51. State Sen. Henry Marsh
He's not the lion he once was as a civil rights lawyer, but the chairman of the state Senate's powerful courts committee still isn't someone many people are eager to oppose. His backing of a pair of carpet-bagging candidates in local elections backfired this year. But people think he holds sway over Richmond's Mayor Dwight Jones (No. 12) — whether or not that's true.
52. Ellen Robertson
Mayor Jones wanted her for City Council president. He didn't get his wish, but Ellen Robertson remains his ace in the hole — vice president and chairwoman of council's powerful budget committee. Earning second chair doesn't keep her from playing lead, either. She's successfully pushed for a Shockoe Bottom study to consider the historic district's post-baseball future.
53. Jory A. Berson
So credit-card companies may not be what the country's banking on, but Capital One Financial's what we have. Based in McLean, the company is a major local employer and community supporter. A Cap One man since 1992 — when he was in his 20s — Jory Berson keeps a low profile locally but was recently promoted to chief human resources officer. He faces huge industry shifts and a second-quarter loss of $276 million.
54. Richard E. Toscan
Virginia Commonwealth University arts dean Richard Toscan survived Trani — no mean feat — and he's convinced the university to build a new gallery for his nationally ranked program. Despite the accolades and famous alums, Toscan's old sidekick, Joe Siepel, the public face of the department, has defected for a competitor and will be missed.
55. Gordon F. Rainey Jr.
The loss of others on the Power List is Hunton & Williams Chairman Emeritus Gordon Rainey's gain. Former rector of the board at the University of Virginia, Rainey's a ripe old 68 at a firm known for its hard and fast retirement age of 65. So it must know there's still gold in them thar' hills.
56. Charles F. Luck and the Luck Family
Luck Stone hasn't been immune from the sagging economy, which has hit the home-construction business especially hard. Goochland-based Luck Stone, one of the biggest crushed-stone operations in the country, eliminated 150 positions last year but remains in good hands under the direction of 49-year-old Charles Luck IV, who manages the company with a value system similar to Ukrop's Super Markets.
57. Ralph L. “Bill” Axselle Jr.
The Shockoe Bottom ballpark plan didn't even play nine innings. Former Henrico County House of Delegates member Bill Axselle, a lawyer who represented the project, evidently doesn't derive power from his most recent successes or failures. The charred remains of the Highwoods Properties' plan scrapes right off his tailored Teflon suits and he's ready to cook again.
58. James W. Theobald
Hirschler Fleischer's chairman is the go-to lawyer for big-time developers who don't have time for slowpoke, namby-pamby planning commissions, so it's a matter of debate why Jim Theobald keeps beating the dead-horse Echo Harbour proposal. In the real world, good-sense planning principles and near-unanimous public opinion surely trump high-priced lawyers. … right?
59. Robert L. Burrus Jr.
The chairman emeritus of McGuireWoods no longer is head honcho at one of the top two law firms in town, and at least one of his corporate board directorships has dissipated with the tanking of the Richmond economy (see S&K Famous Brands). The University of Richmond trustee is still part of the big-boy network, though.
60. The Sauer Family
With so many great Richmond businesses falling on their swords, C.F. Sauer moves up almost exclusively by default. The first family of spice owns prime real estate on West Broad Street, and the largely low-key Sauer family is plenty involved behind the scenes at real Richmond institutions, like the Museum of the Confederacy.
61. William C. Bosher Jr, William H. Leighty and Lane B. Ramsey
Just about everyone on this list has sought advice from these godfathers of good government: Bill Bosher, education guru; Bill Leighty, chief of staff for Govs. Warner and Kaine; and Lane Ramsey, czar of Chesterfield County for 20 years. The big guns became hired guns this year when Leighty and Ramsey joined Bosher's eight-year-old government consultancy, Decision Research.
62. Robert C. Sledd
The former chief executive of Performance Food Group, Robert Sledd is managing partner of Pinnacle Ventures and Sledd Properties, a venture capital and investment company. He serves on corporate boards for Owens & Minor and SCP Pool Corp., and works for housing reform with Homeward and the Better Housing Coalition.
