In a small community, friends are bound to compete against each other, whether it be in sports, business or politics.
That is the current case in Richmond County, where Gordon Tolson is vying for the Dist. 1 Supervisor seat, currently occupied by Richard Thomas.
“I know my opponent, he and I graduated together,” Tolson said in a recent interview. “I have known him as a friend and my kids have ridden his bus. I have known him for years and I have the utmost respect for him as a friend and a community businessman but he has his agenda and I have mine.”
Tolson, a well known civic leader in the community, said that while he and Thomas may disagree on crucial issues, the race will run in a manner that will serve to inform the community through education about their platforms, rather than divisive partisanship.
“Education, economy and jobs…all three are very important,” Tolson said. “My main goal is that the community and county comes back together. I am hoping to bring some harmony to the board if I win. Togetherness…I want to see the county heal.”
Born in Farnham in the upstairs of his grandfather’s house, Tolson went to Richmond County Public Schools “all the way through kindergarten and up.”
He graduated from Rappahannock in 1978, took a one-year computer course at Charles County Community College, now known as the College of Southern Maryland, and immediately after went to work for the Architect of the Capitol in 1979.
While working in Washington, D.C., Tolson also took classes to become an electrician in order to further his career.
“I started out as a laborer and then went into electric shop,” Tolson said. “I worked for Capitol Hill and Congress and during the time I was there I became the director of the Congressional Staff Club.”
According to Tolson, during his 32 year career, from which he retired last year, he met many politicians, who he learned from and befriended.
“I also became a member of the Congressional Black Associates, affiliated with the Congressional Black Caucus,” Tolson said. “To be in an environment where I had not only some very good friends and coworkers, but to meet people I probably would never had had the chance to meet…the work experience was very good for me.”
After living in the Capitol for 10 years, Tolson moved back to his hometown in 1988, commuting to D.C. daily until he retired in 2012.
During that time, he also became an invested member of the educational system in Richmond County, serving as a school board member from 1996 until 2011, when redistricting (the changing of political geographical boundaries) caused a conflict resulting in two people from Dist. 1 on the school board. He vacated his seat to allow fellow member Vivian Wood represent his region.
“It was a very good experience, getting to know how the school board and county work together,” Tolson said of his experience on the board, adding that there was a good relationship between supervisors, school board members and teachers.
“Being a part of something where I knew I could contribute to the benefit of children in this county was important to me,” he said.
Tolson is a member of Mulberry Baptist Church, where he serves on the deacon’s ministry and is known for his musical talents.
“I love music and I love to sing,” Tolson said. “I sing at church in the choir and play guitar, We used to have a little band at work, ‘Tuners’ and we played for office parties.”
Tolson and his wife of 29 years, Flo, have one son Gordon Jr. 27, a graphic artist at Lockheed Martin who designed the new Raider mascot at the High School, and one daughter, Charlsye, 14 who currently attends Rappahannock.
Tolson welcomes anyone in the community with questions or concerns to contact him at firstname.lastname@example.org or 804-761-3896.