Mayor Rick West was born and raised in rural Chesapeake in the heart of Great Bridge off Johnstown Road. Since Rick’s father was in the U.S. Navy and deployed often, his mother and grandfather had the primary responsibility of raising Rick, his two brothers and two sisters. The West boys, Rick, Dennis and Steve, and one of his sister’s, Karen, still live in Chesapeake, where they have raised their families. Rick’s grandfather, who owned for years Cooke’s Hardware and Variety, shaped Rick’s work ethic, morals, values and principles.

In the late 1950’s, Rick remembers that there wasn’t a lot for young people to do in Southern Chesapeake. Rick and Congressman Randy Forbes, his best friend and neighbor since first grade, would sit on the Forbes’ side porch and ask each other, “What do you want to do?” In most instances, one would respond to the other, “Nothin’ to do.” In retrospect, Rick would not change his memories of growing up, which included playing with friends in the neighborhood sandlot, friendly sport competitions in the backyard, Chesapeake Little League sports, planned camp outs and board games on rainy afternoons.

Rick’s memories of Great Bridge High School remain some of his fondest to-date. Rick credits Great Bridge High’s principal, former Virginia Senator Harry Blevins, with being a huge influence in his life. Principal Blevins was responsible for instilling in Rick pride for the community and for actively helping him secure loans and scholarships to attend college.

After graduating from Great Bridge High School in 1970, Rick received his Associate’s and bachelor’s degrees from Ferrum College and Old Dominion College (University). He obtained his master’s degree in Education from the University of Virginia and his doctorate in Educational Leadership from Virginia Tech.

Rick’s first teaching assignments took him to Indian River and Great Bridge high schools. His first administrative assignment was at Truitt Junior High School in South Norfolk. Three years later, Rick became the youngest principal in the Chesapeake Public School System when he took over the helm of Southeastern Elementary School. For more than two decades, Rick proudly served as an administrator in five different schools, including brand new schools – Greenbrier and Hickory middle schools. Rick retired from public education in 2004.

Since retiring, Rick has been active in the public and private sectors, including 12 years on the Chesapeake City Council, with two of those years serving as mayor.

When asked about his career choice and his decision to seek public service, Mayor West’s typical answer is: “I have been truly blessed to have had amazing mentors, educators and friends who genuinely cared about me. Their love and guidance, along with my commitment to my faith, have helped mold and shape me into the man I am today.”