- Associated Press - Sunday, January 3, 2016

WATERLOO, Iowa (AP) - Quentin Hart is more focused on how to serve his city well than he is on becoming Waterloo’s first black mayor.

The 44-year-old Hart is set to be sworn into office Monday after winning a runoff election last month.

Hart, who served on Waterloo’s city council for the past eight years, said others will have to judge the historical significance of his election.

“I never really realized the significance and I still don’t,” he said. “The only thing I really think about is rolling up my sleeves.”

Hart said he hopes to be remembered as a hard-working, fair mayor who led Waterloo in a positive direction.

Hart’s supporters hope he will be able to unify the city.

Latanya Graves leads the Black Hawk County NAACP chapter and worked with Hart at Hawkeye Community College. She says his election should help bring the city together.

“There’s been such a difference between the north side and the south side and that ongoing feud between east versus west,” Graves said. “Quentin is a person I truly believe can bridge that gap.”

Lifelong Waterloo resident Matt Boyd, who has worked with neighborhood associations in the city, said he notices more enthusiasm about the new mayor.

“There was a movement before the election for neighborhoods to get back involved,” he said. “After the election I saw a lot of excitement that maybe there was going to be something happening because Quentin understands the importance of it.”

Hart, a Democrat, was born in Waterloo and grew up there after his parents moved from Mississippi. His uncle and a cousin both served on Waterloo’s City Council when Hart was younger.

“Little Quentin always wanted to be in charge and be the leader,” Hart’s cousin, Willie Mae Wright, said. “He had that leadership ability but this - him being mayor - was the farthest thing from my mind.”

Hart wants to hire an economic development director for the city, which has a black population of about 16 percent, and plans to use social media and public appearances to share information with residents.

“I’m going to be more of a visible mayor,” he said. “I have an opportunity to inspire people like no other mayor has done.”

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