The Power List 2008

Our fifth annual ranking of the people who run this town

1. William H. Goodwin Jr.

If Richmond had a Godfather, he’d answer to Bill Goodwin. In a year filled with so much upheaval at City Hall and across Richmond’s corporate landscape, the billionaire boss of CCA Industries emerges as the indisputable Midas Man.

Few people know it, though. Goodwin’s the muscle behind Virginia Commonwealth University President Eugene P. Trani (No. 4), who’s taken hits for cozying up a little too close to Philip Morris and for the scandal over former Police Chief Rodney Monroe’s college degree. Goodwin’s also morphed into the conscience of Mayor L. Douglas Wilder (No. 9), regularly consulting with the Silver Fox, who decided against running for a second term. “He has been extremely involved with Wilder,” a source says. He’s also working to bring peace to the war at City Hall over the powers outlined in the new city charter.

Power in Richmond can be a fickle thing. It rarely comes in violent waves as it has under Mayor Wilder, a former No. 1 Power Lister who’s spent the last three and a half years bashing the city with his massive ego, so much so that he’s driven many of the old-guard business elites to the sidelines.

Another strong force, Gov. Timothy Kaine (No. 5), has been blazing a trail for national Democrats and could be Obama’s running mate. But in Richmond he’s chumped by House Republicans and can’t seem to gain traction.

Goodwin, however, is a rare breed. His top billing is not so much a story of ascent — he’s been in the top three since Style Weekly launched the Power List five years ago — but of his knack for rising above the city’s internal influence-mongering. Unlike Trani, he’s the only one with allegiances to Wilder who emerges unscathed. His low profile allows him to escape, for instance, the very public misstep that was the Gang of 26 letter from the business community last year calling for a return to an appointed School Board. But when the gang’s ringleader, Dominion Resources Chairman and Chief Executive Thomas Farrell (No. 2), puts together the search committee for a new school superintendent, he consults with Bill — first.

Ultimately, Goodwin derives his power from wealth. He’s a billionaire, but he refuses to acknowledge he’s worth more than, say, $100 million (see Virginia Business magazine, “The Virginia 100”). “He’s the richest guy in Richmond — probably by a wide margin,” a top local fundraiser says.

That’s only half the story. Goodwin makes his money then turns around and gives it back. He made his first major play stringing together various credit lines to purchase a tanking AMF Bowling, turning it into a bowling alley manufacturing machine so efficient that it rivaled Toyota. He sold it in 1996 to New York brokerage powerhouse Goldman Sachs for $1.4 billion, giving 5 percent of the proceeds back to the employees and lopping off $120 million to start The Community Foundation (see Darcy Oman, No. 38). He and his wife, Alice, also gave Trani $100 million — for a new business school in Monroe Ward and for the Massey Cancer Center. Yet somehow Goodwin slips out the back door, avoiding much publicity.

He knows when to invest (see West Creek business park, which he co-owns with partner Booty Armstrong, No. 14) and, more important, when to get out — he and partner Armstrong sold AMF just before the bowling market receded.

But when it comes to Wilder, Goodwin has stuck with him even as fallout from the mayor’s tumultuous reign leaves a power vacuum in Richmond. “There is a kind of a consensus around the table that the boys’ club, as it was, has really kind of changed,” the fundraiser says. “Leadership has become a lot more diffuse, a lot more broad. The Gottwald [No. 8] influence has dissipated. Stewart Bryan at Media General [No. 33] has kind of stepped down. Wachovia is no longer the big bank in town.”

In other words, there’s room for new blood. Till then, there’s Goodwin.
2. Thomas F. Farrell II
Yes, the fireworks are over. Thomas Farrell, chairman and chief executive of Dominion Resources, is this year’s power-jumper (from No. 7 to No. 2). Chaos and political hardball may have been the themes of years past, but expect a bit of a calm in the coming year. Farrell is a measured, efficient, no-nonsense kind of boss whose lawyerly skills are the antithesis to Wilder’s arm-swinging. He’s become the go-to corporate bigwig in town, chairing multiple power circles — including the top-secret management roundtable and several Wilder committees. He recently joined a number of corporate committees at Altria Group Inc., including one charged with overseeing the Philip Morris parent company’s social responsibility.

He and Goodwin are close allies, and both are regular fixtures in Wilder’s second-floor office at City Hall. He’s more hands-on than Goodwin, though, and is fresh off winning very favorable terms for reregulating the state’s electric industry and fuel-cost-related rate increases. Farrell’s wattage has also increased significantly in city dealings. He’s keenly interested in education matters, was a member of the board of visitors and a former rector at his alma mater, the University of Virginia, and is a financial angel to St. Joseph’s, an ailing Petersburg parochial school. And then there was the “Gang of 26” School Board letter — a seeming misfire — which Farrell allegedly orchestrated. But he’s since had the last laugh, heading the search committee for Richmond’s next school superintendent. And sources say his fingerprints are all over mayoral candidate Robert Gray’s decision to run.

3. Michael E. Szymanczyk

News of a secretive Virginia Commonwealth University/Philip Morris research agreement was a glimpse into the literal and figurative smoke-filled backroom deal, but the tobacco industry promises that long-term exposure to loose ethics does not cause cancer or birth defects. Love or hate Philip Morris USA (and the millions in taxes and revenues that its relocation to Richmond injects in the local economy), Mike Szymanczyk is one of Richmond’s go-to guys. A bit of a corporate recluse in the past, he’s been branching out lately. He’s active in various higher-education causes and recently took a seat on Farrell’s school-superintendent-search committee. He’s also top dog at Philip Morris’s parent company, Altria, which recently moved to Richmond. And his company’s benevolent hand dispenses big money to area causes. Like, um, VCU.

