Peter Wright is the newest member of the Homewood City Council following the resignation of Council Member Allan Trippe. The Homewood Star editor Ashley Berkery interviewed councilman Wright to find out how he sees the future of our city.
Q: Peter, tell us a little bit about yourself. What brought you to Homewood and how long have you and your family lived here?
Well, I’m from Tuscaloosa originally. I attended college at Washington and Lee University in Lexington, Virginia and worked in Roanoke, Va., in television news for two years following graduation. I loved it there, but Alabama is home. In fact, after two years in television news in Virginia, I returned to Alabama and worked at WSFA-TV for four years primarily covering state politics in Montgomery. After that experience, I ventured to law school at the University of Alabama in Tuscaloosa, where I grew up and my parents still reside. It was after graduation from law school that I finally made my way to Birmingham to work as an attorney (currently with the firm of Sirote & Permutt, P.C.) and came upon Homewood as a place my wife and I wanted to live. We’ve been here for 16 years now, and it is a perfect fit for us. We have a 7-year-old daughter, McKeever, who is in second grade at Shades Cahaba Elementary, and a 3-year-old son, Oliver, who will soon be following suit. I couldn’t ask for a better place for my family.
Q: Congratulations Peter on your new position with the Homewood City Council. What inspired you to get involved with the council, and what is first on your agenda to tackle?
I’ve always had an interest in trying to perform some type of public service, and I should add that it’s an easy thing to do when you have a deep affection for the community. However, since I’ve been here, my area of Homewood has always been well served and represented by former councilmembers, so there was never a burning desire for me to seek a council position. Then, former council member Allan Trippe stepped down to focus more on his work, and the opportunity presented itself. One thing led to another and to my surprise, here we are. I think my daughter is still the one who is most excited. As for work to do, I want to make sure we as a community stay on the forefront of the Highway 280 expansion and do what we can to protect Homewood’s interests with that project. That is a big deal for Ward 5 that I represent. On a smaller scale, I’m already getting notes and emails about keeping those streets paved and requests for more sidewalks that have been so well received in my neighborhood.
Q: What are some positive changes on the horizon for our community?
One exciting project on the horizon may be a revamping of the Homewood Recreation Center. That building has been around for many years and is in need of some TLC, if not a complete overhaul. Also, the council is currently looking at prospects of extending the popular greenway trail into portions of West Homewood near the Wildwood Shopping Center. There is a lot of enthusiasm connected with greenway projects these days, and we want to make sure that any such extension will be in the best interests of Homewood. Lastly, we have a vibrant downtown shopping district that we want to keep happy, and I hope we can give some attention to improved parking down there.
Q: What do you anticipate being one of your biggest challenges as council member?
The biggest challenge I have right now is just learning the ropes. The other council members have been pretty gracious with helping me, but I have been a bit surprised with the variety of items that come before the council and the work to be done to stay on top of the issues to make sure you make the right decision. I’ve been appointed to the Finance Committee and find the tasks of checking expenditures and safeguarding the tax dollars a bit daunting as well.
Q: Do you have past history with governmental affairs, and if so, explain how you feel your experience will help you in moving forward with your new position on the Homewood City Council.
I don’t really have a past history with governmental affairs other than as a former news reporter that regularly covered state government and city council matters. I have found that experience pretty helpful though, as I feel comfortable in this environment because I have at least been exposed to it before. That is not to say that I’m used to being on the government side of the decision process, however, because I’m not. This is my first opportunity to serve the public in such a manner. So, with that, I’m just planning to put in a little extra time and work hard to make sure I fully understand the issues that come before the council and be extra diligent to try and make good decisions for Ward 5 and the City of Homewood as a whole.