by Stacy Wiedmaier
A familiar face in Parkville is vying to become the city’s next mayor.
Current Ward 4 Alderman Gerry Richardson announced among family and friends that he is running for the position Friday evening during a reception at The Sweet Guy in downtown Parkville.
A vague invitation for the event was delivered the week prior as suspicions arose among curious spectators. Would he or wouldn’t he?
“It’s definitely not the best keep secret in the world, and yes, there has been a little bit of mystery. I am running for the mayor of Parkville,” Richardson said as he stood before the intimate crowd who immediately began clapping and nodding heads.
“Like many of you, I have lived other places but I feel a connection to this community and a sense of belonging. I’m at home here. I want the opportunity to preserve the best of what Parkville is and promote a better tomorrow.”
Richardson is 52 years old and retired. He told the crowd he has the time to commit to this office and he will serve Parkville well with a steady hand if he is fortunate enough to get elected. He said being mayor is not a small job and the challenge is big.
“Kathy (Dusenbery, current mayor) has been a fantastic force for Parkville and has really set the bar for mayor of Parkville very, very high. I may just need to borrow her ladder,” he joked.
Admitting to onlookers he was indeed nervous although he knew each of them, he held a few notes of clear points to make. Richardson is no stranger to elected positions and has served the city throughout multiple terms.
After graduating from the University of Missouri with a mechanical and aerospace engineering degree, he became a registered professional engineer in the state of Missouri. He has worked for the George Butler Associates Consulting Engineers firm in Kansas City where he served as a design engineer and project manager. He later was a founding member in the Clark, Richardson & Biskup Consulting Engineers Inc. located in Kansas City, Mo. At the time of his retirement in 2003, he served as the principle-in-charge of the Midwest Regional Office. He is the president and CEO of CRB Builders, LLC., a professional construction management firm.
Richardson was appointed Parkville’s Ward 4 alderman in January 1997, and later elected for the same position in April of that year and served as chairman of the annexation committee. His second alderman term took place when he was re-elected in April 1998. He did not seek re-election in 2000. He was appointed as the city’s interim mayor in February 2004 when Charlie Kutz stepped down. He held this interim position for three months while he spearheaded efforts to present a capital improvement bond issue and led recruiting efforts to hire a new city manager.
Richardson noted during his speech how his wife Lori told him that, “You served long enough as mayor to do good, but not long enough to make enemies.”
He was later appointed commissioner for Parkville’s planning and zoning board in April 2006 where he served for one year. Richardson was again elected to serve Ward 4 as an alderman in April 2007, and he currently serves as the chairman of the ad-hoc committee for Parkville’s economic development.
Richardson has resided in Parkville for the last 16 years and been married for 29. He has two daughters, one son and a two-year-old grandson.
After making the announcement, Richardson said the city is blessed and has not fallen on hard times. But he said he understands certain issues Parkville is facing now and will face in the near future.
“I’ve learned how to lead through consensus,” he said. “Parkville needs a clear and cohesive community development plan. I have other priorities, although I wouldn’t call it a platform yet. We must preserve and protect Parkville’s culture, character, charm and sense of community. Our downtown is a gem and we need to keep it shiny. Our parks and green space are an integral part of this city and they need to be expanded.”
Richardson also said his priorities include establishing a formal economic development plan and finding a solution to the trains, crossing, noisy horns and possible BNSF second railroad track through downtown. He named fellow Parkville resident Mike Sobba as his campaign treasurer.
Fellow Ward 4 Alderman Marc Sportsman spoke of Richardson when he described how they own a boat together and golf often. He said his friend is able to maintain an even keel through the many wins and losses of shared poker games.
“Over a long period of time, you get a snapshot of what people are about,” said Sportsman. “He has the ability to compromise and common sense. As my colleague, he has a strong intellectual curiosity about every issue. He is also a man of sound, solid and admirable priorities.”
One past alderman, David Rittman, was present at the gathering, the same man whom Richardson replaced when he stepped down. Rittman said in terms of qualities, his friend “has it all.”
“He’s a real talent who cares about this community,” Rittman said. “He can really make a difference. When we were without a mayor and needed him most, he stepped in and brought us through in a quality fashion.”
Richardson reminded everyone how Election Day is April 8th and there is still time for unregistered voters to sign up. He said the first day for mayoral candidates to file is Dec. 18th and he said he will be there bright and early.
“No one else has announced their candidacy yet,” he said smiling. “I would be happy to run unopposed with a united Parkville.”
Kathy Dusenbery, current Parkville mayor, has announced she will run for first district Platte County commissioner in 2008.