4. Eugene P. Trani

Oh, it gets better. Not since his historic backpedaling out of Oregon Hill has VCU President Eugene P. Trani faced this much upheaval. A veritable one-two punch –former Police Chief Rodney Monroe’s miraculous two-course degree and those pesky research agreements with Philip Morris — opened up a torrent of angst among faculty, professors and others who have been idling angrily in Trani’s shadow for years.

He’s still a major force. Trani is responsible for rebuilding large swaths of downtown Richmond, including North Broad Street near Carver. His new business school is a bridge to the financial district, in that no man’s land previously known as Monroe Ward. But Trani is nursing some serious wounds — literally and figuratively. He suffered chest pains two weeks ago and had quintuple coronary-artery bypass surgery — ironically, under the knife of a cardiac surgery program that seriously declined on his watch. Storied programs can fall apart, it turns out, when you focus on building buildings in your name instead of academics. With Wilder on the way out, Trani’s also losing his spot on the mayoral speed dial. Get better soon, Trani.

5. Gov. Timothy M. Kaine

His stint as governor is up in January 2010, so might we soon be addressing him as President Kaine? No, no, not that president — though he has been making the rounds with and for Sen. Barack Obama lately and still floats at the bottom of the veep contender chum bucket. But with Trani’s retirement expected next year, Kaine is said to be interested in VCU’s top slot. If only he can dodge that political Mack truck they call the General Assembly. AŸ’A,.AŸ.Ar??�­A,?AŸ??A,?

6. James E. Ukrop

Who should be happiest about Wilder’s last five months? Why, that’d be Jim Ukrop. It’s been three years since Wilder’s “he doesn’t own me” snap at Ukrop in 2005, but it’s somehow stuck to the old grocer. Probably because he’s such a nice guy. And perhaps because he’s the most grounded of the business elites. The chairman of First Market Bank and Ukrop’s Super Markets threw his support and money behind Bill Pantele (No. 26) when everyone else in the room wanted Bob Grey (No. 40). He’s kind of the “crazy old liberal” of the business bunch. It’s still true, as one power broker puts it, “nobody works harder for the city than Jim Ukrop.” And guess who’s looking up from spot No. 9?

7. Stanley F. Pauley

Retirement? Ha. At 80, the owner of privately held powerhouse the Carpenter Co. has his eyes on strong, steady revenues. Stanley Pauley’s foam-and-cushion manufacturer posted sales of $1.65 billion in 2007. The quiet Pauley and his wife, Dorothy, lead Richmond giving by example. Just ask the Virginia Museum of Fine Arts, the Richmond Symphony, VCU Medical Center, etc. Corporate donations may come and go, but solid, dependable philanthropists (and the Pauleys’ two foundations) have lasting power.

8. The Gottwald Family

Undoubtedly, the Gottwald family is one of the most influential in Richmond by virtue of its combined wealth, conservatively estimated at well over $700 million. The companies in which members are involved, most notably the pioneering Ethyl Corp., employ about 8,000 people worldwide. The family is not afraid to spread its wealth and nudge influence around Richmond, most recently getting behind the new downtown performing arts facility, CenterStage. As the Times-Dispatch Christmas Mother, Nancy Gottwald drummed up $325,000 for disadvantaged children and families. The Gottwalds are big Republican boosters, contributing more than $700,000 to various statewide Republican candidates over the years.

9. Mayor L. Douglas Wilder

No one ever said the devil wasn’t powerful; it just took us a little too long to figure out which side Wilder was on. Another five months and it’s all over, but that’s not the worst part. It’s the making nice. And it will be thick come January. The business community, the governor and all manner of local politicians will recite the reasons why Mayor Wilder is such a groundbreaker, how he blazed the trail for mayors to come, how he put the ship on the right course. And if Obama gets elected, God help us: Wilder will personally take credit for all of it.

Truth is, Wilder was a total and complete flameout. Do you think running off all the talent at City Hall and increasing spending by more than $10 million is “eliminating waste?” Or nearly shutting down City Hall and frittering away $1 million to show your displeasure with a $1 lease is making the “hard” decisions? Oh, we get it, eliminating cesspools of corruption takes tough love, like letting your son and his cocaine habit take the fall for $170,000 of your missing campaign funds.

Wilder’s power, it turns out, was something to behold. So much so that even with only a few months left in his term, the business community tiptoes around him, hoping not to wake the sleeping bear, who at any moment could arise and start thrashing, killing us all for a jar of honey. So smile and say how much you love him. It’s for the best.

10. Allison P. Weinstein and the Weinstein Family

It’s been a very Weinstein year, starting with a $9 million donation to the University of Richmond, where Allison Weinstein is a trustee, and mom and dad, Carole and Marcus Weinstein, enjoy private dinners in the president’s home. The family business — the 11,000-unit Weinstein Properties management company — makes enough to spread to other arenas. This summer, Allison held fundraisers for Sen. Barack Obama and Alexandria Delegate Brian Moran, a Democratic gubernatorial hopeful, at her house.

