Alexandria, VA – Inducted into as an Alexandria Living Legend in 2008, Stephen Rideout has never stopped serving his community and the children who live in it. His legacy includes helping establish Alexandria’s model court system, becoming a powerful advocate for children, a leader in foster care and child adoption, and the tremendous change he affected as Chief Judge of the Juvenile and Domestic Relations Court in Alexandria from 1989-2004.
In 2009, after retiring from the bench, Rideout and his wife Bobbi bought a second home in Cambridge, MD. He was traveling a great deal doing consulting work for child welfare programs around the country. “I would get home and my wife would say, ‘we have to go to Cambridge to cut the grass, shovel the snow’ and I was exhausted. I was born in D.C., grew up in Bethesda and lived in Alexandria…all my life had been inside the Beltway.”
He had done a lot of research on Cambridge and knew there were many challenges in the school system. “I thought I can be of service there,” he said, and in 2010 they made the permanent move from Alexandria.
Soon after arriving, a group of citizens approached him and said they needed his help with the local government. They had no city manager and no professional management staff to run the city, and suddenly he became one of their biggest helpers. They worked for two and a half years to change the city charter to make Cambridge a Council-City Manager form of government in 2015.
Rideout decided to run for city council in 2016—unopposed. “I said I’m serving one term and I’m getting out,” stated Rideout. He did step aside, but not for long. When the mayor of Cambridge was apprehended in July of 2022 for a salacious scandal, they needed a replacement. Rideout “felt it was something [he] needed to do.”
August 2022 saw the mayoral race, and September saw a runoff. Rideout took 55% of the vote. He is now finishing the term of the previous mayor – a little over two years.
When his term concludes, Rideout said he and his wife are going to travel, but they “will continue to be involved in ‘Moving Dorchester Forward’ (he’s a founding member)… A group of us have come together to focus on different areas with educational workstreams: mental health, community involvement and parental engagement.”
His advice for those exploring their third or fourth act: “As you get older, start thinking: What am I doing, and why am I doing it? For myself, I’m doing it to try and make life better for some people. I live in a relatively poor community with low-paying jobs and there are a lot of people who are struggling.”
He still has roots in Alexandria, his daughter Amanda and family reside in Del Ray and they visit often. Rideout says he will truly never retire. “I love what I do, and at the same time, I love hanging out with the dogs and going out to dinner with my wife, too.”