- Brian Chilson
Name: Doris Wright, Ward 6 City Director
Birthplace: Birthplace: Lake Village
Job: Retired program manager for the Department of Human Services
Volunteer jobs: Founder of and volunteer for the West Central Community Center
Hobbies: Historical research, going to Marvel movies, shopping antique malls
You represent the John Barrow area. What impact have you seen from the area’s rebranding itself as West Central Little Rock?
You don’t even hear the name John Barrow anymore. You hear West Central. West Central doesn’t have the connotation that John Barrow has. I know the history of John Barrow: I know he was a legislator. I know that he and his wife, Katherine, platted that land, and that they sold to African Americans back during a time when people were being lynched. I know all of that, but all anybody else ever associated with that name was crime. Blight. Negative. West Central does not have that connotation, so that means that we have successfully taken back our narrative, and we are able to say who we are.
What kind of changes are you hoping to see under new Mayor Frank Scott?
What I’m hoping to see is that we have a real conversation about race relations. I just want us to have a conversation where we understand that we are different. There are different cultures. People are different. People tend to attack you as a person if they disagree with you, and I don’t understand that. I grew up chopping cotton in Chicot County. I know what it means to work. I know what it means to get that little black bank book and take your money to the bank and put it in there. … How can you disrespect your elders? There’s no respect and there’s no honor.
Mayor Scott has been vocal about figuring out a new structure for at-large directors. What is your opinion on at-large directors? Do they serve a purpose?
I think they serve a purpose because wards can get very territorial, and then you’ve got some at-large people that can come in and work with you, where you can get some things done and move the needle without a lot of infighting because people don’t always get along. But I also think the wards are too large. There are 28,000 people in Ward 6. With 28,000 people, 24 different neighborhoods, 423 streets, that’s a lot. I can see us having an all-ward system with 10 directors.
Are you feeling encouraged by Scott’s taking a strong mayor role? Do you feel it will help you get done the things you want done as a city director?
Yes, I supported the strong-mayor form of government under Mayor Stodola [and] he chose not to [pursue it]. Yes, I think it’s time, and I’m glad that [Scott] has taken his position and the leadership role because that’s what we needed. We needed a person to make the tough call that can state to us as board members, “OK, this is how I want things to flow.” And as I expressed to him, “I know how to lead. I know how to follow, and I know how to get out of the way when it’s necessary.” I’m not a person who’s going to be offended by him taking the leadership role. I may not always agree with the decision that he makes, but he was elected by the people to be able to make those decisions.
What do you feel are some of the most pressing citywide issues?
Some of the issues that I feel are the most pressing are so systemic they can’t be taken care of right away. The perception of how young black males feel and are treated — I don’t know how you change that overnight. There’s a responsibility on each side. I believe in personal responsibility. I believe you need to comport yourself in a way that you’re not going to cause yourself a problem. I want people to be responsible for themselves, but I also want to make sure we have a fair process, a fair system. I don’t want people to feel that they are targeted. I don’t want people to feel that as a result of this targeting, “I’m singled out, and you’re going to treat me worse than you’re going to treat another person that doesn’t look like me.”
In this social media age, what’s your preferred platform, and why?
I’ve got my Instagram. I’m a big New Edition fan, so I’m in the fan club. That’s the only reason I got on social media, and I think I do have a Facebook page, but I don’t do much on it.