11. E. Claiborne Robins Jr. and Family

He’s not the business mogul his father was, but E. Claiborne Robins Jr. follows — and now leads — the family tradition of philanthropy. (And his wine-importing business isn’t bad either.) He’s on the inside track at the University of Richmond, where his family has given more than any other donor (about $180 million, including a critical $50 million gift that resurrected the university in 1969). The influence is also felt at the SPCA, Collegiate School, Lewis Ginter, Virginia Historical Society and Maymont — which in October elected Robins a lifetime trustee.

12. Virgil R. Hazelett
He may have dodged a bullet when los federales came with matching bracelets for his friend, developer Robert Atack. The dust-up over the county’s overpayment for property owned by developers like Atack certainly left some scuffs on the Henrico County manager’s shoes. But Virgil Hazelett, in office for 16 years, is now the esteemed elder statesman among metro-area municipal heads. Heck, who can argue with a man who commands the U.S. Post Office to grant him his own ZIP code?

13. Michael D. Fraizer

The mortgage-lending crisis has taken a big chunk out of Genworth Financial, which owns the country’s fourth-largest mortgage insurer, and manages $114 billion in assets. The company’s stock hit all-time lows last week, falling below $15. That could explain why Michael Fraizer — chairman of the board, president, chief executive — has hasn’t had much time to assert himself in local power circles of late. Fraizer and his wife founded the Mary & Francis Youth Center at VCU. Fraizer is also hosting a Sheryl Crow concert at the Siegel Center in October to benefit at-risk children in the city.

14. Beverley W. “Booty” Armstrong

He stepped aside in the heat of Wilder’s War on Richmond, but Booty Armstrong’s making a comeback. The chairman of the increasingly successful regional airport commission is asserting himself in city politics again and the influential but top-secret management roundtable. He’s Tonto to Bill Goodwin’s (No. 1) Lone Ranger, but the longtime partners in CCA Industries have been at odds over Wilder (Goodwin’s still a supporter). Both are working to bring together City Council and Wilder (No. 9) to hash out possible charter changes in the next General Assembly session, to boot.

15. Edward L. Ayers

The University of Richmond’s new president has been welcomed with a year of jubilee and major donor gifts. The former University of Virginia dean brought his academic, fundraising and leadership A-game, displaying what one former colleague called his “Irritating Optimism Gene.” He’s also become a hot commodity in civic booster circles. With the addition of a new satellite campus downtown, Ayers has planted a flag showing his intention of getting UR more involved in city affairs. Did we mention Ayers and Trani (No. 4) meet every month for breakfast?

16. Peter Bernard

Bon Secours Health System, owners of four Richmond-area hospitals, bills itself as a “healthcare ministry.” And CEO Peter Bernard is rising in stature. Insiders say he’s far more assertive than his counterpart at HCA, and Bon Secours is known for a superior work environment, which helps in recruiting the best doctors and nurses. Bernard is also taking over three hospitals in Hampton Roads as head of Bon Secours Virginia, a development announced just last week. An aggressive hospital chain run by nuns? Could be worse.

17. Robert S. Ukrop

Despite this summer’s shutdown of the chain’s Broad Street location and the gobbling of market share by Wal-Mart, Food Lion and Kroger, little, local Ukrop’s Super Markets has managed to hang on as the region’s No. 1 grocery chain — barely. Bobby Ukrop, the community-conscious president and chief executive of the 80-year-old family business, still oversees some middle-of-the-last-century habits — no Sunday hours and no beer or wine. But Ukrop’s has been forward-thinking with innovations in organic food offerings and prepared foods. It also sends used frying oil to a bio-diesel refinery. Ukrop is also good at raising money (ask University of Richmond) and was just named co-chairman of the Greater Richmond Partnership’s $18 million campaign.

18. The Markel Family and Alan I. Kirshner

Richmond’s niche insurer, which underwrites such things as parks, horses and day-care facilities, has taken a hit amid a downturn in the property and casualty business. Last week, Markel’s share price dipped to $320, down from November highs in the $550s. Probably just a hiccup, though. The Markels and company Chief Executive Alan I. Kirshner have earned a reputation for mirroring the success of Warren Buffett’s Berkshire Hathaway. Markel’s chief investment officer, Tom Gaynor, has been mentioned as a possible successor to Buffett. Locally, Steve Markel and his wife gave $10 million to Virginia Commonwealth University’s new business school in Monroe Ward.

19. John A. Luke Jr.

Next to the Federal Reserve Bank downtown, the headquarters of MeadWestvaco Corp. takes shape. While the steel rises, Chief Executive John Luke makes sure the presence of his Fortune 500 company is felt beyond the walls. Luke, his management team and the company’s foundation are settling into pet causes. As one power broker observed, “They came into town with the full intent of being players.” And there’s still time for Luke to chat with fellow Power Listers at the Country Club of Virginia.

20. Margaret G. Lewis *

She’s back! After climbing the corporate hospital ladder from nurse to hospital chief executive to corporate management, Margaret Lewis promoted herself right out of Richmond. Her assignment to become president of HCA’s capital division in 2006 took her out of town, but a reorganization announced in late June brings her home to Richmond half-time and bumps Patrick Farrell out of contention (he’s market lead for the Central Virginia market of HCA’s Capital Division and takes over as chief executive of Henrico Doctor’s Hospital). Lewis will oversee the largest hospital group in the region which, for all intents and purposes, is also the region’s largest employer with nearly 7,000 full-time workers.

21. Delegate M. Kirkland Cox

When he’s not teaching high-school government classes, Kirk Cox schools his colleagues in legislative maneuvering. Though officially only the majority whip, insiders call him the shadow speaker in the narrowly Republican-held House of Delegates. He’s also led the GOP’s rejection of Gov. Kaine’s (No. 5) transportation package. His power seems to grow even as his party’s majority, and the current speaker’s muscle, melts away. “Cox writes the budget,” one Democratic sympathizer sighs. He has a bright future — if he doesn’t end up in minority leadership next year.

