Archive for June, 2012

W Randy Wright to Attend GreenTech Automotive MyCar Electric Vehicle Launch

Randy Wright & Associates President and Gulf Coast Funds Management Board of Directors Member will be attending the MyCar product launch event in Horn Lake, MS.

Norfolk VA & Horn Lake MS, June 30, 2012: RWA President, W. Randy Wright, will be attending the upcoming product launch event for the MyCar electric vehicle from GreenTech Automotive at the Horn Lake Facility. Mr. Wright is a proud member of the Board of Directors of Gulf Coast Funds Management LLC, the Management Company of funds that invest in GreenTech Automotive Inc.

Featured speakers include: The Honorable William J. Clinton, 42nd President of the United States; The Honorable Haley R. Barbour, 63rd Governor of Mississippi; The Honorable Phil Bryant, Governor of Mississippi.

Other distinguished members of the Gulf Coast Funds Management LLC Board of Directors that will be attending with Mr. Wright are: Board Chairman Sudhakar V. Shenoy, Founder, Chairman and CEO of IMC, Inc.; Board Director Kathleen Blanco, Former Governor of the State of Louisiana; Board Director Margret Richardson, Former Commissioner of the Internal Revenue Service; President & CEO Anthony Rodham.

Founded in 2009 by accomplished entrepreneurs Terry McAuliffe and Charles Wang, GreenTech Automotive is a U.S.-based automotive manufacturer dedicated to developing environmentally friendly, energy-efficient vehicles for world-wide distribution. For more information on GreenTech Automotive, visit

Randy Wright & Associates is a development, transportation, and government relations consulting firm focused on public/private finance and land planning. The firm provides a unique range of services to builders, developers, and municipalities by joining together the experience of finance options and government contacts. The consultants at RWA have experience in residential, commercial and urban development projects in Virginia and across the United States. For more information on Randy Wright & Associates, visit

Media and interview requests for W. Randy Wright and Randy Wright & Associates should be directed to JASE Group LLC at for scheduling.


A Heartfelt Thank You From The Father of Light Rail

The Father of Light Rail, RWA President W. Randy Wright, with the Peter G. Decker Jr Downtowner of the Year AwardW. Randy Wright sends a ‘Thank You’ to his family, friends and supporters after being honored as Downtown Norfolk Council’s Peter G. Decker Jr. Downtowner of the Year.

Norfolk, VA, June 29, 2012: Randy Wright & Associates President, W. Randy Wright, was recently honored by the Downtown Norfolk Council as their 2012 Peter G. Decker Jr Downtowner of the Year at the DNC 2012 Annual Meeting in Norfolk VA. Before a crowd of more than 500 Hampton Roads business professionals at the Norfolk Waterside Marriott, Mr. Wright, known as The Father of Light Rail, was presented the award as the first recipient of the Peter G. Decker Jr Downtowner of the Year Award. Mr. Wright was nominated for this distinguished honor by Mr. Peter G. Decker Jr and Mr. Alan Nusbaum, both of which are past honorees of the Downtowner of the Year Award.

“I want to say thanks to the near 600 people who were present this afternoon to celebrate the presentation,” said Randy Wright after the June 27th ceremony. “This was without question one of the most extraordinary honors of my life. I am most humbled to have been selected and deeply touched. My heartfelt thanks to those who came from all over Norfolk. God Bless you and let’s continue to make our City a great one.”

Randy Wright & Associates is a development, transportation, and government relations consulting firm focused on public/private finance and land planning. The firm provides a unique range of services to builders, developers, and municipalities by joining together the experience of finance options and government contacts. The consultants at RWA have experience in residential, commercial and urban development projects in Virginia and across the United States. For more information on Randy Wright & Associates, visit

Media and interview requests for W. Randy Wright and Randy Wright & Associates should be directed to JASE Group LLC at for scheduling.


2012 Downtown Norfolk Council Annual Meeting

RWA Introduces GreenTech Automotive MyCar Product Launch

RWA President, W. Randy Wright, will be attending the upcoming product launch event for the MyCar electric vehicle from GreenTech Automotive. Randy is a member of the Board of Directors of Gulf Coast Funds Management LLC, the Management Company of funds that invest in GreenTech Automotive Inc.

The launch event will be hosted at GreenTech Automotive’s Horn Lake Facility. Featured speakers include The Honorable William J. Clinton (42nd President of the United States), The Honorable Haley R. Barbour (63rd Governor of Mississippi), and The Honorable Phil Bryant (Governor of Mississippi).

