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It’s been a wild few weeks for Gwinnett County (Ga.) Commissioner Tommy Hunter. Hunter, who was elected into office in 2012, is in hot water for a series of Facebook rants on various issues. The most recent rant involved Commissioner Hunter taking to Facebook to respond to Ga. Congressman John Lewis stating Donald Trump is an illegitimate President. Commissioner Hunter weighed in calling Congressman Lewis, a renowned civil rights leader, a “racist pig”.
Gwinnett Co. Commissioner Tommy Hunter on Facebook
Commissioner Hunter also said, “So, true to exactly what the political pundits said would happen, he makes the claim that Trump, and all of us that voted for him, are illegitimate” — “Therefore I claim [Lewis] is illegitimate and make just as many unsubstantiated claims as [Trump] does. After all, in today’s world, it’s not about the evidence, but the seriousness of the charges.”
After telling his Facebook friends/followers, “If you’re easily offended and looking for a ‘safe place’ my page ain’t it.. Move along snowflake.”, Hunter then made yet another post, tying up his sentiments up in a bow by quoting Dr. Martin Luther King (on MLK Day), saying “Remember it’s the content of your character, not the color of your skin that matter. Someday, hopefully that will become reality.”
After his diatribes got attention from the media including an article by the Atlanta Journal Constitution , Hunter walked back his statements by saying his comments were “probably an overreaction out of aggravation”. He also apparently changed the privacy settings on his Facebook page so most of his posts cannot be viewed if you are not on his friends list.
Although this latest rant certainly gathered the most attention, this isn’t the first time in the past couple weeks that Commissioner Hunter has shown his teeth via Facebook. Less than two weeks ago, Commissioner Hunter mocked Ga. Governor Nathan Deal for issuing a state of emergency ahead of a snow storm that was approaching the Georgia area; a storm that resulted in snow and ice that, although turned out to be less severe than originally anticipated, did cause one death in the Atlanta area.
It wasn’t Hunter’s original statement regarding the issuance of a state of emergency by Gov. Deal that drew the negative attention from many citizens (he’s entitled to his opinion). The issue many had was with Commissioner Hunter’s dismissive and seemingly pompous attitude when responding to comments from people in the comment feed. Some highlights from the exchanges are below.
Here is my take on all of this. First, I’ll address Commissioner Hunter’s statements regarding Governer Deal’s issuance of a state of an emergency in Georgia in the days leading up to the January 7 snowstorm that impacted many parts of Georgia. I will address this as someone who spent the better part of a decade in the field of public safety, both as an EMT and a Firefighter. First of all, I will say that I get it…I get that there is irony in the fact that a state of emergency was issued for what turned out to be a snowstorm that was not as severe as expected. Saturday Night Live, and even Georgians including myself have joked that we overreact at the mere thought that there might be snow and ice. That being said, Commissioner Hunter seems to miss the bigger picture when it comes to emergency planning. When planning is made for emergencies, leaders who specialize in public safety do not plan based on what will most likely happen, they plan on what CAN happen. The same goes for the first responders who are, in turn, at the mercy of those officials who allocate funds and resources for them to use to help the public if and when that emergency happens.
Here’s a point in case (from my perspective and experience as a first responder): if 911 dispatch alerts the fire department that there is report of a vehicle accident with victims trapped in the vehicle and the vehicle is on fire, the fire department has a designated amount (and variety) of resources they send to the scene. They are likely to send a standard fire engine (to suppress any fire), a ladder truck (equipped with the jaws of life) to free any trapped victims, a Battalion Chief to manage the scene, and any number of ambulances. Now, when all those pieces of equipment and personnel arrive on scene and it turns out the accident is relatively minor with no victims trapped and no fire, we as emergency responders do not take to social media to gripe about and mock the decision to send those allocated resources, because we were logically aware of how severe the emergency COULD have been.
When I conveyed my concerns to Commissioner Hunter, both as a resident of the Gwinnett County district he represents and as a former first responder, he said this. “You don’t know what I have expertise and knowledge of or in. There are over 1,000 public safety professionals who answer to me as a commissioner. Look at how we [Gwinnett Co.] reacted and you’ll know how responsible governments react.” A couple things to that: first of all, I do know what you have “expertise” and “knowledge” in, at least in an official capacity, because it’s listed in your bio on Gwinnett County’s website. Furthermore, since we’re on the topic of Mr. Hunter’s experience and knowledge, I’ll say this; I can assure you that Commisioner Hunter has never experienced what those public safety professionals that “answer to him” have experienced when they have to put their skills to use. I can assure you that he hasn’t done CPR on the lifeless body of a child who experienced an “unlikely” emergency that doesn’t happen often. I can assure you that Commissioner Hunter didn’t have to console the family of the young man killed after hitting black ice in the storm that he mocked as being a pathetic excuse for an emergency. Secondly, although the commissioner may be a distant link in the chain of command of those 1,000 public safety professionals, I assure you that not 1 of those professionals takes Commissioner Hunter’s opinion into a account when preparing for or responding to an emergency. Not 1 of those professionals gripe over the decision of any responsible leader to make resources available that can save lives. Why don’t they? Because they’re professional.
Now, as for my response to Hunter’s most recent diatribe calling Congressman John Lewis a “racist pig” as a response to Lewis saying President-elect Trump is an “illegitimate president”. My thoughts on this are both simple and complex. I am not a conservative. I did not vote for Trump. Honestly, I’m not really a fan of him at all. I don’t feel Mr. Trump has displayed himself as “presidential”, which is putting it lightly. That being said, I am not a liberal either. I have long taken issue with many of the habitually hypocritical actions and words of a number of those on the left.
There have been many times where talking heads and leaders on the left have fought divisiveness with only more divisiveness, they have criticized those on the right for making unsubstantiated claims by making equally unsubstantiated claims. However, that is absolutely what Commissioner Hunter did in his comments about Congressman Lewis. He met divisiveness with divisiveness. He met what he perceived as hate with more hate. He even admitted he was doing so: “So, true to exactly what the political pundits said would happen, he makes the claim that Trump, and all of us that voted for him, are illegitimate,” — “Therefore I claim [Lewis] is illegitimate and make just as many unsubstantiated claims as [Trump] does. After all, in today’s world, it’s not about the evidence, but the seriousness of the charges.” — Really? First off, you don’t win an intellectual duel by doing exactly what you’re criticizing your opponent for doing, and then admit you’re doing so. Secondly, calling President-elect Trump “illegitimate” doesn’t make Congressman Lewis a racist any more than me calling Hillary Clinton “corrupt” makes me a sexist. It's also fair to say that “racist” isn’t the first thing that comes to mind when I (or any logical person) heard what Lewis said.
Commissioner Hunter wrapped up his statements (on MLK Day) by saying probably the most ironic thing he could possibly have said given the context of everything he said prior. He wrote, “Remember it’s the content of your character, not the color of your skin that matter. Someday, hopefully that will become reality.” (an obvious jab at Lewis’ character). Really, Mr. Hunter? If the conduct of Commissioner Hunter is the measure of someone with good character, then Congressman Lewis will no doubt take that as a shining compliment.
- Commissioner Hunter can be reached by email at [email protected], or by phone: 770–822–7003.
- The Chairman of the Board of Commissioners can be reached by email at [email protected], or by phone: 770–822–7010.