22. C.T. Hill

As bankers go, C.T. Hill is Richmond’s alpha male. It’s a bit sad that the top banker in town reports to the Atlanta-based headquarters of SunTrust Bank, but at least it’s not Charlotte, N.C. Hill also serves as chairman of Richmond Ventures, the most influential booster club in town, and was one of Wilder’s committee guys. But he gets points for not getting too close to Doug. He’s also on the School Board’s committee to find Richmond’s next superintendent.

23. State Sen. John C. Watkins

The longtime Chesterfield County senator’s developer-friendly bill failed this session, but lived far longer than expected. Sen. John Watkins is a competent budget negotiator, but the Democrats control the Senate and his formerly moderate Republican allies are taking the opportunity to reconnect with their conservative roots. Watkins may become isolated into ineffectiveness — until then, he’s a maverick. And he still has his family’s vast landholdings along state Route 288 in Midlothian, where the Watkins Centre development promises to dwarf Innsbrook.

24. Attorney General Robert F. McDonnell

Bob McDonnell is Gov. Tim Kaine’s ideological opposite, but the two have cultivated a rare mutual respect. Lt. Gov. Bob Bolling laid his coat in the mud for McDonnell to trod across, settling the Republican gubernatorial nomination a year ahead of schedule. The 2009 GOP statewide ticket looks downright adult, but may not age gracefully. The transportation plan McDonnell took credit for orchestrating last year imploded. He backed an electricity rate hike that’s going to jolt statewide consumers — never mind the Democratic-leaning, traffic-jammed demographic that political insiders like to call “Northern Virginia.”

25. Rep. Eric I. Cantor

Snug in his relatively safe 7th District, a friend calls Rep. Eric Cantor the “champion of the overdog.” Big business loves him, local pols look up to him and as chief minority whip of the House of Representatives, he’s a rare specimen in the Republican leadership — not peeled away by scandal or performance, or replaced by a Democrat. A recent burst of blogospheric veepstakes speculation has provided a streaming recitation of his political strengths. He’ll be at the head of the line for speaker of the house if Republicans regain the majority.

26. William J. Pantele

If there is anyone who has earned the right to be Richmond mayor, it’s City Council President Bill Pantele. He’s led the Wilder Resistance Team, survived a computer-porn smear attempt and won decisive court battles against the mayor, including Wilder’s attempt to hire and fire council staffers. Pantele, though, may have squandered it all by giving up his council seat to run for the top job. He’s up against Dwight Jones (No. 39) and Robert Grey (No. 40), and lacks street cred in most city districts.

27. Theodore L. Chandler Jr.

LandAmerica Financial Group is taking it in the teeth right now, but Ted Chandler, president and CEO, has been out in force this year as a community mover and shaker. Under his term as chair of the Greater Richmond Chamber, he brought back “leadership” consultant Jim Crupi to set the city straight. Now he’s on board with the Capital Region Collaborative, a group of a dozen-plus local government and business leaders, with the idea of making the plan a reality. He’s part of the inner sanctum of Richmond power and has become, perhaps, he most influential executive from Chesterfield County.

28. James J.L. Stegmaier *

Rookie Chesterfield County Administrator Jay Stegmaier probably would rather be herding cats than trying to tame his Board of Supervisors, a panel now made up mostly of strong-minded freshmen who’ve yet to adapt to the unified vision more typical of area government boards. As a result, Stegmaier’s still ordering from the children’s menu when it comes to regional issues. A lifelong bureaucrat and staffer, Stegmaier also has yet to show he’s the chief, not just the right hand of predecessor Lane Ramsey.

29. Richard Cullen
Mayor Wilder’s redlining test drive of the new City Charter took Richmond on a wild ride without aid of a legal GPS — and the man riding shotgun, holding an upside-down, coffee-stained gas station map? None other than McGuireWoods chairman Richard Cullen, whose firm has billed the city for about a half-million dollars to fight Wilder’s court battles. Cullen also served dutifully in federal and state prosecutorial capacities, and since ascending to his Richmond-based law firm’s top spot, he’s continued his high-profile legal career mostly defending GOP interests.

30. Pamela Reynolds and the Reynolds Family

She’s always been buzz-worthy, but the colorful Pam Reynolds really has folks talking about her turn as board president of the Virginia Museum of Fine Arts. We’re not talking party planning (although she’s good at that too). Reynolds runs the show. Board members seem pleased with her leadership and strategic planning. And as costs climb beyond expectations for the museum’s much-publicized expansion (to be completed next year), Reynolds has found a way to keep that money coming in — for both the building and the endowment. Her husband, Richard S. Reynolds III, chalked up a success at this week’s Virginia Civil Rights Memorial dedication. He was chairman of the foundation’s fundraising committee, to which the Reynolds Foundation gave a lead gift of $400,000.

31. G. Gilmer III and Charlotte Minor

Gil Minor stepped down as CEO of Owens & Minor in 2005. His wife, Charlotte, headed VMFA’s search for a new director last year and oversaw the capital campaign for the new expansion. The Minors have been fairly quiet of late, though he’s still chairman of the $6.8 billion medical supplies firm that recorded $1.79 million in sales in the first quarter of 2008.