GreenTech Automotive MyCar Product Launch

July 6, 2012

GreenTech Automotive (GTA) launches the next great chapter in American manufacturing with the launch of MyCar, a revolutionary new entrant to the electric vehicles market, on July 6, 2012, in Horn Lake, Miss.

The unveiling will offer the American public its first glimpse of MyCar, a neighborhood electric vehicle (NEV) that will help usher in a new era of affordable, clean hybrid and all-electric vehicles proudly bearing the “Made in America” label in markets around the world.

The MyCar launch is a celebration of the new American manufacturing renaissance – showcasing the innovative vision, engineering expertise and manufacturing muscle that still define the “Made in America” mantra. GTA is at the forefront of the in-sourcing movement, acquiring China-based EU Auto and bringing the company’s operations to the United States, along with an estimated 4,000+ jobs.

Founded in 2009 by accomplished entrepreneurs Terry McAuliffe and Charles Wang, GreenTech Automotive is a U.S.-based automotive manufacturer dedicated to developing environmentally friendly, energy-efficient vehicles for world-wide distribution. GTA’s core values celebrate innovation, embrace green technology, prioritize affordability to speed adoption of EVs, promote the creation of U.S. jobs and position the United States as the global manufacturing base for EV and hybrid vehicles and components.

GTA’s pilot manufacturing plant, a 376,000-square-foot facility in Horn Lake, Miss., will produce MyCar as GreenTech’s full-scale plant is completed in nearby Tunica, Miss. Production of MyCar and its derivatives, plus all-new vehicles that will be added to GTA’s product portfolio in the coming months, will lead to the creation of more than 4,000 new direct and indirect jobs in Mississippi and the vendor base nationwide by 2014, according to an independent conducted by Evans, Carroll & Associates Inc.

GreenTech Automotive MyCar group

Virginia House Joint Resolution No. 852: Commending W. Randy Wright

News source: Virginia General Assembly

Commending W. Randy Wright.

Agreed to by the House of Delegates, February 13, 2009
Agreed to by the Senate, February 19, 2009

WHEREAS, W. Randy Wright of Norfolk is the 2008 recipient of the Outstanding Contribution by an Individual award by the Virginia Transit Association; and

WHEREAS, a lifelong resident of Norfolk, Randy Wright has served the citizens of Norfolk as a member of the Norfolk City Council since 1992; and

WHEREAS, as a member of the Virginia Transit Association and the Hampton Roads Transit (HRT) board of directors, Randy Wright was instrumental in helping HRT and the City of Norfolk obtain a full funding grant agreement from the Federal Transit Administration for Virginia’s first light rail system, known as The Tide; and

WHEREAS, Randy Wright has been a leader on local, regional, state, and national boards and commissions, serving as a member of the Hampton Roads Planning District Commission, chairman of the Transit Board Members of North America, and chair of Norfolk’s Economic Community and Business Development Committee; and

WHEREAS, Randy Wright recently received the Outstanding Planning Leadership award from the Virginia Chapter of the American Planning Association for his instrumental role in the ongoing revitalization of the Norfolk community and creation of the area’s first Traditional Neighborhood Design; and

WHEREAS, Randy Wright was honored by the Tidewater Builders Association with its prestigious Stanley Award for leadership; and

WHEREAS, an articulate and knowledgeable leader, Randy Wright has served the citizens of Norfolk with skill and dedication for over 20 years; now, therefore, be it

RESOLVED by the House of Delegates, the Senate concurring, That the General Assembly hereby commend and congratulate W. Randy Wright on being the recipient of the Virginia Transit Association Outstanding Contribution by an Individual award for 2008; and, be it

RESOLVED FURTHER, That the Clerk of the House of Delegates prepare a copy of this resolution for presentation to W. Randy Wright as an expression of the General Assembly’s admiration for his outstanding achievements and gratitude for his commitment to his fellow citizens.

Wright honored as Norfolk’s Downtowner of Year

News source:

By Harry Minium
The Virginian-Pilot
© May 15, 2012

W. Randy Wright has never lived downtown and only worked there as a city councilman. He began his political career by running against the city’s establishment and its focus on revitalizing downtown.

Once elected, he pushed for tax cuts and more funding for neighborhoods such as Ocean View, which angered some of the city’s movers and shakers.

But Wright very quickly became a supporter of the revitalization of downtown. He threw his support in 1994 behind the then-controversial MacArthur Center shopping mall and later took on a passionate crusade to bring light rail through downtown to the Virginia Beach border.

