Even though he left office a few years ago, former Rehoboth Beach Commissioner Richard Sargent is staying active in civic affairs, albeit in a different way and place.
“I’ve got two lovely daughters, we’re living in McLean, Va. now, and they’re going to a fabulous school there,” Sargent said. “I’m really enjoying getting involved in the community there, the same way I was involved in the community here. I’m the president of the PTA and have been for two years over there. There’s something about running for something and doing something that just gets in my blood.”
An energetic talker, Sargent said his new role in Virginia is great fun, but “a significant portion of my heart is always in Rehoboth Beach, no matter what’s going on.”
He first came to Rehoboth in college 25 years ago, when Sargent and his brother got jobs as summer replacement lifeguards. Sargent’s family soon bought a house in Rehoboth, which Sargent’s parents still live in today.
Sargent served as commissioner for just over 10 years but left to move to Virginia, where his kids were living.
“They’re about the only things that are more important to me than Rehoboth,” he said.
Besides his 10-plus years on the city commission, Sargent also served as a planning commissioner from 1992 to his election in 1995.
“The planning commission is really charged with making very specific decisions and then primarily making recommendations to the city commissioners. I really wanted to be part of the city commission where the decisions were being made,” he said.
Sargent was back on the campaign trail in Rehoboth this past summer, as he helped lend a hand to his father, Bill, who was running for commissioner. In his reaction then, and now, Sargent seems more proud of his father’s victory than his own.
“To somebody that has never run for office, it’s tough to explain the humility of asking people to come out and vote for you. And when you win an election, it’s fabulous. You’ve gone out and asked your neighbors and your friends to come out and support your vision for a community,” he said. “And the only thing I can tell you that’s better than that is having somebody that you care about and respect so much win that same election. I think he’s done a fabulous job.”
Even though he lives in Virginia now, Sargent still tries to get back to Rehoboth as much as possible. He said his daughters, Anna and Kristen, love coming down to the beach to visit their grandparents.
“They love the beach. They’re beach folks through and through,” Sargent said.
While the jobs of PTA president and city commissioner may seem different, Sargent says the jobs aren’t dissimilar.
“Both of them are about getting your community involved. As PTA president, my community is really teachers, parents and students. Whereas, as commissioner here, my community was people who live in, own property and care about the city of Rehoboth Beach,” he said. “But each of those is very similar in the sense that you have to try to identify a vision, you have to try and figure out what it is you want to do for the community you are working for and, most importantly, you have to get the people in that community involved and excited about what you are doing.”
Sargent was back in town for the memorial service for long-time Rehoboth activist Nancy Martin, who passed away Feb. 10. Martin helped Sargent in his victorious 2005 campaign.
“Nancy is without a doubt one of the most beautiful, strongest people I’ve ever met in my entire life. She had a way of bringing people together,” Sargent said. “Her sense was you could bring people together for a common cause. More than anyone I’ve ever met in my life, Nancy instilled in me the sense that people have the ability to make their voice heard. She will be so sorely missed.”
Sargent has worked in the computer business for many years, including for his dad’s company, and is now working for a Canadian shipping firm.
“I try to spend as much time as I can down at the beach, and I try to be involved in whatever communities I’m in,” he said.