32. Thurston R. Moore

Law firms are in full effect. At Richmond’s largest, Hunton & Williams, Moore leads the executive committee. The University of Virginia grad (B.A., J.D.) also works alongside Pam Reynolds (No. 30) as a vice president and trustee of VMFA and is tied to the Virginia Foundation for Independent Colleges, VCU School of Business Foundation and the Virginia Performing Arts Foundation. As for Hunton & Williams, one of the firm’s own — Robert Grey (No. 40) — has a good shot at being Richmond’s next mayor.

33. J. Stewart Bryan III

At 70, Stewart Bryan has announced his planned retirement later this year from active leadership at Media General, parent company of The Richmond Times-Dispatch. He’s getting out at a good time: The company and its flagship paper seem to be charting a course full speed ahead and straight down. Accordingly, Bryan also drops on our list, but his importance as a pillar in the community does not diminish. He’s an authoritative voice in the corporate conversation, and even as his family paper struggles, it continues as the daily diary of the community’s ups and downs.

34. Michael N. Herring *

The other half of Richmond’s crime-fightin’ duo, Richmond Commonwealth’s Attorney Mike Herring, never got the unrestrained public fawning and praise accorded the city’s recently departed police chief, Rodney Monroe. But then nobody’s questioning Herring’s academic credentials. And his record speaks for itself: He gets convictions and talks tough about crime trends — specifically his theories about a rise in armed robberies. He walked the fine line on Wilder’s troubles with the state electoral board and came out on top. Now some say he’s being groomed for bigger and better things.

35. Thomas J. Folliard

CarMax is struggling to unload all those SUVs and reported a 55 percent profit drop in the first quarter of 2008, but the company’s future remains one of Richmond’s bright spots. Tom Folliard, chairman and CEO of CarMax, essentially built the company’s $8-billion-a-year sophisticated system of buying and selling used cars, which will allow it to stay in front of a market shifting to smaller cars. Warren Buffett buying your stock isn’t a bad sign either. And considering its former parent, Circuit City (see Philip Schoonover, No. 68), CarMax is still better off.

36. John B. Adams and Michael Hughes

The Martin Agency’s been sitting pretty since the Wal-Mart mega-account landed in its lap last January — but in a commonsense, down-to-earth kinda way, not in a pervy, sex-scandal involving your top marketing executives kind of a way. (Though that’s one surefire idea to get free headlines.) Since winning the account, the agency brought on 150 new hires. Under creative director Mike Hughes, the team has collected accolades for their various campaigns, including the innovative multi-narrative caveman/gecko/celebrity-shilled GEICO account. CEO John Adams also sits on the Venture Richmond board of directors and was among the 26 business leaders agitating for an appointed School Board.

37. Jeffrey M. Lacker

Jeffrey Lacker, president of the Federal Reserve Bank of Richmond, may not be a voting member of the big board this year, but he earned a reputation as a maverick by casting the lone dissenting votes four times in 2006, trying to persuade his fellow bankers to raise interest rates. Considering the nation’s financial quandary, it’s a big “I told you so.” Lacker is the director of the World Affairs Council of Greater Richmond, and sits on the board of directors at the Richmond Jewish Foundation.

38. Darcy S. Oman

Most people on this list hoping to secure salvation or a tax break — or, less cynically, striving to leave a legacy of good works — have probably given their money to Darcy Oman. As president and CEO of the 40-year-old Community Foundation, she helps oversee growing assets of more than $660 million and places it in the hands of local charities — $46 million in grants last year to more than 700 nonprofits. The foundation just entered a unique co-investment partnership with the managers of the University of Richmond’s endowment. As private and corporate ventures founder in a sea of red, Oman remains a beacon of green.

39. The Rev. Dwight C. Jones *

The state legislative black caucus has made incremental progress, but insiders say it has little to do with its chairman, Delegate Dwight Jones. A top-tier candidate in the mayoral race, he has the most pull in the black community, pastors First Baptist Church, South Richmond, and has the endorsements of several ranking politicians. He often touts his church’s redevelopment efforts in Manchester, although a number of properties remain empty shells. Past squabbles with his parishioners over the sometimes blurry line between church and development finances may prove to be his Achilles’ heel.

40. Robert J. Grey Jr.

Among the mayoral candidates, the downtown lawyer is the business community’s guy — an impression reinforced by a recent campaign-finance report whose donors overlap with signatories of the now-infamous “Gang of 26” letter advocating for an appointed School Board. As Wilder’s chosen successor, Robert Grey led the reconstruction effort after the mayor decapitated the first go-round on the performing arts center, but to gauge his own personal influence around town, we’ll have to wait and see.

41. The Rev. Lance D. Watson

This church is big stuff, with a big leader. And it’s not one to shy away from a big personality that, say, Barack Obama might leave in the dust. Nope, St. Paul’s Baptist Church has welcomed the Rev. Jeremiah A. Wright Jr. to the pulpit — he’s friends with the Rev. Lance Watson — and he recently stopped by the church’s Life Empowerment Super Conference. Former Gov. Mark Warner also dropped in on Sunday to talk up the Civil Rights Memorial. No biggie. This is a congregation that sees some 7,000 folks turn out for its annual homecoming. Wait till the centennial celebration next year.

42. Robert C. Sledd

You’re bothered by $4-a-gallon gas? Not the biggest priority for the estimated 4,600 to 6,900 people in the region who worry about where they’ll spend the night. After 18 months of study, in January the homeless-services agency Homeward released its 10-year plan to prevent and end homelessness here. Freed up after the recent sale of the company he co-founded, Performance Food Group, for $1.3 billion, Robert Sledd has been a central figure in tackling homelessness as chair of Homeward and as a board director for the Better Housing Coalition.