Now, his name will be added to a noteworthy list of Norfolk leaders who have been named Downtowner of the Year.

The annual award, which Wright will receive June 27 at a banquet at the Norfolk Waterside Marriott, is given by the Downtown Norfolk Council to business and political leaders influential in improving downtown.

“If it were not for Randy Wright’s tenacity, we would not have light rail,” said Cathy Coleman, the Downtown Norfolk Council’s president and CEO.

Mayor Paul Fraim described Wright as “the face of the effort” that brought the transit system to the region.

Looking back on his early days as a councilman, Wright said he never wanted to hurt downtown – he just wanted more money for the city’s suburban neighborhoods.

“I always believed that downtown is everyone’s downtown, just like the beach in Ocean View is everyone’s beach,” he said.

Wright cast a critical vote to spend $100 million of public money to help build the mall. He also helped bring the battleship Wisconsin downtown and voted for the cruise ship terminal and a renovation of Town Point Park.

His support of The Tide, a $317 million light-rail line that connects the city’s medical center through downtown to Newtown Road, also helped cost him his council seat.

He was defeated by Tommy Smigiel in 2010. His loss came shortly after more than $100 million in light-rail cost overruns were made public. Smigiel said Wright was too focused on downtown and not enough on Ward 5.

Wright said light rail was only a part of the reason he lost, but he acknowledges the cost overruns, which are now estimated to be about $87 million, were fatal in that election.

“I knew the political risk when I took on that project,” he said. “People told me I had to be crazy to take it on because light rail is not anywhere near Ward 5.

“But I have no regrets because we defined the future of Norfolk and this region for the next half a century with the creation of light rail.”

Wright was nominated for the honor by two former award winners – Alan Nusbaum, chairman of the board of S.L. Nusbaum Realty; and attorney Peter G. Decker Jr., who penned his nomination letter in November, shortly before he died on Feb. 3.

The Downtown Norfolk Council is a private, non-profit group composed of hundreds of business, civic and political leaders that seeks to promote downtown.

Harry Minium, (757) 446-2371,

Randy Wright was determined to rise – and did

News source:

By Harry Minium
The Virginian-Pilot
© September 20, 2009

W. Randy Wright often mangles the English language, and even in a suit can look disheveled. He lacks a college degree and often raises the ire of others with blunt, in-your-face talk. Raised in a poor family in blue-collar Norview, Wright excelled at bowling in high school, not academics.

Yet, he now mixes confidently with the city’s business and political elite.

Wright, a city councilman since 1992, is one of the region’s most powerful political leaders and a catalyst for some of Norfolk’s most ambitious projects: among them, MacArthur Center, East Beach and the revitalization of Ocean View.

Next year, light rail, a project that Wright pioneered, will begin rolling through Norfolk. It’s a project that some say will be Wright’s legacy.

Yet he is also Norfolk’s political bull in a china shop. He relishes political controversies and plays politics like a contact sport.

“So many people have underestimated Randy over the years, to their detriment,” Norfolk attorney Peter G. Decker Jr. said.

He has successfully defended his council seat in four elections and intends to run again next spring.

Many would like to see him go. Others know better.

“One of the first things I did when I decided to run for governor was talk to the mayor of Ocean View,” U.S. Sen. Mark Warner said. “Anyone running for political office in Virginia seeks Randy’s support. He has a loyal following.”

Wright was the third of four children born to parents who dropped out of high school to work during the Depression. His mother, Billie, became a housewife. His father, Buddy, a Navy veteran of World War II, maintained furnaces for the Army.

Formal schooling was not a priority in the Wright household. The family lived in a three-bedroom cottage on Winward Road in Norview.

Wright’s older brother, Bobby, wore hand-me-downs from a cousin. Randy Wright wore what he called “third-me-downs” after his brother outgrew them.

Standing just 5-foot-8 and 112 pounds as a high school senior, he was often picked on. “You took a licking and kept on ticking,” Wright, 63, said.

He graduated from Norview in 1964 and went to work as an apprentice printer. He spent days in the shop, his nights going to school and weekends with his wife in a rental house in his old neighborhood.

Although his family was apolitical, politics intrigued him, and when he was 21 he registered to vote.

In 1968, he went to see former Alabama Gov. George Wallace, then running for president, at a rally at Foreman Field. Wright voted for Wallace, a former segregationist.

The next year, he voted for Henry Howell, a supporter of civil rights, for governor.

Wallace and Howell had one thing in common: They were populists who railed against the establishment

“That appealed to me,” Wright said.

