Richardson to remain SRHA board chair

Published 12:00 am Tuesday, April 22, 2003

Suffolk News-Herald

Overcoming questions surrounding her physical capability to continue leading the board, Suffolk Redevelopment and Housing Authority Commissioner Mary V. Richardson was re-elected chairman Tuesday night.

Commissioners Mary Herndon, Daniel Forbes and Linda Brown joined Richardson in support of her keeping the top seat. Richardson also acknowledged the presence of supporters from New Hope Baptist Church and the local Democratic Party, who filled the room. Vice Mayor Leroy Bennett, who appointed Richardson, was also on hand.

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Richardson, 61, a retired physician’s assistant, has served on the board for 18 years representing the Nansemond Borough. Commissioner Roy Waller nominated board member Elizabeth Smith for chairman, who was also supported by Resident-at-large member Thelma Hinton.

Smith, instead, won support for the vice chairman seat with the addition of Forbes’ vote. Since her arrival on the board last year, Smith has posed questions that generally went unasked during meetings. A former teacher and financial analyst residing in the Suffolk borough, Smith is particularly meticulous in scrutinizing the monthly financial statements.

After reviewing records she requested last week at a committee meeting, Smith stated Tuesday, &uot;I’m comfortable that we’re doing the right thing and going forward.&uot;

Hinton – who had a vote for the first time last night during her two-year stint – was among those who felt Richardson’s health was an impediment. Richardson has suffered from diabetes and kidney failure, showing clear signs of declining health over the past two years. Tuesday night, however, Richardson was blatantly vibrant both in her demeanor and appearance.

&uot;I had concerns about her health,&uot; Hinton said in an interview after the meeting.

&uot;I also felt it was time for a change. You vote your conviction. Mrs. Richardson has done a fine job and I believe she will continue to do a fine job.&uot;

Behind the scenes, Hinton has been critical of Richardson’s support for Executive Director Clarissa E. McAdoo, insisting that Richardson coddles her. Hinton has been in the forefront in recent months criticizing McAdoo’s administrative actions inclusive of staff firings, evictions, and her abrupt two-month absence last year.

Richardson said she was aware of the concerns about her health, but that she is recovering.

As the re-elected chairman for a third term, Richardson added, &uot;I am going to work as hard as possible to make us a better authority. I am looking forward to working with the new vice chairman.&uot;

Smith will replace Forbes, who took on the role upon Charles W. Carey’s departure in February. Commenting on her new role, Smith stated, &uot;I am excited. We have a very strong board. I want to get a lot done. I’m looking forward to an excellent relationship with the city, working with Chairman Richardson, Mrs. McAdoo, finance and development.&uot;