43. State Sen. Walter A. Stosch

Sen. Walter Stosch was the state Senate’s majority leader until Republicans lost control of the chamber last year. The defeated Senate caucus gave the minority leadership spot to a fellow moderate, let Stosch keep his huge office suite and made up the title leader emeritus. Some say that while he’s not CEO anymore, he’s still chairman of the board. Others say a veteran senator who had to spend $1 million to win his primary by a sliver should see the writing on the wall.

44. Thomas A. Silvestri

Sometimes finding a hobby is the best way to get your mind off your troubles. It’s a philosophy that’s definitely worked for the dapper young publisher of the ailing Richmond Times-Dispatch. His leadership of the town’s daily paper has disappointed some former newsroom peers and readers. But as Rome burns, he’s fiddling away as a booster and emcee of multiple town hall forums. He’s vice chairman of the Greater Richmond Chamber and as such sits on the Capital Region Collaborative, a group of local leaders working on a regional strategic plan. Silvestri’s confronted Richmond’s angst, and both the proletariat and business leaders agree he’s a solution seeker.

45. Ivor Massey Jr. and Family

Well, the Gilmore for President donations didn’t pan out and the investments in Mark Warner’s brief presidential bid imploded, but how bad can it really be for the Masseys? Motorcycle-riding Ivor Massey Jr., the family money manager, still has a net worth in the neighborhood of $100 million and a lovely new wife, Maureen Dunlea, community relations director at Markel Corp. Thanks to a $1 million pledge, the couple will be the namesake of the new Library Technology Center at J. Sargeant Reynolds Community College.

46. Robert L. Burrus Jr.

His work in helping tap the new president of the University of Richmond is a thing of the past, but the buoyancy of Ed Ayers’ (No. 15) successful first year highlights Bob Burrus’ decision-making skills. He sits on the boards of Smithfield Foods, S&K Famous Brands Inc. and Amvest Corp. and keeps a hand in cultural causes. The chairman emeritus at McGuireWoods also maintains a wide power network.

47. Marshall N. Morton

A hard impact is inevitable, but the chief executive of Richmond-based Media General isn’t quite ready to deploy his golden parachute. Back in 2001, stock in the company was trading in the $70 range. Today, industry-wide tanking of media stocks barely explains the company’s $11-a-share trading price. Marshall Morton staved off the eventual rough landing by ham-handedly rebuffing attempts by Harbinger Capital — a Cayman Islands-based hedge fund — to take over three board seats of the company that publishes the Richmond Times-Dispatch. But the writing, observers say, is on the wall.

48. Raymond H. Boone

He may obsess over Barack Obama and despise the Ukrop brothers (Nos. 6 and 17), but Boone’s got game. The publisher of the Richmond Free Press constantly rails about so-called racial injustices that take place at the Richmond Times-Dispatch (did he mention the T-D invented Massive Resistance?). And his presence at Democratic functions — onstage most times — is a journalistic no-no. But he’s the advocacy press, and he advocates better than anyone. And when he turns on you, you’re toast. Just ask Wilder.

49. Judge Margaret P. Spencer *

She’s Doug Wilder’s personal judicial speed bump. Richmond Circuit Court Judge Margaret Spencer was supposed to have been at an out-of-town judicial conference with the rest of the city’s judges on that fateful Friday night in September when Wilder moved to evict the School Board from City Hall. She’d already proven herself a legal thumbtack in Wilder’s rump, but putting the kibosh on Fiasco Friday made her more than a petty annoyance. Subsequent rulings on this and other mayoral oversteps of city charter authority significantly restricted Hizzoner’s power this year.

50. James W. Theobald *

Jim Theobald is the cold water on the city master plan, injecting a dose of land-owner perspective into the populist plan. A legal iceman, he represents the riverfront Echo Harbor property, which he steadfastly insists will not become a public park. Chairman of the Hirschler Fleischer law firm, Theobald’s cold hands guided rezoning cases in some of Henrico County’s biggest development projects — including last month’s major expansion of the already sprawling Wyndham subdivision near Short Pump. His dispassionate insistence on law over emotional citizenry is tempered by a warm, fuzzy side: He’s involved in various civic organizations, including Goodwill and the YMCA.
51. Eva Teig Hardy

The Richmond corporate community’s star fixer, Eva Hardy makes things happen by getting all parties on the same page. She did it for years as top lobbyist for Dominion Resources before retiring this past year. Insiders say she flexed her muscles collecting corporate autographs for a letter advocating a repeal of Richmond’s elected School Board. By most accounts, public reaction to the letter tarnished those who were a party to it, but Hardy remains that key reserve waiting for Dominion chief Farrell’s cue calling her back into the game.

52. William J. Martin *

He’s dry, he’s wry. Bill Martin’s straightforward, pinpoint assessments of where Richmond’s been and where it’s going (and what can go wrong along the way) draw respectful attention and spur discussion. With leadership transitions at many local museums, the longtime director of the Valentine Richmond History Center has become a dean of the city’s cultural institutions. Just out of the gate is an effort to help the arts and cultural community develop a cohesive, long-term plan. With so many voices, he smartly underplays his role.

