Richard N. Wright is a candidate for mayor of Atlanta.
Candidate website: www.wrightforatl.com
What is your current job (include the name of your employer) and list any significant memberships in public service organizations?
Accounting Done Wright CPA
What is the biggest issue facing your constituents and why are you the best candidate to address it?
Systemic Crime and Systemic Poverty. The two go hand and hand. Where you have high poverty, you have high crime rates. I have a comprehensive plan to address both. My plan is called, Equality in Policing. The central paradigm in my plan calls for APD to end the antiquated practice of policing zones and develop District policing. Each district should have a Major that is responsible for that district. Each district is different, and the dynamics of each district is different. By having a Major responsible for each district, we can change the popular equation from protect and serve to prevent and protect. Attacking systemic poverty in Atlanta requires a new voice with a new vision. Currently on 6% percent of the employer firms in Atlanta are African America and we currently make up over 47% of the city. My administration will triple that number in 4 years.
How do you define “affordability” in housing and what is a specific tactic you would use to improve it?
I define affordable as a resident’s rent expense taking up no more than 80% of their after-tax income. Affordable living has several stakeholders with different wants and needs. As Mayor I will create policy using various analytical tools with Porter’s 5 Forces framework model being the main tool used. Porter Five Forces Analysis is a strategic management tool used to analyze industry underlying levers, functions and of profitability in a particular industry. My administration will work with stakeholders in the affordable housing industry to evaluate housing bonds and how they can be used to finance new projects, increasing construction of the “missing middle”, creating a hand up not hand out programs to help residents progress. As a CPA, I have over 15 years of experience in corporate American finance and tax departments, that I can leverage. My admiration will develop a sound strategy for create 16,000 affordable housing units annually.
City Hall has been dogged by an apparently ongoing federal investigation involving accusations of corruption in the previous mayoral administration. How would you help restore public trust on matters of staff spending and contract procurement?
My administration will restore trust by full transparency and communication with the citizens of Atlanta. Communication is transparency. The city of Atlanta doesn’t communicate with stakeholders very well currently. As a CPA with fortune 500 work experience, I am familiar with quarterly reporting. Each quarter public companies issue a 10-Q to stakeholders enunciating how the company performed in that quarterly. As Mayor I will issue a newsletter to each business and citizens of Atlanta. The new letter will contain a quarterly report on material items such as Procurement policy and spending, revenues and general expenditures. The newsletter will also contain a MD&A (Management Discussion and Analysis). City leaders and I need to explain to Atlanta stakeholders our operating results. That’s communication, that’s transparency. Also in the newsletter will be a report card. Atlanta stakeholders need to be able to grade their city leadership quarterly not every four years.
In 2020, Atlanta and the nation experienced two historic events: the COVID-19 pandemic and protests about racial justice and police brutality. What is a public-policy lesson you learned from those events?
I realized that leadership is in short supply in politics. Leadership is an exercise in uncomfortableness and unpopular decision making. I am a leader and as such must speak truth to power. My goal as Mayor is lead in the discussion and policy making around racial justice, COVID 19 and police brutality. Each issue is separate but in a lot of ways overlap. Minorities statistically have fared worst then white America in every category from deaths per capita to percentage of business closures. Systematic racism does exist, and we need to fight for race justice daily. We also need racial honesty too. Atlanta has had 109 homicides in 2021. How many victims where African American? How many of those victims were murdered by another African American? How many of those victims were murdered by APD? As Mayor I will implement policies that will based on racial equality and honesty.
The debate about the location of a public safety training center is an example of longstanding tension over whether Atlanta’s urban planning should be more top-down from corporations and private groups or more bottom-up from communities and neighborhoods. What is your approach to planning processes and is there a specific change you would make?
As Mayor I believe in transparency. That was the biggest issue with the new public safety training center was the lack of transparency. City leadership should have done 6 town halls. That would have allowed Atlanta Police Foundation to fully disclose to the public, all material issues involved in the decision to build the new training facility and where it would be location. If the public had been fully informed the out raged would not have happened. As Mayor I will issue a quarterly report with a material items, events, and capital project that the city is planning. As mayor I will value public input of a variety of issues. Urban Planning should look to get ideas and input from all stakeholders, corporate and community. As Mayor I will look to bring everyone to the table to discuss important issues.
Do you support the Atlanta public safety training center’s location on Key Road in DeKalb County? Why or why not?
Yes I support the Atlanta public safety training center being built on Key Road. The location is outside of Atlanta, the facility is currently being used and a new training center would boast APD and first responders morale. We want and deserve better trained officers and fire fighters. The new facility will accomplish training our first responders in new techniques and develop new skills sets.
Who is the main expert you turn to for information on understanding and addressing crime and what is an important fact you have learned from them?
The first sign of wisdom is the realization that one doesn’t know it all. As Mayor I will consult with Chiefs of Police in varies city, DOJ experts, GA officials and the citizens of Atlanta.
What are some areas of opportunity for the mayor’s office to work in partnership with the Atlanta Public Schools superintendent and board?
As Mayor I will look to work with APS on creating Institutes of learning for APS students to attend after school. As Mayor I will create PPP (Public Private Partnerships) with corporate citizens in Atlanta and around the US, non for profit organizations and Governmental Entities to build and maintain Institutes of learning. One Example is the Katherine B Johnson Institute of Space Travel. The city of Atlanta will partner with Delta, NASA, Blue Origin and non for profits to build a Space Institute for under privileged kids in Atlanta. The institute will have the capacity to serve 1,000 kids from the ages of 10 – 18. As Mayor I will advocate for 9 addition institutes created. One more example is the Joseph L Searles III Investment Banking Institute. The institute is named after a African American pioneer who became the first black floor member and floor broker in the New York Stock Exchange.
Describe how you envision Invest Atlanta operating under your administration. What changes, if any, would you implement?
As Mayor I will create an office of sustainability that will be responsible for most of the duties Invest Atlanta currently does. The city of Atlanta needs an Office that is dedicated to it’s sustainability. As a CPA I understand the important of Urban Development. Affordable housing, minority capital raising and expending opportunities to minorities is central to making Atlanta better and more equitable.
Explain your leadership style and how it would best serve the people of Atlanta.
My leadership style is transformational. I am a leader who inspires people with a vision and then encourages and empowers them to achieve it. We need a Mayor who can motivate and inspire city workers. A transformational leader also put high value into building relationships. As Mayor I will rebuild and cultivate the “Big Four” relationships in Atlanta.
The relationship between the Mayor and the citizens of Altana, between the Mayor and City Council, between the Mayor and APD and the relationship between APD and the citizens. As Mayor I will cultivate each so Atlanta can move forward and become a more productive city.
Anything else that you want to share for voters who may be undecided?
We are in a critical time in the history of Atlanta. We need a leader with a certain skill set to lead us for the next 4 years. Our next Mayor needs to have a financial background. Atlanta has a notorious reputation for miss managing tax payer dollars. Our next Mayor must understand that without addressing systemic poverty we cure systemic crime. Our next Mayor must do more than just talk about transparency, they must have a plan to properly communicate with the stakeholders in Atlanta. I have experience in corporate America. Quarterly reporting to stakeholders is required for a reason. Leaders should communicate with stakeholders frequently. I am a CPA who understands how to appropriate tax dollars correctly. We need a new voice a new vision for the city of Atlanta.
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