It’s an appeal Wright adopted in his political career.

In 1973, his son Eddie was born, and a few years later he and his wife bought their first home, in the Tarrallton section of the city. Finally, after years of struggling, Wright felt like he was middle class.

Out of curiosity, he began to attend Roosevelt Area Civic League meetings. It would prove to be a pivotal decision.

Civic league officer Joanne Wall liked the questions Wright asked at meetings, and within a few months she asked him to be civic league president.

“I told her I’ll do it only if you can’t find anyone else,” he recalled.

His political career was thus launched.

He learned that he could give a good speech and used that strength to capitalize on discontent over high real estate taxes.

In 1978, he and others formed the Norfolk Tea Party, an anti-tax group that attracted national attention when Wright, dressed in Native American garb, and others threw tea into the waters of the Hague.

Wright was bitten by the political bug. He wanted to run for council but knew he couldn’t unless he had his own business. “You can’t be on the City Council and work for someone else,” he said.

Longtime friend Bob Hicks came up with a plan to enable Wright to run: He told him to buy a printing company.

Wright did so in 1984, and not long after that, he and his son moved in above the Granby Street business. He and his wife had recently separated and Wright couldn’t afford anything else.

He didn’t let his finances slow down his political ambitions, though.

In the early 1980s, he helped lead a successful fight to end busing for integration in elementary schools, which he said unfairly forced students from the Ocean View, Bayview and Roosevelt neighborhoods onto buses, while allowing upper-income kids to walk to school.

His stance was popular on the city’s blue-collar east side but engendered hostility in black neighborhoods.

In 1986, he ran for the council. It was then that Mabel Carnes, one of Wright’s early supporters, told him he needed a makeover.

“I looked at him and said, ‘If you’re going to go somewhere, you’ve got to change a few things,’ ” she said.

“At times, he looked like John Travolta in ‘Grease.’ ”

She taught him to chew without his mouth open, pronounce words correctly and wear a coat and tie.

The tips almost worked.

On election night, Wright lost by fewer than 500 votes. He was devastated but not defeated.

A few weeks before the election, he had met Arlene Brooks, a Virginia Beach real estate agent, on a blind date. “He took me by the hand and he never let go of my hand that night,” she said. “He was so romantic.”

Within a year, they were married.

He continued hosting town hall meetings, all the while plotting his next political race.

Wright knew the best way to get elected was to eliminate the city’s at-large system, which the city’s business establishment had used to maintain control of the council. So he began meeting privately with some of the city’s most influential black leaders, who thought the system discriminated against African Americans.

It was the first time that Wright had spent time with many of the leaders, who were suspicious of him after he fought to end busing.

“We started to know each other and found out we had much more in common than not,” Wright said.

Eventually, James Gay, Herbert Collins and others filed a lawsuit that after eight years, forced the city to adopt a ward system. Gay and Collins, both now deceased, credited Wright with providing invaluable help. “He was with us all the way,” Collins said.

Collins and Gay won their lawsuit in 1991, and a ward system was introduced in 1992. Wright ran in Ward 5, castigating the city’s “shadow government” for spending too much money downtown and not enough in Ocean View.

He won easily and was ready to shake up City Hall.

A few days after he won, Wright and his wife strolled past 90 acres of slums in East Ocean View. He told her he was going to propose tearing down all 1,600 residences there, mostly apartments, and build anew.

“They’ll never let you do it,” she said.

A year later, he announced plans to replace the apartments with a neighborhood called East Beach. Most residents and landlords wanted to stay. Some threatened Wright, who needed police escorts for public hearings.

Wright remembers a man at one of the meetings asking him, “Are you going to allow me to keep my home?” Responded Wright: “No, I’m not.”

“It was a very difficult thing to say.”

Wright’s biggest battle was with the housing authority, a state agency that redeveloped East Beach. The agency wanted a South Carolina group to build East Beach. Wright wanted a conglomerate led by Virginia Beach developer Bart Frye.

“I wanted a local developer who would be invested in the project,” he said.

Housing authority officials, including board chairman Doyle Hull, protested, as did many prominent city officials. But with the backing of Mayor Paul Fraim, Wright got his way.

Hull was so upset, he asked not to be reappointed to the board. David Rice, who headed the housing authority, also left, Hull said, “because of Randy’s meddling.”

“We lost some of our very best people.”

East Beach established Wright’s reputation as a hard-nosed politician, said Bob Layton, a housing authority commissioner and a longtime ally.

“He got tremendous pressure from the heavyweights in the city to back off, to leave this alone,” Layton said. “But he simply believed what he was doing was right. Time has proven him correct.”