53. Umesh Dalal

City Auditor Umesh Dalal’s audits of city and school procurement earlier this year uncovered potentially millions of dollars in waste and further damaged Mayor Wilder’s claims of being a fiscally conservative waste buster. Superintendent Deborah Jewell-Sherman announced her retirement — a birthday present, she said — days after Dalal’s April release of an audit of her books. Did we mention Wilder (No. 9) isn’t running for re-election?

54. State Sen. Henry Marsh *

The last living law partner of civil rights lion Oliver Hill, Henry Marsh became chair of the state Senate courts committee this year. Sure, he may have snoozed through many of the hearings, but no judge will get on the bench in Virginia without going through Marsh. (Though freshman Sen. Donald McEachin’s deal-making may be where the real juice lies.) A longtime Wilder antagonist going back to their days as roommates, Marsh cross-examined Harry Black last year while representing City Council in a suit against the mayor.

55. Richard L. Sharp

Boy, Circuit City Stores could really use former CEO Rick Sharp these days. Sharp’s a big Republican donor and proponent of school choice, as well as a key investor behind the Crocs shoe craze. He’s part of Richmond’s inner sanctum of power, but there are bumps. Richmond airline startup MAXjet went bankrupt in December — he was a key investor with Bill Goodwin (No.1) and Booty Armstrong (No. 14) — and he threw that party for President Bush at his Goochland mansion last year.

56. Michael Paul Williams

To some archconservative Richmond Times-Dispatch readers, columnist Michael Paul Williams has long represented an incursion of the black radical left into the Gray Lady’s lily-white pages. But this year even some of his naysayers must admit that Williams’ voice of reason resembles the lone prophet crying out in the desert. His astute analysis of city foibles — he took the lead in chastising Wilder (No. 9) — often comes days before the editorial page even notices. It’s almost like they’re waiting to see what Mike says. In many ways, we all are.

57. Katherine E. Busser

Longtime Greater Richmond Chamber chief Jim Dunn has retired, and out-of-towner Kim Scheeler will replace him soon. After leading the committee that found Scheeler, Katherine Busser finds herself in an integral spot during the transition as incoming chair of the chamber’s board. She’s executive vice president for card infrastructure at Capital One, yet unlike colleague Jory Berson (No. 58), she’s a familiar face in the community, serving the YMCA and United Way and chairing Gov. Kaine’s Start Strong Council. An insider says a recent session with young professionals left them “extremely enthused and motivated by her leadership.”

58. Jory A. Berson

He’s the highest-ranking local executive of a crucial corporate presence, Capital One Financial Corp. But as for leveraging his power locally, we know little about Jory Berson. Anonymous philanthropist? Who knows. Golfing buddy of Tom Farrell? Doubtful. One community-related item on his bio: the Richmond Management Roundtable, where he dishes with other execs. So maybe he isn’t into climbing local ladders, one reason he falls on the list. At 38, he’s spent 15 years at Cap One, taking over as president of financial services in December — and overseeing more layoffs.

59. Gordon F. Rainey Jr.

He’s a powerful lawyer at a powerful law firm, but lately Rainey’s been more focused on Wahooville than the Capital of the Confederacy. The double-graduate (B.A., J.D.) of the University of Virginia is also a former rector of its governing board, and serves as national chairman of the campaign to raise a few billion dollars for Mr. Jefferson’s university. It’s all good at Hunton & Williams. After all, Thurston Moore (No. 32) is a double-grad too. You should see them at the tailgates.

60. The Sowers Family

Chesterfield County’s most influential developers are doing things the right way. George “Buddy” Sowers Jr. is the key player behind Roseland, the 5,000-house development in western Chesterfield recently approved by the new-look Board of Supervisors. Members of the Sowers family could have carved up their 1,400 acres and squeezed out more money. But they went the hard way — condensing the project, preserving land and offering a new school as a proffer. Sure it’s big, but Roseland could have been bigger and far less responsible.

61. Ralph L. “Bill” Axselle Jr.

The senior Williams Mullen attorney and former state delegate remains a big force as a lobbyist at the General Assembly and attorney for area developers. But Bill Axselle’s desire and ability to influence may be waning as he coasts toward his career sunset. He didn’t get the judgeship he sought on the State Corporation Commission. But he’ll remain the lubricant in many a deal in city and county rezonings and on the floor of the General Assembly for as long as he chooses to stay in the game. And if Williams Mullen gets its way with building a downtown high-rise, he’ll have a spiffy new office.

62. John W. Snow

Chrysler is an American car company again thanks to Snow’s Cerberus Capital Management, but maybe Americans should wish more carefully: Snow and the vulture fund he heads announced restructuring plans this month that may cut as many as 12,000 jobs. Sadly, the announcement didn’t include euthanizing the lamentably ugly PT Cruiser. Snow maintains a residence in Richmond, meaning he could have a huge profile here (Cerberus pulls more dough than McDonald’s), but it seems his desire to play in our sandbox is limited.

63. Ellen Robertson

Her power starts in 6th District neighborhoods where she began as a community organizer, but City Councilwoman Ellen Robertson also chairs the finance committee, the body charged with setting the fiscal tone and priorities for City Council. Her big hiccup came by labeling as criminal Wilder’s chief administrative officer, the widely respected Sheila Hill-Christian. Robertson ducked to the shadows after the gaffe, but most recently her mojo returns as she advocates for city charter changes.

64. Viola O. Baskerville

The state secretary of administration has been by Gov. Kaine’s (No. 5) side since he was mayor of Richmond and she was on City Council in the 1990s. Since then Viola Baskerville’s cultivated a reputation for nurturing other African-American women in Richmond’s political scene. Baskerville may not be the most glamorous, but she has the platform to push major advancements in minority procurement.

