Virginia State Sen. Mary Margaret Whipple, who has represented the 31st Senate District that includes Arlington and the City of Falls Church since 1996, announced today that she will not seek re-election this year.
Virginia State Sen. Mary Margaret Whipple, who has represented the 31st Senate District that includes Arlington and the City of Falls Church since 1996, announced today that she will not seek re-election this year. Whipple is chair of the majority Senate Democratic Caucus and the first woman to hold a leadership position in the Virginia State Senate in history. A series of statements praising the accomplishments of Whipple have been issued by the legislative colleagues today.
The Virginia Democratic Legislative Caucus issued the following statement on Whipple’s announcement this afternoon:
“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.