Sen. Mary Margaret Whipple Announces Her Retirement

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    I’ve been hearing this rumor for months (actually years) now, but today it’s official: State Senator Mary Margaret Whipple (D-Arlington) is retiring. Here’s Del. Patrick Hope’s (D-Arlington) statement.

    Today, we honor the service of one of Arlington’s most dedicated and admired public servants.  I know I join Arlingtonians in thanking Senator Mary Margaret Whipple for over three decades of hard work, dedication, and service.  She will surely be missed but her legacy will be long-lasting, not only to her constituents but to our entire great Commonwealth.

    My wife, Kristen, and I wish her and her husband, Tom, the very best in their future endeavors as they travel and enjoy time with their daughters and grandchildren.

    According to Project Vote Smart, Whipple had a 100% pro-choice rating, a 100% Equality Virginia rating, a 100% AFL-CIO rating, and an “F” from the NRA. Sadly, Whipple exits following a harsh blow to reproductive freedom in Virginia, sustained yesterday in the State Senate as Republicans pulled off a last-minute sneak play. Not the greatest note to say goodbye, but I wish Mary Margaret Whipple a happy retirement, and thank her for her service. Now, I expect a multi-candidate race for her seat, the only question being how many.

    P.S. Names I’ve heard mentioned as possible candidates for this seat include Bob Brink, Patrick Hope, Barbara Favola, Mike Signer, Alan Howze, and a cast of thousands! 🙂

    P.P.S. My attitude towards open seats in “blue” districts is simple: get the strongest, most progressive candidate elected. Period. Why wouldn’t we? That’s what conservatives do in “red” districts; we should settle for no less.

    UPDATE: Nicholas Benton points out that Mary Margaret Whipple was the “lst woman to hold a leadership position in State Legislature.”

    • NWVirginian

      Lowell – in which district do you live? I think it’s time you step up and run for something. Put your money where your mouth is, so to speak. 🙂

    • tweets: “Thanks to my friend Sen. Mary Margaret Whipple for so many years of leadership and service. Arlington and Virginia will miss her badly.” The question is, will Mike run for Mary Margaret’s Senate seat?  

    • tweets: “wow – another one! Senator Whipple announces her retirement. She’s been a champion for Arlington, good government, and progress.”

    • tweets: “Senator Mary Margaret Whipple just announced her retirement. She will be greatly missed. A loss for NoVA and a classy legislator.”

    • tweets: “My friend and colleague Sen. Whipple from Arlington just announced her retirement. She will be greatly missed.”

    • tweets: “Senator Whipple just announced her retirement too! A leader who will be missed and can never be replaced.”

    • in a press release says:

      Mary Margaret has shown how to be both principled and effective, and she’s done it with grace, determination, and, above all, civility. She’s been my political mentor and the best friend my family and I could ever hope for.

      On the Arlington School Board and County Board she gave life to Arlington’s historic commitment to world-class public schools, smart growth policies that create a sustainable environment, and an inclusive, welcoming community in which each person is important,” Brink continued. “In the General Assembly, she is a nationally recognized advocate for the environment. If we’re able to save the Chesapeake, much of the credit will belong to her.

      She is simply irreplaceable.

    • in a press release says:

      Sen. Whipple has never lost sight of the importance of expanding educational opportunity for all, and she has also been an outstanding chair of our Commonwealth’s Senate Democratic Caucus. However, it was the vision she applied to urban planning and tackling Northern Virginia’s transportation problems that will leave the most enduring impact on our region. Through her leadership on the County Board and the WMATA Board of Directors, Senator Whipple transformed Arlington into a vibrant and exciting place to live and work by planning a series of world-class urban villages.

    • Sen. Mary Margaret Whipple Announces Her Retirement

      RICHMOND- Today, Arlington Democrat Mary Margaret Whipple announced that she will not seek reelection to the Senate of Virginia.

      Whipple is the chair of the Senate Rules Committee and Economic Development and Natural Resources Subcommittee of the Senate Finance Committee.  She also serves as the chair of the Senate Democratic Caucus, making her the first woman to serve in a leadership position in the General Assembly.

      “This has been a year of milestones:  last spring I had my 70th birthday; in the summer my husband Tom and I celebrated our 50th wedding anniversary; and this year marks my 35th year of public service, from the time I was appointed to the Arlington School Board in 1976.  Today I’m adding another milestone: I’m announcing today that I will not run for re-election to the Senate this November,” said Whipple.

      I came to this decision after a great deal of thoughtful consideration.  I won’t pretend that it is an easy one, but I am confident that it is the right one though, of course, the hardest part will be leaving such dear friends.”

