Person of the Week
Mark Richards Sees Town Council Term as Time Well Spent
Mark Richards was proud to serve on the inaugural Town Council in Clinton. (Photo courtesy of Mark Richards)
In November 2019, in a historic election for Clinton, the town’s first ever Town Council was elected. As part of that council, voters elected Mark Richards.
But for Mark, serving Clinton was nothing new.
“I always felt one has to give back to their local community,” Mark says.
One of the more visible ways Mark has given back was during his term on the Town Council from 2019 to 2021.
When that council first got seated in November 2019, there was one big order of business for the new members to solve: Hiring the first town manager. For Mark, that was part of the reason he wanted to be involved in the first place.
“I was first approached by some members of the RTC about if I wanted to run and I certainly wanted to be involved in selecting the town manager as we moved from a Board of Selectman government to a town council form of government,” Mark says.
Even after the council selected Karl Kilduff to be the town manager, things did not get easier as barely four months into the council’s term, COVID-19 hit the area.
“It was difficult because we soon had COVID to deal with and you lose the dynamic of an in-person meeting as we mainly had Zoom or Go to Meetings for the majority of the time,” Mark reflects.
However, Mark says he still enjoyed his time on the board and the way the council worked.
“I think we got it right when it comes to the town manager. I think he’s done a good job and will keep doing so,” says Mark.
As for the hardest part of being a council member, Mark says finding the right balance between new ideas and tradition can be tough. In particular, mark says this was of use during the budgetary process in particular.
“Just because we did certain things a certain way doesn’t mean they’re the right way, and it also doesn’t mean it’s the wrong way. But it’s good to sometimes take a step back and look at how things are done to see if they can be changed,” says Mark. “Change is never easy.”
In summer 2021, Mark ultimately decided that rather than seek another term, it would be better to get out of the Town Council. Mark said at the time that with more travel potentially on the horizon, it would be better for the town to have someone engaged to take his place. In the time since his term ended, Mark says he’s focused on his business.
Mark is the operations manager for Preferred Foam Products, a Clinton-based manufacturing business.
“I’m also involved with building houses. We’re doing the Tidewater development and we’re finishing up the Hammocks development, too. It’s been keeping me busy,” says Mark.
Mark, who grew up in Clinton, first got involved in the town in 1970s when he says he dabbled a bit with the Inland Wetlands Commission and the Republican Town Committee.
“In the mid-1980s, I changed my lifestyle with work so that I wasn’t traveling as much and then I was able to get involved more,” says Mark.
What people might know Mark from most is his time on the Zoning Board of Appeals,on which he served for decades.
“I was re-elected for 35 years,” Mark says with a laugh.
But it wasn’t just politics to which Mark donated his time.
“I coached little league a number of years with my sons. I was involved with youth football and high school football, too, as president of the Clinton Touchdown club and Morgan Football booster club,” says Mark.
He has also served on the Clinton Country Club board and the Community Foundation for Middlesex County.
“When you’re fortunate, you try and give back,” Mark sums up.
Mark credits his upbringing for helping instill the sense of community in him.
“My father was on the Board of Education [and] the Chamber of Commerce; he was a volunteer as well,” says Mark.
Mark says that he had a “great” childhood so for him to be able to give back to his hometown is extra special.
“I grew up here and not only did I got to The Morgan School but my wife went to The Morgan School, my parents went to The Morgan School, my grandmother went to The Morgan School, my kids went to The Morgan School, and one of my daughters-in-law went to The Morgan School,” Mark says with a laugh.
“You always want to see your town prosper and do well,” he adds on a serious note.
In his spar time Mark says he enjoys golf and landscaping since he grew up in the landscaping business.
“I get a kick out of gardening and doing the landscaping and people say I’m crazy,” hokes Mark.
As for his favorite aspect of Clinton, besides the water location which he calls “Clinton’s best asset,” Mark says it’s his fellow citizens. “It’s the people,” he says. “The people make the town.”