65. Wallace Stettinius

Widely respected, Wallace Stettinius remains an influential and appreciated Richmond leader. He’s further away from his days as chairman and chief executive of Cadmus Communications Corp., moving into the academic world, and his active role in power circles has slowed. Yet he remains generous with his time and advice. He’s helped more than 200 nonprofits, and last October Leadership Metro Richmond named him the recipient of its Verizon ArAŸ’A+’AŸ??A,?te Award for service to the community.

66. Charles S. Luck III and Family

In a down economy, rocks are sturdy. And that’s good if you sell them, like Goochland’s Luck Stone Corp., the ninth-largest crushed-stone operation in the United States. The company spent $25 million expanding its headquarters in Manakin-Sabot last year, and Charles S. Luck III and son Charles IV, are big community givers, involved in the YMCA and the Virginia Museum of Fine Arts. They’re also getting sexier. Luck Stone recently put on a stone-aged fashion show, Elements 2008, fusing rocks with cutting-edge designs in a show modeled after AŸ’A+’AŸ??A,?ber-hip Fashion Week in New York and Milan.

67. Richard E. Toscan *

VCU’s School of the Arts doesn’t typically produce wealthy alums, and the Anderson Gallery has been deficient for years, but it’s the heartbeat of Richmond’s growing arts community. As dean, Toscan has helped grow the school into one of the country’s best. U.S. News and World Reports ranks the graphic design, fibers and crafts program top among public schools and puts VCU sculpture No. 1. The students may need Want Fries With That 101, but the department-run campus in Qatar brings the school $1.5 million annually.

68. Philip J. Schoonover

You know things are bad when hostile investors turn up their noses at your business. Blockbuster took one look at Circuit City’s books in June and said no thanks. Sure, the company was faltering before Schoonover took the helm as chief executive, but the company lost $164 million in the first quarter. That’s $1.8 million a day. The good news? Schoonover, with $17 million in annual pay (or nine days worth of losses) told shareholders: “If you look at our largest competitor [Best Buy], this is still a healthy business.” No, not really.

69. Rachel Flynn *

In her two years as Richmond’s director of community development, Rachel Flynn has become the brainy queen of the gadflies. She’s juxtaposed a lively vision for downtown with an NPR soundtrack. With former Police Chief Rodney Monroe gone, she’s the only appointee Wilder seems to let work unsupervised. Flynn’s battles with developers and landowners have stirred the pot, but her public credibility still rests on how much of the city’s new master plan comes true.

70. The Sauer Family
Who’s heard hide or hair from the plenty-rich scions of spice? Sure, Broad Street in the vicinity of their downtown headquarters smells nice. But if C.F. Sauer’s made fertilizer from processed manure, they’d make it smell bad, so this hardly constitutes benevolence or power points. Still, the family is valued at more than $250 million, though it’s difficult to gauge its involvement in local causes. The Museum of the Confederacy gets Mark Sauer’s attention, though that institution has its own set of troubles.

71. Dan Gecker

He started his public life as a community activist, railing for smart growth and land conservation. But Dan Gecker has managed to take his message mainstream — first on the Chesterfield Planning Commission and now as a member (some say heir-apparent to the chairman’s seat) of the county’s Board of Supervisors. An expert in the use of historic tax credits — he taught the course at VCU — Gecker’s a well-known presence in the development scene in Fredericksburg and Richmond.

72. Delegate Jennifer L. McClellan

She’s still an up-and-comer in the House of Delegates, but Jennifer McClellan is bright and competent and has earned serious respect from her colleagues with her handling of the payday lending restrictions this year. It’s her broader portfolio of commitments, though, that puts her on the list. As a superdelegate she briefly made national headlines when the Democrat switched from team Hillary to team Obama, and her day job as a Verizon megalawyer suggests serious longevity.

73. Ted Ukrop

People named Ukrop account for 4 percent of the Power List, but there’s really no way around acknowledging it: the ascendancy of this next generation of Richmond’s grocery store family. With his wife, Katie — subject of a recent feature in Domino and part of hip Quirk gallery — Ted Ukrop is, in the words of one admirer, “stepping up” into the role of community leader and downtown booster. Vice president of construction at Ukrop’s owned First Market Bank, he’s involved in other local development projects too, including renovation of the old Richmond Memorial Hospital. The son of Jim (No. 6) is also on a number of significant local boards and chairs the board at the Valentine Richmond History Center.

74. Paul Goldman

Yeah, he gives us headaches too. Goldman, the longtime political guru and Wilder sidekick, just might possess the sharpest mind in state politics, but he’s — what’s the word — crazy? He’s never learned when to pull back. Sure, he’s running for mayor and he seems to have a plan. But for every good idea (selling tax credits to build schools), he’s got a ridiculously bad idea (closing the streets in Carytown). And did we mention he’s a nut job?

75. Ross Catrow and John Murden

Richmond’s online community has a streak of serious civic engagement because of the infrastructure provided by John Murden and Ross Catrow. Murden built, modeled and then shared his template for neighborhood blogs. Now a dozen outlets across the city keep tabs on micropolitical issues and neighborhood meetings. Catrow’s aggregator,, serves as a central clearinghouse for each new post from more than 300 local writers on a myriad of topics, and a rash of play-by-play pregnancy stories. Their innovations have quickly built a new forum, nurtured a fresh pantheon of pundits and welcomed scorekeepers in the arena of public accountability.



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