By Tamara Karakashian
Mayor-elect Alan Autry, who is best known as “Bubba” on the hit television series “In the Heat of the Night,” and former Fresno Mayor Dan Whitehurst were invited by the Armenian Students Organization for an open forum on campus one week prior to the election on October 25, 2000.
The purpose of the forum was for the Armenian community of Fresno to gain an understanding of where the two mayoral candidates stood on different issues such as urban growth, education, agriculture and downtown revitalization.
The forum was lead by ASO Historian, Tim Kuckenbaker, and ASO Treasurer, Barbara Harutinian. The audience wrote questions for the candidates on three by five cards that were later asked during the forum by Kuckenbaker. During the forum, Autry said he plans to build a lake in the center of downtown Fresno, which he believes will attract economic growth to the area.
The candidates also expressed different opinions regarding the “Armenia Town” project in downtown Fresno. Autry believed that the “Armenia Town” project could not stand on its own and needs to be accompanied by a large-scale revitalization of downtown Fresno.
Mayor-elect Autry, was born in 1952, in Louisiana. At 13 months of age, Autry moved to Tulare, California with his mother, Verna. Autry played quarterback at Riverdale High School. He then went on to play football at the University of Pacific and graduated in 1975 with his degree in Physical Education. He later had a short career in the NFL with the Green Bay Packers.
Autry then moved on to an acting career, where he landed a role in the television series “In the Heat of the Night,” which ran for seven seasons. It was during the final seasons of “In the Heat of the Night” that Autry and his wife, Kimberlee, and their children, Lauren, Heather, and Austin, moved to Fresno. Autry also had a short role on the television series “Grace Under Fire”. He then turned to the production side of the profession and established his own company, Dirt Road Productions.
“Success, no matter what line of work you are in, depends on your attitude and how you approach your current situation,” Autry said. Autry’s political involvement began by his support to the 10-20-Life legislation and his involvement with the Operation Sky Watch program. Now his political career continues. With every ballot counted properly, Alan Autry has been chosen as Fresno’s new mayor.