63. Byron C. Marshall
He hasn't even hit town officially, so the true potential of the city's new chief administrative officeris unknown. But Marshall talks impressively about reinvesting in city neighborhoods and reconnecting them to downtown. During his brief stay here in June he impressed City Council members by phoning-in neighborhood fixes of problems that had gone ignored for years.
64. Katherine E. Busser
It would have been a tough year no matter who chaired the Greater Richmond Chamber of Commerce, but critics say the organization's response to the financial crisis was particularly underwhelming under Busser and the new chief executive and chairman her search committee ushered in. Now that her term's over, the Capital One Financial executive vice-president can focus on what appears to be a true passion: early childhood development.
65. Bryan T. Norwood
Quiet and unassuming is a dangerous posture to take in a town that loves a motor-mouthed crime fighter. With pressure from below (rank and file remain unconvinced) and from above (he's a convenient political reset button for Mayor Jones if crime spikes), Richmond Police Chief Bryan Norwood looks far from bulletproof.
66. Delegate Jennifer L. McClellan
In the realm of politics, perception is reality, and Delegate Jennifer McClellan is perceived as capable and effective. Never mind that her legislative portfolio is devoid of big wins since her work on payday lending two years ago. She switched endorsements for president — trading Clinton for Obama — and navigated the gubernatorial primary without losing friends. McClellan for governor 2017?
67. Daniel A. Gecker
Real estate attorney turned developer turned Chesterfield County supervisor, Dan Gecker is widely viewed as a smart politician with a grand vision, whose reach extends into the city. His liberal-leaning politics and regional outreach make his election the hallmark of the possibility of a new Chesterfield.
68. Dr. Sheldon M. Retchin
With new Virginia Commonwealth University President Michael Rao (No. 20) still wet behind the ears, it's Dr. Sheldon Retchin, chief executive of VCU Health Systems, whose medical muscle has plenty of flex. He employs 8,000, oversees transformative downtown construction projects — and it was his folks who saved Trani's life.
69. J. Robert Mooney
Love it or hate it, the downtown performing arts center, CenterStage, would not be opening its doors this fall without Bob Mooney's leadership. Beset on all sides — media, government, arts groups all have griped about the process — the businessman believes in the project so much he donated his time to steer it through choppy waters to completion.
70. William J. Martin
OK, everyone seems to love Bill Martin, head of the Valentine Richmond History Center. He accomplished a Herculean task last year pulling arts groups together to fund an important local study of the arts and cultural community, securing his reputation as a community leader. While leaders work on putting the study into action, this year Martin also must get back to scraping together funds for his museum.
71. W. Austin Ligon
The founding chief executive of Carmax, Austin Ligon guided the Circuit City's upstart sibling through its toughest years, but since retiring in 2006 he's kept a low profile in Richmond power circles. He re-emerges this year because of his commitment to Democratic gubernatorial hopeful state Sen. Creigh Deeds, to whom he's already given $100,000.
72. Laura Lafayette
The consummate insider, Laura Lafayette was promoted to chief executive of the Richmond Real Estate Association this year. It's a powerful position that she's leveraged beyond her backyard. A confidante of many higher-ups on this list, she's become a guiding force for housing reform and ghostwrites for lawmakers on the topic.
73. Richard L. Sharp
His star has dimmed with the corporate implosion at Circuit City, where he was former chairman and chief executive. Then Crocs, the business in which Sharp was a key investor, lost $185 million last year. He's still rich and connected, but that party for President George Bush at his Goochland County mansion now seems so, well, Circuit City.
74. The Sowers Family
It's been a tough year to be in the real estate business, especially if you're Chesterfield County's biggest residential developer, like the Sowers family. The massive 5,000-house Roseland in the western part of the county no doubt will take a little longer to develop, but we're betting the McMansion model isn't dead — yet.
75. John Murden
From his defensive ground high atop Church Hill, part-time blogger and full-time teacher John Murden shows that a force of one can take on a seasoned army of hundreds. Church Hill People's News (chpn.net) makes and breaks news, often putting the daily paper — and, um, the weekly — to shame.