Former Richmond City Councilman Chuck Richardson confirmed Wednesday that he plans to run for mayor and is now gathering signatures to get on the November ballot.
Richardson, who announced his intentions at Tuesday night's meeting of the Richmond Crusade for Voters, represented the 5th district on City Council for nearly two decades. His career in politics came to an abrupt end in the mid ‘90s, when he was sentenced to 10 years in prison for felony distribution of heroin. He served nearly two years. In 2004, he was arrested again for possession of the substance, but a jury acquitted him.
He would not have been able to seek public office were it not for Gov. Terry McAuliffe's recent executive order restoring the voting rights of 206,000 Virginians convicted of felonies. That order also restored felons’ rights to seek public office. For Richardson, who is 68, the timing could not have been more serendipitous.
“The confluence of events – it’s something that seemed to come together, and the only thing I have to do is qualify [for the ballot] and who knows what might happen,” he said in an interview Wednesday afternoon.
Richardson joins 16 other candidates who have either announced their intentions to run or filed paperwork with the registrar's office. That list includes: City Council President Michelle Mosby, West End councilman Jon Baliles, former council representatives L. Shirley Harvey and Bruce Tyler, former delegate and Richmond commonwealth’s attorney Joe Morrissey, former Venture Richmond executive Jack Berry, former Secretary of the Commonwealth Levar Stoney, community strategist Lillie A. Estes, architect Lawrence Williams, businessman Brad Froman, activists Alan Schintzius and Rick Tatnall, Richmond Public Schools teacher Chad Ingold, retired real estate consultant Bobby Junes, former VCU student Nate Peterson and candidate Amon Rayford.
City politics are bogged down with public officials who are not focused on serving the taxpayers, Richardson argued. If elected, he says he would do what he was taught to do in the Marine Corps, and what he tried to do when he served on council: Get the job done.
“I can sit back and complain and criticize or I can get off my butt and do something about it, and I’ve decided on the latter,” he said.
Richardson said he does not believe his criminal record will hurt his bid.
“I’ve been through things like most people, but right now, I’m a law-abiding citizen, and my history is what it is. I think I have something to offer. My background, my understanding, my perception and my attitude and desire to make a contribution are equal to anybody who might want to run.”