Former Richmond Mayor Sally Hutton died yesterday.
I followed Mayor Hutton’s political career since arriving in Richmond. It always struck me how accessible, genuine and forward-thinking she was in her approach to community-building and city governance.
It felt like her door was literally always open – whether it be her office at the City Building, her house or wherever she found herself around town. Whatever she was working on, she seemed to keep the needs of Richmond’s everyday worker, resident and small business owner at the center of her perspective. Mayor Hutton was of the people, by the people and for the people in a way we rarely see with modern elected officials.
I was thankful to Mayor Hutton for the encouragement and support she offered me around my own political aspirations. Even from early days of celebrating some milestones for the business I co-founded here, she took every opportunity to nudge me into running for office. I didn’t always agree with her political strategy or approach to administration, and was sometimes public in my disagreement, but she always seemed to understand that it came from a place of respect and caring about our city in the same ways she did. When I did run for Council she was generous with her time and advice, and I will treasure the days when we walked door to door in Richmond’s neighborhoods together, talking to residents about what they wanted from local government.
Sally was great about encouraging people from all walks of life to rise to the challenge of service to our community. I think she saw it as a basic part of the deal for living or working here: if you benefit from what Richmond is and does, then get out and help make that better in your own way, whether it be cleaning up our streets, mentoring young people, pitching in at events, or diving in to local politics. Sally had no time for the pomp and circumstance that could have gone with being Mayor – she had too much to do, and too many people to help. May we all learn from her example.
Your work is finally done, Sally. Rest in peace, Mayor Hutton.
Photo by WayNet.org