The result, he said, is that "I am pretty comfortable with pretty much anybody."
His parents, South Ruffner and Charleston High "framed who I am," Richardson said. "If you try to live by the Golden Rule, you'll have a pretty good life."
A former assistant county prosecutor and member of South Charleston City Council, Richardson served as commissioner of the Bureau of Employment Programs under former Gov. Gaston Caperton. His responsibilities included oversight of the state workers' compensation system.
Newspaper articles of the 1990s credit Richardson with ironing out problems with the state Workers' Compensation Fund and bringing the system back from the brink of financial disaster. Richardson sued companies that were thumbing their noses at paying workers' comp premiums and started straightening out a $2.2 billion deficit.
But critics charge that Richardson did it at the expense of raising premiums and slashing benefits.
"I've never shied away from hard decisions," Richardson said. "The fund got on track toward financial solvency and the state of West Virginia eventually got a clean audit finding. That finding led to an increase in the state's bonding capacity for the first time in 20 years."
Richardson's employer, Wells Fargo, sometimes does business with Kanawha County officials. "I'm completely divorced from any of that kind of activity," Richardson said.
He said he would abstain from any votes involving Wells Fargo if he's elected to the commission.
"I would have to do that," he said. "I would avoid even the appearance of impropriety."
Richardson believes county officials need to focus more on economic development to bring business and residents back to the county. He doesn't necessarily think Hardy and County Commissioners Kent Carper and Hoppy Shores have done anything wrong in recent years, but feels county officials have gotten used to doing things a certain way.
"It's an entrenched culture," he said. "It's time for a change, and to have a fresh perspective and a new voice.
"I think we've got a great story in the Kanawha Valley. Let's take a new approach and find another way to tell it."
Reach Rusty Marks at rustyma...@wvgazette.com or 304-348-1215.