Van Yahres to Retire

Delegate Mitch Van Yahres (D-Charlottesville) announced this evening that he will not be running for reelection. After 24 years in office, Mitch has cited both age and the need for a new generation of leadership as reasons ending his lengthy service in the House of Delegates. Cue a half dozen Democrats and one foolish brave Republican declaring their candidacy. Press release follows, and the Progress already has a story by Bob Gibson on their website, which is impressive.


For Immediate Release


Charlottesville, VA -Delegate Mitch Van Yahres announced today that he won’t seek re-election to the House of Delegates. Van Yahres, a Democrat who has represented the 57th District since 1981, is 7th in seniority in the House. He has been virtually unopposed in his re-election efforts for much of his tenure.

Speaking at a Charlottesville Democratic Party fundraiser at the Monticello Events and Conference Center Van Yahres said, “I’ve been in politics since I was first elected to the city council in 1968. That adds up to 37 years – almost half my life. It’s been a wonderful experience, but it’s time for it to end….

“Since 2000 the level of petty partisanship in the House of Delegates has increased to almost intolerable levels. Democrats spend all our time trying to defeat the increasing number of bills that attempt to take away people’s rights; whether these efforts are directed at women, non-Christians, gays, immigrants, or anyone else that the majority party doesn’t like. The General Assembly used to be about protecting rights and helping those who can’t help themselves. Now it’s about a narrow conservative political ideology and getting re-elected….

In order for this to change we need more energetic young members. So I have decided to step down to let a new generation of Democratic leadership take over. On the positive side, this year I have seen a new spirit in the House Democratic Caucus. A new Democratic delegate from the 57th district will be well situated to help guide the party’s resurgence….

“Mostly, I’ve enjoyed my time in the House – it’s been a privilege to serve. During my tenure I have been lucky enough to have worked with some of the great names in Virginia politics….

“I want to thank the citizens of the 57th for the good will they’ve shown me over the years. And, I want to thank my wife Betty for putting up with my political life. Without her patience, understanding, and willingness to raise our family practically alone, I couldn’t have done this.”

Delegate Van Yahres is particularly proud of the legislation he introduced to include intervention and remediation in the Virginia Standards of Learning; his resolution that resulted in the first in the nation apology for the eugenics movement; and his four year effort to secure a public defender’s office for Charlottesville and Albemarle County. But perhaps one of his most memorable achievements was helping to facilitate the first productive meetings between Virginia’s health and tobacco communities; two groups that until then could find no common ground. He is the General Assembly’s leading advocate for industrial hemp as an alternative crop for Virginia’s struggling tobacco farmers.

About what’s next, the 78 year old former tree surgeon said, “I’ve had four careers so far and I’m sure I have a fifth one in me. I’m just not sure what that is yet.”

5 thoughts on “Van Yahres to Retire”

  1. Toscano has long hungered for Van Yahres’ place. Meredith Richards aspires to a political comeback. Since both Toscano and Richards are Meadowcreek Parkway supporters the Dem. insiders who ‘Borked’ Ms. Richards out of her City Council nomination will be hard put to choose between them. Though this time the nominating body will be more than just city voters.

    No word as yet from Councillor Caravatti (also a pavement proponent) who in the past has expressed frustration with Richmond and an eagerness to go over there and straighten them out. He and Toscano are buddies. I speculate Toscano will cut a deal. Post-dated political checks to be redeemed in legislation on Caravatti’s pet peeves, in exchange for his standing aside.

    Will former Mayor Cox come back from teaching in Cambridge and throw his hat in the ring? An African-American representing Charlottesville would be a hard choice to argue with.

    It is also an interesting question who the Republicans will run. Rick Sincere probably has more bi-partisan support and electability than Councilor Schilling, whose postering has incited Dems to slavering, frothing-at-the-mouth hatred. And Sincere has free time to spend in Richmond, since the job of public relations flack and Chair of the Elections Commission is undemanding. Ah but will the county Republicans go for a Gay Libertarian? What if the major qualification of the only other Republican candidate is, he’s quick with a knife?

    Standing back from all this–Van Yahres filled what was once Thomas Jefferson’s chair with wisdom, practicality, and gentle temperance and good humor. A statesman trully in the best Jeffersonian tradition. Will any of these have the gravitas to succeed him?

  2. It’s nothing short of astonishing that in your article you make these accusations, but nowhere do you provide the vaguest shred of evidence to back up your claims. You link to numerous articles, most of which don’t even mention Mitch, and those that do don’t provide any sort of link between him and urban renewal, leave alone in any sort of context relevant to what you’re talking about here. Regardless of whether or not what you claim is true, this article falls so short of what can be called journalism that it lands closer to slander.

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