Student begins his political career in Mountain Home

MOUNTAIN HOME — Having just turned 20 years old, Richard Caster of Mountain Home is right where he should be according to his 10-year plan.
“When I was about 15 I made a 10-year plan for my life — graduate high school, go to college and run for justice of the peace in 2010.”
Elected at 19 years old on Nov. 2, Caster is the youngest elected official in Arkansas, taking over as justice of the peace for district two in Baxter County on Jan. 1. Though the pressures of being a young politician may be intimidating, Caster said he finds strength in his Catholic faith.
“It’s my foundation; it’s who I am and what I believe. It teaches me correct principles and molds everything I stand for and what I believe,” Caster said. “It affects my everyday life, every action I take is inspired by faith and the Catholic Church.”
Born Nov. 27, 1990, to Ron and Mary Ann Caster, Caster was raised Catholic along with his two older siblings.
“My great-grandmother turned Catholic about 40 years ago and helped convert the rest of my family,” Caster said. “Since then, they’ve shown me the faith and how to live my life.”
Growing up, Caster was homeschooled and attended Mass a few times a week at St. Peter the Fisherman Church, while altar serving at the Latin Mass started at 7 years old.
In 2007, Caster joined the church choir and became a cantor.
“Singing has just always appealed to me. Someone said ‘When you sing, you pray twice,’ and I thought it’d be a good ministry to get involved in,” Caster said. “God gave me a gift à and I thought I should use that in church.”
Caster, a tenor, said while he’s singing the “Gloria” and other songs throughout the Mass, he feels a special connection to God.
“Jesus is right there and you’re singing to him,” Caster said. “It’s so moving à and to be able to participate in the sacrifice is real special.”
Caster said he attends Sunday and Friday Masses and last year became a member of the Knights of Columbus.
“That’s a great group of guys. Very supportive, very holy and inspirational men who serve their church and families,” Caster said.
Though busy with classes at Arkansas State University at Mountain Home and church activities, Caster said he wanted to keep his political dreams alive.
At 9 years old, Caster made his first contribution to the political world during the 2000 presidential election.
“My first little political act was I got some crayons out and made some Bush/Cheney buttons for my family,” Caster said.
From then on, Caster followed his political dreams, even receiving a scholarship in 2009 to attend the Leadership Institute in Washington, D.C., which taught him how to be a conservative leader.
Though he had always wanted to run for local office in 2010, he had initially decided against running for justice of the peace because he thought the current Republican candidate, Mickey Pendergrass, was doing a good job. After praying and deciding to focus primarily on attending college, Caster said he received a phone call from Pendergrass, informing him he was running for county judge and asking Caster to run for Quorum Court.
“It was the most amazing moment for me. I felt like the Lord was showing me what to do,” Caster said. “I had a calling to serve my country.”
Caster co-hosts a 30-minute radio show “The Blessings of Liberty” on Mountain Talk 97.1, which airs Saturday mornings at 8 a.m. It’s also online at www.moutain The show is focused on national politics, and Caster said he’s had several guests speak, including political commentator Dick Morris and Michelle Malkin from Fox News.
“Being in politics is my dream and being able to talk to these people one-on-one gives me goose bumps every time,” Caster said.
Caster said his political views and decisions are directly associated with his Catholic faith.
“Being pro-life and just sticking with what the Catholic Church teaches is what I base my politics on,” Caster said.
Chris Tuthill of Whitesboro, Okla., began the radio show with Caster in the summer of 2009 when she was still living in Mountain Home and attending St. Peter. In the fall of 2009, Tuthill and her husband moved to Oklahoma, but said she makes the 10-hour roundtrip drive every week to continue the broadcast. Tuthill said because she is older than Caster, the two make a good pairing, bringing different life perspectives to the show.
“He and I have often spoken about the saying, ‘You don’t talk about politics and religions.’ For Richard, that taboo is the line he walks every day,” Tuthill said “He’ll talk about what he believes clearly with politics and religion. He’s not worried about what people might think about him.”
Tuthill also said Caster’s faith “plays a prominent role in his attitude toward his life.”
“Family and country are very important, but God comes first with Richard,” Tuthill said.
Currently in his third semester in college, Caster is working toward his associate’s degree and eventually a master’s degree in business. He is also a manager at the Colton’s Steakhouse in Mountain Home that his family owns. He said his “dream would be to open an insurance company, retire at 50 and travel the country in an RV.”
However, he said that God may have different plans.
“I feel I’m supposed to (serve the country) in a suit and tie. I think we need good people to stand up and say what’s right à We need to get a backbone back in our faith and back in politics,” Caster said. “As long as my country needs me, I’ll be serving in politics.”

Aprille Hanson Spivey

Aprille Hanson Spivey has contributed to Arkansas Catholic as a freelancer and associate editor since 2010. She leads the Beacon of Hope grief ministry at St. Joseph Church in Conway.

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