Over time, he became more powerful.

He opposed spending money downtown, saying it should go to neighborhoods, and pushed ordinances that forced bars, used car lots and pawn shops to seek city permission before opening.

He lobbied for dredging Pretty Lake and replacing the Shore Drive Bridge with a taller one, which gave owners of hundreds of middle-class homes access to deep water. The city has poured $200 million into Ocean View since he was elected, mostly for tearing down blighted housing, strip bars and seedy hotels.

Wright’s most controversial decision may have been a petition to rescind a council decision allowing Calvary Revival Church, a majority black church, to build a 3,000-seat cathedral in Roosevelt Gardens in 1993.

He was conflicted on the issue, he said, because of his deep religious faith. He has long attended weekly Bible study with an interracial group, including Del. Algie T. Howell Jr.

Yet he fought the church with zeal, gathering more than 20,000 signatures on petitions that would have forced a referendum on the issue. Sensing defeat, the church agreed to build a school on the site instead.

Councilman Paul R. Riddick bitterly criticized Wright, calling him a racist. Today, Riddick is one of Wright’s closest political allies.

“Randy is not a racist,” Riddick said. “I know him much better now than I did then.”

Wright’s growing power eventually led to a miscalculation. In 1995, he ran for clerk of the circuit court and claimed just a third of the vote citywide. “I ran for financial reasons,” Wright said.

Even so, he was re-elected to the council by a large majority in 1998.

Two years later, he was tested again. He and Fraim backed different candidates for a superward council seat. Barclay C. Winn won thanks in large part to huge majorities in Wright’s ward. The day after the election, Wright and Fraim mended their relationship by having breakfast.

Said Wright: “Paul and I, we’ve lifted this city on our shoulders in many cases to move it forward. In East Beach, he never flinched. He stood with me 100 percent.”

Wright also stood with Fraim. He supported tens of millions of dollars in city subsidies for MacArthur Center, an unpopular vote in his ward. It marked a reversal for Wright, who previously had railed against downtown spending.

After Winn’s election, Wright turned his attention to light rail, a subject he says is his passion.

He came by his love for mass transit as a boy. His parents didn’t drive, so he learned to get around by bus. He became intrigued with light rail in 1996 when he took a train from Anaheim to Los Angeles while in California for a conference.

Few gave Norfolk a snowball’s chance of succeeding with light rail. Virginia Beach, the state’s largest city, had said no to light rail in a 1999 referendum. That didn’t stop Wright.

He traveled the nation, buttonholing federal officials in hotel lobbies from New York to the West Coast, even if they could talk for only a few minutes.

“I learned that the powerful people you need to see are never in Washington,” he said.

He personally oversaw cost reductions for the project, helped engineer a merger of the region’s mass transit agencies and even came up with the name for Norfolk’s light rail: the Tide.

“Randy is the reason Norfolk has light rail,” said former Republican Rep. Thelma Drake. “He was relentless.”

Next year, Norfolk will be the smallest city ever to have light rail funded by the federal government, which is paying about half the cost of the $288 million project.

Virginia Beach is considering a proposal to extend light rail to the Oceanfront.

Many know of Wright’s work in Ocean View, Fraim said.

“But light rail, someday, will touch every community in this region,” Fraim said.

Political life has been good to Wright. He owns a small but successful print shop near Military Circle. His wife is a successful real estate agent.

They own four homes, two in North Carolina. Their principal residence, on Little Creek Inlet, east of East Beach, is assessed by the city at $816,600.

Wright travels extensively, dotes on his grandchild, Tyler, and makes no apologies for the wealth he has amassed, saying he and his wife earned every dime honestly.

Even so, some say Wright is too close with developers who do business with the city, including Ocean View residents Ronnie and Judy Boone.

“He’s been in office too long and controls things too tightly in Ocean View,” said Bill Kerry, a Wright critic who lives in East Ocean View.

Wright acknowledges being friends with the Boones and others but said those relationships have helped the city.

“When I was first elected, you couldn’t get a developer to do anything here,” he said. “I had to knock on doors and build relationships.”

Those relationships, among other things, have taken a toll on his popularity. In 2006, Wright defeated a relatively unknown candidate with little money by just 521 votes.

Wright apologized to his constituents for not paying enough attention to their needs and reconstituted the Norfolk Tea Party as the Norfolk Tea Party II. In 2007, the group forced the largest real estate tax reduction in city history.

Wright, who employs a polling agency, said his standing has improved since 2006.

