The announcement came on Christmas Eve. Del. Marian Van Landingham (D-45) will not seek re-election in November and will not attend the 2005 session of the General Assembly. The colon cancer for which she was treated two years ago has metastasized and requires immediate treatment.
"I didn't want to second guess the doctors and wait," Van Landingham said. "I thought it best to begin treatment immediately. I plan to participate as much as I am able in the upcoming General Assembly session and finish out my term."
Van Landingham has spent the past week and a half planning for that participation. "I have a WATTS line that will allow me to dial up and listen to committee and sub-committee meetings," she said. "Also, I will be able to vote electronically after votes have been taken on the floor. My vote will not count but my vote will be noted as reflecting the way I would have cast my vote if I had been there."
VAN LANDINGHAM'S treatment begins this week. "There are two accepted methods of treatment," she said. "I have chosen one that will deliver 96 straight hours of chemo therapy to my body via a 'fanny pack' and will allow me some mobility. The doctors will monitor my blood count and will evaluate whether the treatment is shrinking the tumors in about two months. At that time, I will decide what to do next."
Members of Alexandria's Democratic Party reacted to Van Landingham's announcement.
"Marian's health is the most important thing here," said Virginia Democratic Party chair Kerry Donley. "We wish her the best. The fact that she will not be in Richmond is a great loss for Alexandria. She has served the city well and her seniority and membership on the House Appropriations Committee has helped the city a great deal. Whoever replaces her will be a newcomer. She will be missed in Richmond."
Del. Brian Moran (D46) agreed. "We all wish Marian the best," he said. "She has been an asset in Richmond and we will miss her. Hopefully, there will be no close votes this session."
If there are, Van Landingham might be available. "If the governor or the caucus needs me for a close vote, I might get someone to drive me to Richmond," she said. "It would depend on how I am feeling."
ALREADY, DEMOCRATS are expressing interest in running for her seat. "Several people have mentioned their interest in running," Van Landingham said. "Many of them are my friends so I am staying out of it for now. We will have to see how things shake out as we get closer to the time for a primary. I do hope we decide to have a primary rather than a convention because I think it's fairer to the entire district."
Donley agreed. "I certainly would prefer a primary," he said. "Primary campaigns are more expensive but they give voters more of an opportunity to get to know the candidates and make an informed choice." Donley said that the choice about whether to hold a primary or a convention would be made by March.
While as many as eight Democrats from Alexandria, Arlington and Fairfax County have expressed some interest, only one had registered with the Voter Registrar as of Tuesday. Elsie Mosqueda, long-time assistant to Brian Moran has thrown her hat in the ring officially.
"Elsie called me and told me she was interested in running," said Mayor William D. Euille. "I am saddened by Marian's announcement and suspect that a number of people will come forward with an interest in running for that seat. We will just have to wait and see what happens. For now, my prayers are with Marian."