Bill Richardson was 75 years old. Richardson, who was 75, died peacefully last night in his sleep, according to Mickey Bergman, Vice-President of the Richardson Center. Bergman stated that Richardson spent his life serving others, both during his tenure in government and in his career afterward. “He lived his whole life in service to others, including his time as a politician and helping free those held hostage or wrongfully imprisoned abroad,” Bergman added. The world has lost an advocate for those who are held abroad unjustly, and I have also lost a friend and mentor. Richardson received a Nobel Peace Prize nomination last month for his efforts to save Americans. Most recently, WNBA star Brittney Greiner was arrested in a Moscow airport after authorities discovered hash oil in the luggage. Richardson has traveled around the globe for the past three decades to negotiate and secure the release of Americans who were detained abroad in Bangladesh, North Korea Sudan, Colombia and Iraq. Richardson traveled to danger zones including the Congo, then called Zaire in 1997, and Afghanistan in 1998 to broker peaceful power transfers and met with infamous dictators Saddam Hussein, Fidel Castro, and Kim Jong-il respectively.
The nonprofit organization the Richardson Center was created to support the former governor’s work facilitating dialogue and global peace, particularly between countries with strained diplomatic relations. Richardson positioned himself as a viable alternative to the traditional diplomatic channels. This was especially true for countries that were opposed to the established diplomatic powers. Richardson advised in his 2013 book, “How to Sweet-Talk a Shark: Strategies and Stories from a Master Negotiator,” that you should respect the other side. Humor is a good thing. Let the other person save face. “
Richardson is William Blaine Richardson, born in Pasadena California. He was raised by his Mexican mother in Mexico City. His father was an American banker.
Richardson came to New Mexico in 1978 and chose to run for political office in the state because of its Hispanic roots. He is credited with transforming New Mexico politics.
During his tenure as governor, he put in place a minimum $50,000 annual salary for the most qualified teachers statewide, an increase in the state minimum wage from $5.15 to $7.50 an hour, pre-K programs for 4-year-olds, and a $400 million commuter rail system from Albuquerque to Santa Fe.
Among other accomplishments, on the campaign trail for the 2002 gubernatorial New Mexico race, Richardson set a Guinness World record for most handshakes by a politician in eight hours: 13,392 handshakes.
Richardson ran for president in 2008, later dropping out and endorsing Barack Obama over Hillary Clinton. Obama named Richardson as his pick for secretary of commerce, but a grand jury investigation into an alleged pay-to-play scheme with a political donor who received a lucrative contract led Richardson to bow out of consideration.
State politicians praised Richardson’s legacy following news of his death.
Rep. Gabe Vasquez posted a heartfelt
describing Richardson as a “titan both in New Mexico and internationally.” “
I mourn the death of this New Mexico Legend, one of America’s most powerful Hispanics. Today, we reflect on his decades of service and for always proudly representing New Mexico,” Vazquez continued.
Sen. Ben Ray Lujan called Richardson a “giant of public service and government”. “
Here in New Mexico we will always remember our Governor. Lujan