After a long career in local politics, 2015 could have been the year David Hicks stepped into the spotlight as the front-runner to be Richmond's next mayor. When he came to a crossroads this year, Hicks chose a different path: He became a judge.
A former Richmond prosecutor, Hicks had served as a top aide in the administration of Mayor Dwight C. Jones, where he was used as a fix-it man sent in to turn around city agencies dogged by controversy and dysfunction, most notably the social services and justice services departments.
He decided against a mayoral run in 2008 to back Jones, but many expected Hicks, a streetwise New Jersey native who relishes the political game, to make a go in 2016. But in February, the General Assembly appointed Hicks to the bench of the Richmond General District Court. He began a six-year term in July.
"It's an opportunity to continue to serve the public," Hicks said of his transition. "Theoretically, being a judge is something that I can more easily see myself doing for the rest of my life."
The decision wasn't a tough call, Hicks said, when he put it to a vote among his wife, Valerie, and their three children. It became "really clear," he said, that his own vote wouldn't matter.
"The one thing about politics, which I do love, increasingly it almost is like a sport, and there are aspects of it that are a younger person's game," Hicks said.
Hicks became the Richmond commonwealth's attorney in 1993 at age 33 after defeating incumbent Del. Joseph D. Morrissey in the Democratic primary. He stepped down in 2005 and became a senior policy adviser to Jones in early 2009.
As in sports, Hicks said, politicians have to adjust their game as they get older. As time goes on, you inevitably start to slip, but Hicks said he doesn't think he had gotten there just yet.
"I'd like to believe I did a Seinfeld," he said. "You leave before people show you the door."
IN HIS WORDS
My role model growing up was Muhammad Ali. He just represented standing up for what you believed in and that being tough isn't just about what you can dish out - it's about what kind of beating you can take and get up from.
Alternate profession or course of study
I wanted to be a doctor, but organic chemistry sort of got in the way of that ambition.
Something that might surprise others
I was a total nerd growing up. Comic books, glasses, skinny - the whole nine.
It's a tie between the "Godfather" series and "The Wire." I like them both because I've always found a lot of practical applications.
Something you’d like to do
I want to scuba-dive, and I'm planning on doing that next year.
Trying to be a good dad is the one that I try the most with.
Favorite thing about Richmond region
Its capacity and its potential. Probably over the 25 years I've been in public life, that's the thing that I still love about the area.
DAVID M. HICKS
Position: Richmond General District Court judge
Born/hometown: Sept. 22, 1960; Plainfield, N.J.
College: University of Virginia (undergraduate and law degrees)
Family: wife Valerie; sons Robert, Christopher and Jonathan