Retired Air Force Col. Richard L. Anderson is running to be the delegate for Virginia’s House 51st District. The Republican will compete for the seat in a November election against Democratic incumbent Paul F. Nichols.
Service to the nation is a “calling,” said Col. Anderson in an interview with The Washington Times, held at the headquarters of the Prince William County Republican Committee. He is fueled by the same inspiration that pushes people to be doctors, nurses, police officers, firefighters, ministers and teachers, he said.
The candidate was born and raised in Roanoke. He was interested in politics throughout his youth. He received a degree in political science from Virginia Tech.
Col. Anderson was in the Air Force for nearly 30 years, rising from an ICBM launch crew commander and ending his career as the military assistant to the deputy undersecretary of defense for technology, security and national disclosure in the Office of the Secretary of Defense. Shortly after he retired from the Air Force this year, he decided to run for office. He had many options but felt a great pull toward public service.
Col. Anderson has an extensive support network for his endeavor. His wife, Ruth, is retired from her role as a lieutenant colonel in the Air Force and is active in the local Republican Committee, serving as its secretary and the president of Prince William Republican Women. His former colleagues, both in the Air Force and many in the other services, have given both spiritual and financial support for his campaign. The constant relocation in a 30-year career have provided a large contingent of former neighbors, friends and church members who have offered encouragement.
Col. Anderson has been working the phones and knocking on “thousands of doors,” he said. He has discovered that Virginians have four major issues on their mind.
“Transportation, traffic and congestion” are at the forefront of their concerns, said Col. Anderson. He seeks to bring improvements “not with paving but rather with transit.” He blames politicians in Richmond for not crafting substantive solutions and admits that transportation is one of many issues that made him want to get involved.
The next major concern is jobs, he says. He wants to protect existing jobs and put the unemployed back to work mostly by keeping taxes low, producing more energy and encouraging businesses that hire more workers.
Virginians are also concerned about the economy, he said. He said that transportation, jobs and the economy go hand in hand: If you improve one, you positively affect the others. He has been talking to the business community and thinks that it will be the small businesses that will pull us out of our current economic problems. He stated emphatically that “we must preserve, protect and defend” small businesses.
The fourth issue that Col. Anderson is hearing most at front doors is education. He is keenly aware of how budget cuts and the reduction in classroom assistants is affecting the quality of education. One teacher told Col. Anderson that he was spending $1,500 a year of his own money for classroom supplies. The candidate is indignant that senior staff members in the school system appear to be self-interested rather than making improvements for those who work hard in the classroom.
When Col. Anderson was asked what he wanted to tell men and women in the Air Force who might be thinking about following in his footsteps into politics, he replied without hesitation: “Do it. Americans have been running for office since the beginning of our nation. The motivation to run has been as varied as the people who run. However, for those who love their country, there is no better way to exhibit that love than to run for office.”
• Lt. Col. Bill Card is retired from the Marine Corps. He and his wife live in Dumfries, Va.