When Antonio Hayes went to the July meeting of the Hampden Community Council, it wasn't for the debate on a controversial Baltimore City Council bill to create a Residential Permit Parking Area near the Rotunda mall.
Hayes didn't go to the community council meeting for the election of new board members, either.
Nor did he go because he was invited.
"I just showed up," he said.
He went for one reason: "I heard there was a meeting in Hampden. I figured I had to be there."
For Hayes, plugging in to Hampden will be part of his new role as one of three state delegates representing the 40th legislative district in the General Assembly, if he is elected in November, as expected.
He and Dels. Barbara Robinson and Frank M. Conaway Jr. won the Democratic primary, unseating Del. Shawn Tarrant, who ran fourth. The race was tight between Conaway, Robinson and Tarrant for two of the seats, and Hayes led the field by about 600 votes.
The winners have no Republican opposition in the general election, but Hayes said it would be "presumptuous" to outline his legislative priorities until after the election, because a write-in candidate could yet emerge.
"My number one priority, which isn't legislative, is accountability," said the Mount Vernon resident, 36, who was an assistant deputy mayor under Sheila Dixon and her chief of staff when she was City Council president.
He said he plans to attend a public meeting in each of the 30-40 community associations in the 40th District at least once quarterly.
If elected, Hayes would represent a district that encompasses Park Heights to the north, Ridgely's Delight to the south, Rosemont to the west and Hampden-Woodberry to the east. The 40th overlaps six City Council districts, including Mary Pat Clarke's 14th, Nick Mosby's Seventh and Sharon Green Middleton's Fifth in north Baltimore, Hayes said.
Hayes, who learned about "community engagement" at a young age and remember carrying a "Say No To Drugs" sign as a sixth grader in West Baltimore, said his message of accountability resonated with voters.
"People said they wanted somebody to be there and to listen," he said.
He stood in the doorway of the multipurpose room in the Roosevelt Park Recreation Center for much of the Hampden Community Council meeting July 28, greeting people who recognized him or had heard him being introduced.
He got a taste of one of Hampden's biggest issues, parking.
Over lunch a week later at the Wyman Deli in Remington — not in his district, but near his job as chief of staff for the Department of Social Services — Hayes said there isn't much he can do legislatively to alleviate Hampden's parking problem, other than possibly seeking state funding for a parking garage, if a viable site presents itself.
But he talked broadly about supporting "community development that seeks support of the community."
"It's my job to bring resources to support local issues," he said, stressing that he would champion economic development, as well as mass transit initiatives like the Red Line.
"I'm a Baltimore boy," he said.