When her twin boys, Lucas and Scholl, were gearing up to go into preschool, Allison Wright and her husband already knew they wanted their boys to go to Clarke County’s public schools after going to public schools themselves.
“That’s how you learn about being in the real world with real people and the diversity that comes from it,” Wright said. “When you live in diversity, then you have a mind that everybody’s equal and they should be treated equal.”
Wright went to public school in Lexington, Kentucky, where she served customers in her father’s restaurant while growing up. She attributes her upbringing to her support of anti-discrimination ordinances and frugal approach to spending as Athens-Clarke County’s District 4 commissioner.
As she approaches the end of her second term as commissioner, Wright said there’s still much work left on the North Athens Downtown Development project and projects funded by the Special Purpose Local Option Sales Tax.
If reelected, Wright said she plans to continue her efforts to improve housing options, expand transit services and protect the community’s health and safety.
“Living in diversity, you realize that people are people. I think that if you were not raised in diversity and you weren’t comfortable being around people who weren’t like you, it can interfere with your ability for acceptance,” Wright said.
If reelected, Wright said she wants to refine Athens’ anti-discrimination ordinances to make reporting discrimination across the county easier by installing a kiosk downtown for people to report cases of discrimination.
She wants to look into expanding the power of these ordinances beyond alcohol licensing by examining current laws and looking at similar ordinances from other counties. Wright said fighting discrimination is an issue of health and safety.
Wright voted for an alcohol licensing ordinance to prohibit discrimination in bars in downtown Athens in 2016 after University of Georgia students approached her with documentation of discrimination at bars in downtown Athens.
“I try to feel like I know what’s going on, but I can’t know exactly what’s going on for an African American,” Wright said. “I’m not afraid to be quiet so the person who really does know it can say what needs to be said.”
Wright said she plans to expand ACC Transit by extending existing bus routes, lowering transit fares by increasing the number of bus riders and making the buses start earlier in the day. She said she wants to add a bus stop at Charlie Norwood Veterans Affairs Medical Center.
Wright said she supports fare-free transit for senior citizens, children and other people but not for the general public. She said this would increase costs to a point where transit couldn’t serve as many people because the government would lose income.
“Nothing is free, somebody has got to pay for it,” Wright said.
Wright said her belief that commissioners should be “guardians of the public’s money and resources” comes from her upbringing. She said her family was frugal with the little money that came into their house. As the middle of five children, Wright said she made her own clothes as a child.
Wright said she will work to improve residents’ access to affordable housing, citing her insistence for funds to construct affordable housing in the North Athens Downtown Development Project. Wright also said she supports efforts to ban student housing complexes in the national Downtown Athens Historic District.
Wright serves on six committees, including the Audit Committee and the Board of Health. She also chairs the Legislative Review Committee, where she works to review and update the county’s ordinances and legislation with other commissioners, such as District 9 Commissioner Ovita Thornton.
“You can’t just rush through nothing with Allison. If you’re in a hurry and you’re just trying to rush by, that probably would be bad timing for you and her,” Thornton said. “She wants to go through things with a fine-toothed comb.”
Wright was elected to the Clarke County Board of Education in 2004, where she served until 2012. Thornton said Wright was “ahead of the curve” when she was first elected to the ACC Commission thanks to her time on the Board of Education.
“I think what Allison knows that the average person doesn’t know [is] there are all kinds of things that we got to work through. Just because we have a good idea, [it] doesn’t mean it’s going to happen,” Thornton said.
Wright said her experience as commissioner sets her apart from her challenger, Michael Stapor, a recent UGA graduate.
Wright has served on the Keep Athens-Clarke County Beautiful board of directors since 2013. Executive Director Stacee Farrell said Wright has advocated for the organization more than any commission liaison she has seen. Keep Athens-Clarke County Beautiful’s goal is to promote environmental stewardship and community engagement through its programs and initiatives.
As a commissioner, Wright said she’s learned how to handle and help address citizens’ concerns.
“If it’s important to you, it’s important to me. I have to be dialed into every topic we have,” Wright said. “I don’t mind telling people ‘I don’t know the answer, let me look into that, let us figure it out,’ … but I also don’t mind carrying somebody else’s idea forward.”
Correction: A previous version of this article misstated the grade level Wright's children were entering when she and her husband decided on public school. The Red & Black regrets this error, and it has since been fixed.