Kerry disagrees, saying that if Wright runs for re-election in May, he will lose.

“People are tired of him,” he said.

Tommy Smigiel, a Granby High School assistant principal, announced last month that he will run against Wright.

Wright said he’s ready for the competition.

In the meantime, he’s ticking off a “Bucket List” of 60 things he’s trying to do before he dies, most with his son, Eddie. They have already watched a championship boxing match in Las Vegas, visited the Baseball Hall of Fame, played at the “Field of Dreams” baseball stadium in Iowa and herded cows on a dude ranch.

“One of the things I’ve learned is that no matter how tough things get, you’ve got to have fun,” he said.

Still, there’s nothing he likes better than the trappings of politics. That was never more evident than during a visit to downtown two years ago by Prince Philip, husband of England’s Queen Elizabeth.

As the prince, Wright and others were being led in to a private dinner, Wright beamed.

“Not bad,” he said, winking, “for a poor boy from Norview.”

Pilot writer Meredith Kruse contributed to this report.

Harry Minium, (757) 446-2371,

I’m living proof of political risk

News source:

June 1, 2012
by philip newswanger

W. Randy Wright – former Norfolk City Council member and considered the godfather of Norfolk’s light rail system The Tide – was honored as Norfolk’s Downtowner of the Year, an annual award given by the Downtown Norfolk Council to an individual who has promoted the revitalization of the city’s urban hub.

Wright will be feted at the Downtown Norfolk Council’s annual meeting June 27 at the Norfolk Waterside Marriott, starting at 11:15 a.m.

Though Wright never represented downtown Norfolk, Donna Phaneuf, chair of the Downton Norfolk Council’s board, lauded Wright for his support of programs that revitalized the city’s core, such as the city’s tax abatement program, his involvement in bringing the USS Wisconsin to the city and for his influence in getting MacArthur Center constructed.

But Wright may be best known for East Beach, an upscale neighborhood that replaced a trailer park and blighted properties, and for the first light rail system in the region, a 7.4-mile line costing $317 million.

The Virginia Transit Association lauded Wright for his involvement in the merger of Pentrans and Tidewater Regional Transit to form Hampton Roads Transit and for his role in bringing light rail to Norfolk.

Wright was also chairman of the American Public Transportation Alliance’s transit board for three years. His term ended in 2010.

Wright lost his city council seat representing Ward 5 in 2010, due in large part to his support of light rail, to Thomas “Tommy” Richard Smigiel Jr., assistant principal at Lake Taylor High School.

Wright has been busy for the past two years leveraging his experience on city council and as chairman of the city’s economic development committee.

He is president of Randy Wright & Associates and WWB Development and Consulting.

He is also president of the Hampton Roads Public Transportation Alliance, an advocacy group for public transportation in the region.

“I have just been working on business deals specializing in government relations, transportation and development,” Wright said about his time since his days on city council in an interview last week. “All the things I did for free while on city council.”

Were you surprised by the Downtowner of the Year award?

It was a pleasant surprise. It takes a lot for me to be speechless. I was extremely humbled and honored by being Downtowner of the Year. I am happy to be part of that prestigious group.

What have been your most notable achievements?

If I work off a time line, I would say that it would be the $100 million MacArthur Center. I was first chairman and then co-chair of the city’s economic development committee – for 10 years. I was in the midst of anything coming down in the city.

I inherited a mess in Ocean View. It was the challenge of all challenges. We put a face on it. Even with the recession, East Beach has continued to plow on.

Granby Street went from being a ghost town to a thriving restaurant and business community. Now with light rail, Granby Street will go to another level.

When did you champion light rail?

I took up the mantle in 1997 and was dealing with light rail in 1999 with the ill-fated referendum [in Virginia Beach]. The vote was against it 55 to 45 percent.

If the vote were held today, what do you think the vote would be?

I think it would be 55 to 45 percent the other way. In 1999, it was an advisory referendum.

There’s a political risk. I’m living proof of political risk.

How do you feel about the future of light rail today?

I feel better about it after Reality Check [a recent land-use community planning event]. I never would have thought people across the board would be talking about light rail. Everybody was talking about it.

Why is light rail and public transportation good for the region? Is it needed? Is it worth the cost?

We have got to get people out of cars. We can’t build enough roads. Everybody at Reality Check realized that we can’t solve our problems with more roads.

The city of Norfolk pays only 20 percent of the cost to move a person by bus. It’s just like road maintenance; it’s not free.

A mile of interstate highway is more than double the cost of light rail.

