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Interview with Richard Guthman, May 22, 2008

Richard B. Russell Library for Political Research and Studies, University of Georgia
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00:00:07 - Interview introduction

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Partial Transcript: Hello. I’m Bob Short and this is “Reflections on Georgia Politics”.

Segment Synopsis: Bob Short starts off the interview by introducing Richard Guthman.

00:00:46 - Early life / Introduction to politics

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Partial Transcript: Well, before we get into your political career, Richard, tell us about yourself and how you became interested in politics.

Segment Synopsis: Guthman talks about his childhood in Atlanta and his education. He also talks about how he was encouraged to run for the state legislature, and that was his first exposure to elective politics. Guthman explains how he got elected to the Atlanta City Council.

Keywords: Board of Aldermen; Cornell; Everett Millikin; Georgia Tech; Republican Party; Richard Freeman; Rodney Cook; US Army; city charter

00:06:55 - Political philosophy

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Partial Transcript: If you don’t mind, let me ask you this question. How would you define your political philosophy?

Segment Synopsis: Guthman explains his political philosophy and ideals.

Keywords: conservatism; government; ideas; opinion; philosophy; politics; public health; republicanism

00:08:14 - City council / Maynard Jackson

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Partial Transcript: So in 1974 after defeating Mr. Millikin, you went down to the City Hall...

Segment Synopsis: Guthman talks about joining the City Council. He talks about the lack of bipartisanship in the Council, and how the Council worked. Guthman also talks about Maynard Jackson.

Keywords: Atlanta; City Council; Maynard Jackson; bipartisanship; budget; charter; city hall; committee; demographics; equal; issue; legislature; mayor; race; turmoil

00:16:48 - Successes

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Partial Transcript: You always impressed me as a public servant who is forever brimming with new ideas on how Atlanta could improve its government.

Segment Synopsis: Guthman mentions his major accomplishments in the financial area of government. He talks about child care, MARTA, and development.

Keywords: Martin Luther King Sr; child care; city charter; contract; development committee; finance committee; minorities; public servant; services; successes

00:22:48 - MARTA

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Partial Transcript: Let’s talk for a minute about MARTA.

Segment Synopsis: Guthman talks about the development of MARTA. He mentions how hard he worked to get MARTA in certain districts. Guthman also talks about why Cobb County, Gwinnett County, and Clayton County opted out of MARTA.

Keywords: Clayton County; Cobb County; Gwinnett County; I-75; I-85; MARTA; Sam Massell; committee; development

00:27:52 - Downtown Connector / 400

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Partial Transcript: While we’re on the subject of transportation, let me ask you this question.

Segment Synopsis: Guthman gives his opinion on the Downtown Connector. He later talks about his involvement in the extension of Georgia 400.

Keywords: MARTA; Morningside; North Avenue; downtown connector; extension; interstate system; rail line; toll road; transportation committee

00:34:38 - Andrew Young

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Partial Transcript: Atlanta's Mayors played musical chairs for several years there. Mayor Jackson was in office for eight years and he was succeeded by Andrew Young.

Segment Synopsis: Guthman reflects on Andrew Young and his time as Mayor. Guthman also talks about Young's involvement in the Atlanta Olympics.

Keywords: Andrew Young; Georgia Tech; Olympics; design; executive officer; mayor

00:38:21 - Turnover in Atlanta City Council

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Partial Transcript: Richard, you were there for what, 14 years?

Segment Synopsis: Guthman talks about the turnover in the Atlanta City Council. There were more black councilmen getting elected. Guthman also talks about the leaders of the City Council.

Keywords: Buddy Folks; Ira Jackson; Wyche Fowler; city council; council; leaders; race; turn over

00:40:20 - Atlanta airport

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Partial Transcript: In the history of Atlanta’s growth, one of the outstanding things has been the Atlanta Airport.

Segment Synopsis: Guthman talks about the development of the Atlanta Airport. He talks about the difficulties that occurred in the building of the airport.

Keywords: Bill Hartsfield; George Barry; Hertz; Ira Jackson; Maynard Jackson; contracts; development; minority business; race track; rental cars; terminal; transportation

00:48:20 - Future problems in City government

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Partial Transcript: For a while there, Atlanta went through a serious time of urban flight.

Segment Synopsis: Guthman talks about the pressures of the city government with the influx of people moving into Atlanta. He also explains why so many people moved out of the city, and he explains why people are moving back in.

Keywords: Buckhead; Midtown; counties; growth; race; school system; taxes; transportation; urban flight

00:54:06 - Shape of Atlanta's city government

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Partial Transcript: So, by and large, you think Atlanta city government’s in good shape?

Segment Synopsis: Guthman talks about the challenges in Atlanta's City Government. He does mention how Atlanta is a good city, and Atlanta has the room to expand in all directions.

Keywords: Macon, Ga.; Sandy Springs; challenges; crisis; development; diversity; duplication; expansion; land; local governments; services; size; tax payers

01:02:28 - Party politics / Voter registration

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Partial Transcript: Richard, for a hundred years in Georgia, in order to be successful in politics, you had to be a Democrat.

Segment Synopsis: Guthman talks about why he chose to be a Republican in a Democratic Georgia. Guthman later shares his opinions on party registration in primary elections.

Keywords: Bert Lance; Democrat; Georgia Republican Party; Republican; Rise of the Republican Party; legacy; minorities; party registration; party switchers; political philosophy; primary elections

01:11:40 - Republican candidates / 1966 Gubernatorial Race

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Partial Transcript: Do you remember the first Republican statewide candidate?

Segment Synopsis: Guthman and Short talk about the first Republican politicians who ran in statewide elections. Guthman and Short discuss the 1966 Gubernatorial election.

Keywords: 1966; Bo Callaway; Ellis Arnall; Jimmy Carter; Lester Maddox; Rodney Cook; write-in

01:16:51 - Career in Republican Party

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Partial Transcript: So now let’s get back, if you will, to your career in the Republican Party.

Segment Synopsis: Guthman picks out some leaders of the Republican Party. He later talks about the rise of the Republican party.

Keywords: Paul Coverdell; Republican; Wyche Fowler; demographics; leadership; liberal politics; switch; voting

01:25:15 - Rise of the Republican Party in Georgia

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Partial Transcript: Georgia was the last state in what we consider the Deep South to allow the Republican Party to become a majority.

Segment Synopsis: Guthman talks about why Georgia became Republican when it did. Guthman also mentions how the Republican party selects really good candidates for office.

Keywords: Eisenhower; JFK; MLK; Republican Party; candidate school; deep south; majority party; race

01:35:57 - Successes / Disappointments / Closing remarks

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Partial Transcript: Richard, you’ve had a wonderful career.

Segment Synopsis: Guthman talks about his successes and his disappointments. Guthman also makes some closing remarks such as his desire to run for mayor and how he would like to be remembered.

Keywords: Fulton County; MARTA; National League of Cities; city council; desegregation; disappointments; finance; governor; remembrance; successes