Retired teacher loves politicsPublished 11:46am Saturday, August 31, 2013
BY MERLE MONAHAN
WINDSOR—Windsor mayor Carita “Rita” Richardson was not particularly interested in politics until about two years after she retired from teaching in 2003, she said.
“It all happened when my husband decided to attend a town council meeting because the council was going to discuss an issue he was interested in—I can’t even remember what it was,” Richardson said.
“But anyway, I decided to accompany him and immediately became interested in the town’s government.
“Actually, this was a night when they were discussing the budget, and as a former math teacher it was quite interesting to me.”
Richardson said she then began attending council meetings, and she learned about things she had not even thought about before. She decided she might be able to contribute some positive ideas as a council member and ran in the 2006 election.
The retired Windsor High School Spanish and math teacher was elected to council for four years, after which she ran for and was elected mayor, the first female mayor in the history of the town.
Richardson is excited about new things on the horizon for Windsor, she revealed.
“I feel like Windsor is the next frontier for development in the Tidewater area,” she went on. “We have a lot of land in the area and with the intermodal park, which is partly within the town boundaries and the new Route 460 coming through, there will certainly be more traffic, thus more growth.
“I don’t know when it will happen, it could be five years, or it could be 15, but Windsor needs to be prepared.”
She said the town is in the process of planning for growth.
“We want to plan for the way we want things to be in the future and have already begun formulating new land development ordinances. “We’ve already accomplished a lot through the efforts of council, our staff and our planning commission,” she added.
These efforts have not gone unnoticed. Richardson recently received a citation from the Citizens Planning Education Association of Virginia as a Champion of Sound Planning in the Town of Windsor. Because of this she also was commended by the Virginia House of Delegates’ resolution H100 for leadership and winning the CPEAV award.
“This award actually goes to our council, staff and the Windsor Planning Commission,” she said. “They did the work.”
Richardson praises her council for its dedication and ability.
“We have so many talented and versatile people on council,” she said. “And they are always willing to take on any project that affects the town.”
One project that Richardson has pursued herself is the preservation of the old middle school gym.
“There was some talk about tearing it down,” she said, “but the county has agreed to let it stay, which is wonderful.
“We need a place such as that here,” Richardson said. “It will be perfect for activities for our seniors and our youth.”
The mayor is in the process of writing grants and has appealed to the County Board of Supervisors for funds to renovate the building.
“The county has agreed to provide $100,000 over the next four years,” she said. “I am so pleased.”
The mayor says she never expected to end up as the top officer of Windsor, but absolutely loves the job.
“I’ve loved living in Windsor ever since I came here in 1970,” she said. “My husband, Bentley, was the Windsor High agricultural teacher for 10 years, while I taught Spanish and math for 30. It has a wonderful place to raise our son, who is now an engineer living in Chesterfield.”
Richardson grew up in Volney, a small farming community in Southwestern Virginia. She attended Radford College at the same time her husband, whom she met during this time, who was attending Virginia Tech.
“In college, I wanted to major in Spanish,” she said, “but one of my professors reminded me that there probably would not be too many jobs out there for Spanish teachers, so I added math to my studies.
Richardson smiled, saying, “I guess you could say that’s why I’m mayor of Windsor. It was my math background that sparked my interest in town government.”
NAME: Carita “Rita” Richardson.
WHAT BROUGHT YOU TO THIS AREA: Employment as a teacher at Windsor High School.
OCCUPATION: Mayor of Windsor, retired teacher.
MARITAL STATUS: Married to Bentley Richardson for 43 years.
CHILDREN, SCHOOLS AND AGES: One son, L.B. “Ley” Richardson III, wife Christy, and one grandson, Reese, 4. Our son lives and works in Chesterfield.
FAVORITE NIGHT OUT ON THE TOWN: My husband and I love to try new restaurants with friends.
FAVORITE RESTAURANT: I love Country Boy’s Restaurant here with their barbeque and homemade sides.
FAVORITE MEAL AND BEVERAGE: Seafood and a good cup of hot, black coffee.
WHAT DO MOST PEOPLE NOT KNOW ABOUT YOU: Actually, I am quite shy and quiet.
WHAT IS THE BEST THING ABOUT YOURSELF: I am a Christian and person of integrity.
WHAT IS YOUR WORST HABIT: I am a perfectionist.
FAVORITE HOBBIES: I live to read, cook and collect antiques.
PET PEEVE: I dislike people who are not true to their word—who say they are going to do one thing, but do another.
FIRST JOB: Teaching school.
HOW WOULD YOU LIKE TO BE REMEMBERED: As a person who believes service to others is one of the best things in life. It is more rewarding to give than to receive.
IF YOU HAD 10 MINUTES ON NATIONAL TELEVISION, WHAT WOULD YOUR TOPIC BE AND WHAT WOULD YOU SAY: My topic would be the importance of the family unit in today’s society. Families must nurture their children and raise them with good moral values. Impress on your children to always do their best and to get a good education. This, together with a good attitude, will always open doors for them wherever they want to go.