People Issue

Angela Hunt Looks Back on Eight Years on the Dallas City Council -- and Forward to Her Next Fight

In this week's Dallas Observer we profile 30 of the metro area's most interesting characters, with new portraits of each from local photographer Stanton Stephens. See the entire Dallas Observer People Issue here .

It's an early spring day in Dallas' pretty, tree-lined M Streets, and Angela Hunt is still not running for mayor.

"It doesn't excite me or interest me," she says. "And I don't think I could get elected right now."

It's this kind of honesty that's won Hunt lots of ardent fans during her near-decade on the City Council. Now she's being term-limited out of her seat, and despite loud rumors to the contrary, taking a shot at the top job is clearly out.

So in a rare moment of stillness, with her two young daughters making a joyous din from the other room, Hunt considers just how far she's come. Eight years ago, she was a young lawyer turned neighborhood activist, trying to preserve the lovely architecture of the M Streets from being swallowed up by flabby McMansions. At one point, an opponent of the conservation plan accused Hunt of just trying to pave the way for a City Council run.

She laughed.

"It was the furthest thing from my mind," she says. And then, suddenly, it didn't seem so far-fetched. "It just seemed like you could do a lot on the local level to effect change."

Some of those changes have been profound: helping usher in a new, less vomit-splashed era for Lowest Greenville comes to mind. So does helping make Klyde Warren Park a reality.

"I'm not a sentimental person," Hunt says. "But the first three times I visited that park, my eyes welled up with tears. ... That's the future of Dallas to me."

But there are also plenty of disappointments and lost battles. A recent one comes to mind:

Earlier this year, Hunt helped unearth a document showing that City Manager Mary Suhm had signed a side deal with a gas-drilling company, promising to help the company drill in parkland while publicly assuring the council that the land was off-limits. When Hunt dared to criticize Suhm about it, she was pilloried by her fellow council members.

That's not the fight she's thinking about, though. Not now, anyway.

"I most regret that I wasn't able to secure a living wage for our garbage workers," she says. "Paying them a living wage would have helped them, their families, and made a real difference in their lives. It would have cost a pittance, much less than all the extravagant baubles we regularly throw millions at."

Although she'll soon return to practicing law, Hunt hasn't crossed off someday returning to politics. "If an opportunity arises, I'll certainly consider it," she says. In the meantime, will she be watching the council meetings on TV?

Hunt laughs.


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Anna Merlan
Contact: Anna Merlan