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Before joining the Atlanta City Council, Richard Guthman served as president of the Fulton County Republican Club. For 40 years, he's collected elephant statues and paintings and now has more than 100. Photo by Katie Hendrick.
Longboat Key Wednesday, Mar. 27, 2013 4 years ago

Your Neighbor: Richard Guthman

by: Katie Hendrick Community Editor

Neighborhood: Promenade
Neighbor since: 1999

As a little boy in the 1930s, Richard Guthman rode with his parents to watch planes take off from the Atlanta airport, then known as Candler Field, a 3.5-acre property that serviced 16 incoming and outgoing flights per day. Four decades later, while serving on the Atlanta City Council, he helped expand the airport into William B. Hartsfield Atlanta International Airport, a 2.5 million-square-foot hub designed to accommodate up to 55 million passengers per year.

Guthman’s tenure on the city council spanned 14 years and involved several meetings with Presidents Jimmy Carter and Ronald Reagan, but, for him, the airport project was the most meaningful.

“It turned Atlanta into a major transportation center,” he said, adding that, unlike other airports, Atlanta’s runs entirely on its own revenues, not tax money. “All money earned in the airport stays in the airport.”

A former banker who called fiscal policy his “major thrust,” Guthman takes immense pride in this characteristic.

Guthman felt the calling for public service after volunteering to ride with the city’s homicide, robbery and vice squads on weekends.

“I saw an unseemly side of my hometown,” he said. “I also saw these brave individuals’ dedication to better the city and felt inspired to do something myself.”

— Katie Hendrick

IN HIS OWN WORDS: “There’s an ease of making public servants scapegoats, but they provide valuable services, especially safety, that, without, you couldn’t have a civilized society.”

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