What do you consider your role in the furtherance of mass transit in the region?

I’m not sure. Whatever I can do, I’ll do it. Being president of the Hampton Roads Public Transportation Alliance, I have a platform.

How has your involvement with light rail and as a city council member impacted the Hampton Roads Public Transportation Alliance?

It’s fair to say that my positioning and being father of light rail hasn’t hurt HRPTA. It’s been good for HRPTA and it’s been good for Randy.

How does the Hampton Roads Public Transportation Alliance figure into the future of light rail?

It would be my hope in the near future and in the long-term HRPTA would be the voice of public transportation in the region.

Why did you make transportation your passion?

That’s a really good question. Two things, I guess. In 1996, the council’s appointee to the Tidewater Regional Transit’s board [the precursor to Hampton Roads Transit] was city council member Rev. Joe Green. Another serving on the board was John Sears. We needed someone else from council. So the mayor looked around and said who wants to be on the board and I said I did.

Growing up, my parents didn’t have a car. I rode the bus. My father was a boilermaker at the Army Terminal, which is now Virginia International Terminals, and my mother was a homemaker. I was an apprentice printer at Gatling Business Forms in Norfolk Industrial Park. I rode the bus to work every day.

I lived behind Norview Junior High School [now Norview Middle School] in Sewall’s Garden. I lived in a two-bedroom bungalow with four other children. You learned to share quickly.

Would you run for city council again?

I don’t know. I’m having fun doing what I’m doing. My family likes it.

I’ve had a good run. I’ve done things I never thought possible. I couldn’t have done anything without the support of council or Hampton Roads Transit.

There is a small component of light rail I can take credit for – the brick colored concrete embedded between the rails. It’s esthetically pleasing and good for safety.

Father of light rail Randy Wright feted on debut’s eve

News source:

By Harry Minium
The Virginian-Pilot
© August 19, 2011

For more than a decade, W. Randy Wright was a dogged and often lonely proponent for light rail.

He jetted around the country, button-holing federal transit officials to tell them Norfolk was the perfect place for mass transit. He pored over light-rail budgets, made frequent suggestions on design changes and picked the name for Norfolk’s starter line: The Tide.

Many, including Mayor Paul Fraim, call Wright the father of Norfolk light rail.

With that title came both credit and criticism. When officials announced in 2007 that light rail was coming to the region, he was widely praised. Norfolk was the smallest city in the nation to be approved for light rail.

But when tens of millions of dollars in cost overruns came to light in 2008 and 2009 and the project was delayed for more than a year, he was roundly criticized. A state audit faulted him, among others, for not immediately informing city officials about the overruns.

He paid the political price in May 2010 when he lost his City Council re-election race, despite outspending opponent Tommy Smigiel, who said light rail showed how out of touch Wright was with his ward.

Wright, with a consulting and printing business in Ghent, has largely led a private life since.

That ends today when The Tide opens. Wright will be at the Newtown Road station at 6 a.m. when the first light rail train heads downtown. At 5:30 tonight, he will be feted at a reception by the Hampton Roads Public Transportation Alliance at the Norolk Waterside Marriott.

Fraim and Virginia Beach Mayor Will Sessoms will be among 150 people attending. Wright and his wife, Arlene, are staying in downtown Norfolk this weekend to drink it all in.

“It will absolutely be the most memorable day of my political career,” he said of his first ride on light rail this morning. “I will have a great sense of accomplishment and no regrets for what it took to get there.”

In spite of the cost overruns, Wright, who served on council 18 years, said Norfolk’s light rail system is the cheapest per mile constructed in the nation since 2000. In Seattle, a light rail line about twice the size of Norfolk’s 7.4-mile Tide cost $2.3 billion. Norfolk’s light rail line will cost $318.5 million.

Norfolk’s share of that cost will be about $55 million.

Wright acknowledges that critics have controlled the public conversation. Civic groups opposed to light rail in Virginia Beach have savaged Norfolk’s plan. Some call it the Train to Nowhere – because it ends at the Virginia Beach border.

Others have criticized the subsidies necessary to run light rail. With feeder bus service included, it will cost city, state and federal governments a combined $16 million per year, above fare revenues, to run The Tide.

Wright said accusations that he knew about light rail cost overruns hurt and anger him. The Federal Transit Administration was in charge of monitoring light rail costs, he said. Failing that, he said, state officials, Hampton Roads Transit, HRT consultants and the city manager’s office all should have recognized the problem.

