputes. One case was dismissed and the other was settled.

Referring to Mr. Hunter’s legal troubles, Mr. Wilds said the ability to pay one’s bills was an indication of character. “If you can’t manage your own personal life and your own bills, how can you be council member?” he asked.


Mr. McDuffie is 36 years old. According to his resume, he graduated from Howard University in 2002 and received a law degree from the University of Maryland in 2006. Since then, Mr. McDuffie has worked as a criminal prosecutor in Prince George’s County and a civil rights attorney for the U.S. Department of Justice. Most recently, he worked for the D.C. Deputy Mayor for Public Safety and Justice. Mr. McDuffie resigned from his job in order to run for the Ward 5 Council seat.

To Mr. McDuffie, his government experience sets him apart from the other candidates. “I have dedicated my entire career to public service,” he said.

Mr. Wilds is 68 years old. He is CEO of Metropolitan Service & Maintenance Corp., a company he founded in 1988 that installs bus shelter advertising in Baltimore. According to Mr. Wilds’ resume, he has a Bachelor of Science degree in marketing management.

To Mr. Wilds, the fact that he is a small business owner rather than a career government worker makes him unique. “I am running to serve the people,” he said. “I am not unemployed. I’m not running for a job like some other candidates.”

Mr. Wilds said he considers being council member a full time job but, if elected, he will retain ownership of his business, letting his employees manage it day-to-day. Mr. Wilds said his company operates exclusively in Baltimore so it will not conflict with business before the D.C. Council.

Mr. Hunter would not confirm his age for this article, but he is believed to be approximately 28 years old. According to an online profile of Mr. Hunter, he graduated from Delaware State University in 2006 with a degree in business. He worked for Nike in Oregon for two years before moving back to the District.

In 2008, Mr. Hunter began working with William Shelton at Brookland Manor apartments and at two of Mr. Shelton’s non-profits, Young Men Making Moves and Young Adults Corp. Mr. Shelton was a key member of Mr. Hunter’s 2010 campaign team and is the former chairman of Advisory Neighborhood Commission 5B (ANC 5B).

In January of this year, Mr. Shelton pleaded guilty to federal charges of stealing more than $28,000 from ANC 5B between August 2010 and March 2011. There is no suggestion that Mr. Hunter took part in Mr. Shelton’s theft.

From September 2010 until recently, Mr. Hunter served as chief business development officer for AORE Investments, Inc. According to AORE’s web site, the company is a Maryland real estate firm that helps clients acquire “distressed real estate” in Baltimore from banks, foreclosures and short sales. After acquiring property “at minimal cost,” AORE helps clients rapidly sell the property for a profit. AORE’s name for this strategy is “exploitation of inefficiencies to optimal exits.”

The practice is more commonly known as real estate flipping.

The status of Mr. Hunter’s employment at AORE Investments is unclear. Mr. Hunter was listed on AORE’s web site as a member of its “executive team” until March 11th. After the Ward 5 Heartbeat started asking Mr. Hunter questions about his job, his name and biography were removed from the web site.

AORE Investments did not return calls for comment. Mr. Hunter would not comment on his employment at AORE for this article.


According to campaign finance filings, Mr. McDuffie raised $46,800, the most of any candidate so far in the race. Mr. Hunter and Mr. Wilds both raised approximately $35,000. $10,000 of Mr. Wilds’ campaign funds came from a loan to his campaign from himself.

Campaign contributions have recently come under scrutiny in D.C. as activists and others have questioned candidates’ acceptance of donations from multiple companies (known as LLCs) that are controlled by the same individual. The practice, called bundling, is criticized for allowing candidates and powerful donors to skirt donation limits.

At a candidates debate on March 3rd, Mr. McDuffie said he would not accept bundled donations. A review of his campaign finance filings indicates he has kept his pledge. Mr. McDuffie also said he would not accept donations from Ward 5 strip clubs or medical marijuana facilities.

Mr. Wilds said he is not opposed to candidates accepting bundled donations as long as there is transparency. “My campaign books will be open,” he said.

Mr. Wilds was as good as his word and reviewed his campaign finance filings in detail with the Ward 5 Heartbeat. Mr. Wilds identified $2,500 in bundled donations from Joe Mamo, owner of numerous District gas stations. Mr. Wilds said he has known Mr. Mamo for many years. Like Mr. McDuffie, Mr. Wilds said he would not accept donations from strip clubs or medical marijuana facilities.

Delano Hunter appears to be the only candidate in the Ward 5 race who has received donations from the Stadium Club, a strip club on Queens Chapel Road NE in Ward 5.

At a candidates debate on March 3rd, Mr. Hunter tried to downplay his connection to the Stadium Club, saying he had accepted a single $500 campaign contribution from “that organization.”

A review of Mr. Hunter’s campaign finance filings reveals that Mr. Hunter accepted more than ten times that amount. Mr. Hunter accepted donations from Stadium Club owner Keith Forney, employees of the strip club, and employees and associates of Mr. Forney’s other businesses. Altogether, Mr. Hunter raised at least $5,500 from entities and individuals associated with the Stadium Club or its owner Keith Forney. See profile of Delano Hunter for a breakdown of the $5,500.

Mr. Hunter would not comment on his campaign donations for this article, but supporter Anthony Hood defended Mr. Hunter. “The strip club is a legitimate business in Ward 5,” said Mr. Hood. “Whoever the council member is, at the end of the day they have to represent [the strip club] too.”

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