Meredith Richards: Blazing a campaign trail

The carmine-haired candidate in the Fifth District congressional race is on her way to Cumberland County, and cell phone reception is spotty.

In her race against well-funded incumbent Virgil Goode, Charlottesville's Vice Mayor Meredith Richards spends four or five days a week traveling to some of Virginia's most economically devastated counties in a district that stretches from Greene County to the North Carolina border.

"I'm running because the Fifth District is in trouble," says Richards. "They're very demoralized in Southside Virginia, where tens of thousands are out of work with no new prospects for jobs."

Richards touts a Mark Warner message: economic redevelopment through technology. At the same time, she emphasizes that her message is "not either liberal or conservative, Democrat or Republican," and she says the biggest misperception about her is a "tax and spend liberal image."

Here are some other things you may not have known about Richards: She's pretty darn funny, and her husband does all the grocery shopping.

Age: 61

What brought you here? The lure of UVA. My husband and I came here to teach, me to teach psychology and education.

What's worst about living here? Too many good options

Favorite hangout? Home sweet home

Most overrated virtue? Patience. Now, next question?

What would people be surprised to know about you? That I was a ballet dancer and dance teacher in a previous life.

If you could change one thing about yourself, what would it be? I'd give shorter answers.

What accomplishment are you proudest of? Starting Computers4Kids

What do people find most annoying about you? Nothing. Perhaps my humility

Whom do you admire? Mitch Van Yahres he's a real life role model.

Favorite book? Under the Tuscan Sun by Francis Mayes

What subject causes you to rant? Social inequity

What thrills you about life in the 21st century? The possibilities

What creeps you out about life in the 21st century? The possibilities

What do you drive? A Geo Prism that gets 40 miles per gallon

What's in your car CD player right now? Rough Lines by Terri Allard

What's your next journey? Washington, D.C.

What's the most trouble you've ever gotten in? It's hard to quantify. That's all I'm going to say.

What do you regret? Not keeping up old friendships

Favorite comfort food? Pasta

What's always in your refrigerator? Orange juice and yogurt

Must-see TV? West Wing

 Favorite cartoon? [Gary Larson's] The Far Side. And my favorite one is the "boneless chicken farm."

Describe a perfect day. Exploring an Italian village, drinking cappuccino and eating pasta.

Walter Mitty fantasy? I can picture the King of Norway placing the Nobel Peace Prize around my neck.

Who'd play you in the movie? Stockard Channing

Most embarrassing moment? I've repressed them all.

Best advice you ever got? Don't take yourself too seriously.

Favorite bumper sticker? Richards for Congress

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