“They were supposed to be there every month getting reports,” he said. “Millions of dollars were spent to monitor the costs. Me, I was a commissioner on the HRT board getting paid $50 per month.”

Wright acknowledges that he withheld information on cost overruns for about a month in 2009, along with other city officials and HRT management. They did so until Dec. 18, 2009, when the Commonwealth Transportation Board approved $20 million to help Norfolk cope with the cost overruns.

State officials asked him to keep mum until the board meeting, he said.

“I was protecting my city, and I would do it again,” he said.

Wright said that sometime this weekend he will quietly board light rail by himself and ride for several hours. He will talk with riders, take in the scenery and reflect on what he accomplished.

“One day light rail will interconnect the entire region,” he said.

“Nobody makes something like this happen by himself, but this would not have happened if someone wasn’t willing to take the political risk and be the premier political champion for the project.

“People are going to look back one day and say how did all of this happen? My name will be there, even if it’s just a footnote.”

Harry Minium, (757) 446-2371,

Randy Wright & Associates Selects JASE Group LLC as Public Relations Agency of Record

JASE Group LLC ( will serve as the Public Relations & Inbound Marketing agency of record for Randy Wright & Associates ( of Norfolk, VA.

Norfolk, VA, May 31, 2012: Randy Wright & Associates today announced the selection of JASE Group LLC as Public Relations agency of record. Norfolk-based JASE Group, an innovative Public Relations & Inbound Marketing Agency, was strategically chosen after a competitive review of the Virginia public relations agency landscape.

JASE Group will develop a creative, integrated communications platform and lead the execution of a variety of public relations initiatives which will showcase Randy Wright & Associates’ consulting expertise in the Development, Transportation, and Government Relations realms across the United States. Through an efficient news bureau, JASE Group will raise awareness of the Randy Wright & Associates iconic brand. JASE Group’s efforts include a strategic media outreach plan targeted at traditional, digital, mobile, social and progressive media platforms. JASE Group will also design and develop the new Randy Wright & Associates website at that will spearhead inbound marketing efforts to further raise awareness and provide a solid online platform for new business generation.

Randy Wright & Associates President, Randy Wright, stated “The next 12 months promises to be an exciting time for Randy Wright & Associates. We are pleased to partner with JASE Group to define and promote how our company can help you by focusing on Development, Transportation, Government Relations, and Printing.”

“JASE is very excited to be named the PR agency of record for Randy Wright & Associates,” said JASE Group Chief Executive Officer, Keith Parnell. “We are eager to build upon the solid brand of RWA and help expand their professional brand that is already well-respected in the industry. We are confident our team and innovative strategies will increase awareness of the talents at RWA and help achieve desired growth and productivity goals.”

More information on Randy Wright & Associates can soon be found at
More information on JASE Group LLC can be found at

Randy Wright & Associates is currently consulting on many exciting projects, not just in Hampton Roads but Nationally. RWA is partnered with one of the top 5 work force development companies in the United States which inherently expands its expertise and experience exponentially. RWA is teamed with one of the largest market rate builders in the United States as well. Randy Wright & Associates has broad expertise in Government Relations, Transit, and Printing and its principals hold significant offices such as Board of Directors membership for Gulf Coast Funds Management LLC of McLean, VA, the parent organization of GreenTech Automotive of Virginia, Mississippi, Luxembourg, China, and Hong Kong. For more information on Randy Wright & Associates, visit after new website launch.

JASE Group LLC is a creative communications agency, brand studio and innovations lab based in Norfolk, VA, founded in 1997. JASE is uniquely focused on digital technologies, and mobile, social and progressive media platforms. JASE’s talented team specializes in leading edge services such as Inbound Marketing, Creative Advertising, Public Relations, and Technology, that includes creative advertising campaigns, public relations platforms, brand management solutions, inbound marketing strategies, web design services, and eBusiness solutions. For more information on JASE Group LLC, visit


What is Randy Wright & Associates Doing Today?

Randy Wright & Associates is currently consulting on many exciting projects, not just in Hampton Roads but Nationally. RWA is partnered with one of the top 5 work force development companies in the United States which inherently expands its expertise and experience exponentially. RWA is teamed with one of the largest market rate builders in the United States as well. Randy Wright & Associates has broad expertise in Government Relations, Transit and Printing and its principals hold significant offices such as Board of Directors membership for Gulf Coast Funds Management LLC of McLean, VA, the parent organization of GreenTech Automotive of Virginia, Mississippi, Luxembourg, China, and Hong Kong.

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2200 Colonial Avenue
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Norfolk, VA 23517
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