      First elected to the Senate in 1995, Whipple is known for her work on environmental issues, including patroning the Virginia Nontidal Wetlands Protection Act and establishing  the Natural Resources Commitment Fund. She also founded the Virginia Commission on Energy and the Environment.   Whipple was named Legislator of the Year three times by the Chesapeake Bay Foundation.  In 2009, she chaired the environment committee of the National Conference of State Legislators and currently serves on the Citizen Advisory Committee of the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency.

      “I leave you with unfinished work and many challenges.  Pay attention to resource depletion and all its implications; continue to provide educational opportunity and access for the children of Virginia; care for the least among us, as I know you will,” said Whipple  on  Friday afternoon to her fellow senators.

      She also challenged them to serve the people “with energy, intelligence, imagination, and love.”

      Whipple’s Senate colleagues bid her a tearful farewell on the Senate floor and agreed that Whipple’s departure will leave a void in the Senate.

      “She cannot be replaced and I think she will be remembered for many years in Richmond. I will always remember her as a friend,” said Sen. Patsy Ticer, D-Alexandria.

      “Mary Margaret will be missed by all of us in the Senate. I don’t she will be replaced. She will be succeeded,” said Sen. Henry Marsh, D-Richmond.

      Whipple’s colleagues also complimented her on her knowledge, integrity, quiet strength and compassion.

      Whipple is known for her advocacy of housing, transportation and health care issues.   As a long time member of the Virginia Housing Commission, she has supported affordable housing in the Commonwealth.   Whipple has been named Legislator of the Year by the Virginia Interfaith Center for Public Policy for her work on housing issues and human services.

      The George Washington University graduate is the longest-serving member of the Northern Virginia Transportation Commission and has been president of the Virginia Transit Association.

      As an advocate for health and human service issues, Whipple’s legislation includes revisions to advance medical directives, increases in the livable homes tax credit, licensing of home health agencies and a major revision in Virginia’s parking laws for disabled persons.

      Prior to her election to the Virginia Senate, Whipple already had an extensive record of public service. She was appointed to the Arlington County School Board in 1976 and served twice as chair of the Arlington County Board after being elected to the board in 1982.  For ten years, she also served on the board of directors of the Washington Metropolitan Area Transit Authority.

      The senator and her husband of 50 years, Thomas S. Whipple, have two daughters and five grandchildren.

    • Cool_Arrow

      Whipple and Ticer will be greatly missed but I am hoping that we take this as an opportunity to elect two young solid progressives who can be great team players for years to come. We need people in these safe districts to be able to raise money and promote the cause. Not that Whipple and Ticer weren’t doing this but this is a good opportunity to “reinvigorate the bench”. I’m sure that there will be lots of people interested in this seat as there are with Ticer’s seat.  

    • tolbejr

      This is a sad day for Virginia’s environment.  Both Senators Ticer and Whipple were committed advocates to protecting the Commonwealth’s natural resources, and in the past week both have announced their retirement.

      Not only does this leave a hole in the Virginia Senate that will be difficult to fill, but it also leaves vacant the two most senior post on Senate Agriculture, Conservation and Natural Resources.

      Whether it has been fighting back against mountaintop removal or leading the way on restoring the Chesapeake these two allies are truly irreplaceable.

      Unfortunately, that’s not how the political process works.  While it is my hope that both Senator Ticer and Senator Whipple are replaced with progressives who are as capable as they were the unfortunate truth remains that Roscoe Reynolds and Phil Puckett are now in line to chair this committee.

      While Northern Virginia has the potential to gain from this announcement, Virginia’s environment is sure to lose.

    • We will miss the calm, steady leadership of  Mary Margaret Whipple. Mary Margaret has always provided a principled voice within her caucus. She also  consistently demonstrates the power of civility and courtesy to her colleagues in the Senate, and we will miss her leadership.

    • Today is a sad day for Arlington and Virginia as Sen. Mary Margaret Whipple – the first woman elected to a leadership position in the Virginia General Assembly – announced her retirement.  Senator Whipple’s strong leadership and legacy of advocating for women’s rights and public education, among a host of other important issues, should serve as an inspiration for all aspiring legislators. I wish her well in her retirement.

    • “My hat goes off to Senator Whipple for a distinguished career of service to Arlington, our region, and our state. She has been a leader in the Senate, a champion for the environment, and a strong advocate for good government. I wish her and Tom all the best!”

    • “Major loss in the State Senate today as Mary Margaret Whipple (D-Arlington) has announced that she’s stepping down. Mary Margaret was a first-class person and a true leader on issues such as water quality and the environment. She was also the Chairman/”den mother” of our Senate Dem Caucus, which meant that she dealt calmly with myriad personalities and agendas. We will miss her a lot.”