“Am I pumped?” asks a wide-eyed Cora Richardson-Hodge when asked whether she looks forward to the coming elections. This won’t be her first time: she lost by a mere 41 votes in 2010, less than a year after she accepted the endorsement to contest the seat vacated by the then Chief Minister, Osborne Fleming.
“The biggest issue was that they did not know who I was [politically],” she reflects. The years since have given her the chance to change that by getting involved in community projects throughout the East End.
“When I speak with people, it’s hardly ever about me. It’s more about them. I find out what’s going on with them,” she explains.
Initially, the St. Thomas-born lawyer wanted to be an Oceanographer. She studied at Lincoln University before transitioning to Florida Institute of Technology—unfortunately, just in time for the Environmental Engineering programme to be cut. Three fruitless years studying Civil Engineering followed before she graduated with a degree in Environmental Science, all because she “hated desk work.”
Ironically, desk work was in her future. After her mother had a run-in with a dishonest mechanic, Cora started applying to law schools within a year of returning to St. Thomas. Says Cora, “[I thought] ’if I knew what our rights were, then we could challenge him.’”
Growing up, she spent many summers in Anguilla and continued to do so as a young adult. She met her husband on one of those trips; she then graduated from law school, got married and settled here in 1999. She began her career working with Pam Webster, who’s also contesting in this year’s elections.
“I decided to run again because I believe that we need to have young people and women involved. I am glad to see that this election, more women have entered,” she says, recalling 2010, when she and Pam Webster were the only female candidates. “Women, in my view, bring a different type of flair—we’re nurturers; we’re caretakers.”
“I am glad to see that more women have entered… Women bring a different type of flair—we’re nurturers; we’re caretakers.”
Cora helped found the AXA Cares Food Bank, as well as the HOPE [Helping Our People Excel] Centre a few months later in 2011. The Centre, which offers classes in subjects like Math, Reading, and Computer Science, started with funding from private donors and volunteer community effort until, in 2014, the Government of Anguilla signed an agreement to provide ongoing funding.
The food bank, the brainchild of Claudette Bryan & Charlotte Berglund, provides groceries to disadvantaged households around the island. What started as an initiative to help a few dozen people has now grown to support over 100 homes.
The mother of two uses her own young family (her daughters are 8 and 6) to illustrate what she considers to be Anguilla’s most pressing concern. “When we’re gone, what have we left for our children?” she asks. “They are on a journey, and we need to put infrastructure in place to help them.”
“Am I pumped?” she asks once more, almost impatiently. “Yeah, I’m pumped!”