Hardemon talks people, politics and plans for Dist. 5

Youngest commissioner since the switch to single-member districts

D. Kevin McNeir | 12/5/2013, 9 a.m.
Liberty City-born Keon Hardemon, 30, has 10 days until he officially settles into his new City Hall office as the ...

First on the agenda: A bigger vision

Hardemon says he faced many naysayers when he first expressed interest in running for city commissioner. But he adds that he refused to let anyone define his destiny.

“I was raised in Scott projects and was raised by a single parent and saw my father, who is incarcerated, twice,” he said. “In that environment either you learned to be tough or you were broken. It was hard to see beyond the limited view of our community. And there weren’t many Black role models that were doing positive things. FAMU was the first time I saw Black men in suits or heard about professional Black men who traveled the world because of their wisdom and views. To taste and touch something like that influenced me greatly. I’d like to think that I’m an inspiration to other young Black men and women who have faced or will face similar hurdles and pitfall as I have. I’m no different from them.”

“What troubles me most and what’s at the top of my list for District 5 is crime. The number of Blacks dying, and not from natural causes, but rather from gun violence, has reached epidemic proportions. I think there’s a relation between the shootings and the unemployment rate for the District. When people can’t provide for their families, they’ll do just about anything. That’s what landed my father in jail. Blacks in Miami are already a minority. And with the rise of the Hispanic population, we Blacks, especially those who are educated and experienced, are a dying breed. Political leaders must begin to work with our community in a team effort to bring business opportunities while at the same timing developing a stronger Black voice. I don’t want to put on the show of ‘politricks.’ Reducing crime, bringing more jobs and improving living conditions are what we need to address in District 5. And instead of bringing some master plan that will prove to be ineffective, my strategy is looking at these problems like they’re an elephant and chopping them down one step at a time. People should not be living in Miami in conditions worse than in some Third World countries. For the next eight years, I’m committed to making a real difference — this is and always has been my community too.”