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.”

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