In January 1998 a special election made Del. William Mims state Sen. William Mims. He has had a strong grasp on the office since then, retaining the seat in the 1999 General Election by a landslide and going unchallenged in the 2003 General Election.
Last week Mims announced he is stepping down from that senate seat. Mims said he will submit his resignation Jan. 11, effective Jan. 14, to become the second in charge at the Attorney General's office.
"This is a job where law, policy and executive management all intersect," said Mims. He said a prior occupant of the position said it was the best job in state government. Mims said he expects his new duties to be challenging but exciting. He added he was thankful to represent Loudoun and Fairfax counties for 14 years: "It's been a pleasure to serve those constituents."
MIMS'S DECISION means some Loudoun and Fairfax voters will take part in a special election, likely to take place in January. Mims expects Jan. 24 or Jan. 31 as possible dates. Suzanne Volpe, a legislative district chairman with the Loudoun County Republican Committee, said the date is not set yet because Mims said "he will" resign. She said an election cannot be called for an office that is not vacant. Once the resignation takes effect, the date of the special election will be set.
There will be a period between Mims' resignation and the election of his replacement. He said the 33rd District will not be without a representative for a significant amount of time. The new senator will be in place before the important cross-over time, when bills cross between the two houses of the General Assembly, he predicts.
Mims said he is finalizing around 50 bills he planned to introduce in the upcoming session. He is seeking new sponsors for those bills. "To simply drop them would not be responsible," he said.
ONCE THE ELECTION is scheduled, it is sure to feature Mark Herring as the Democratic candidate. Herring is attempting to make a return to the political scene in the county. He served on the county's Board of Supervisors from 2000 to 2003 representing the Leesburg District.
Herring said he liked his chances in the upcoming election. The main issue he said is transportation and added he had a strong record of understanding the connection between transportation and land use, which dates back to his time as chairman of the Supervisor's land use committee. "Voters showed in November they want representatives in Richmond who are effective," said Herring.
The Democrats displayed a strong showing in Loudoun in the November elections. The Democratic candidate in the gubernatorial race, Governor-elect Tim Kaine, won 51.64 percent of the votes in the county. Democrats also won more than 50 percent in the lieutenant governor race and in the House of Delegates 32nd District race.
WHILE HERRING PREPARES for the special election, his opponent is yet to be determined. So far two Republican candidates have shown interest in running for the senate seat. Supervisor Mick Staton (R-Sugarland Run) and J. Randall Minchew, chairman of the Loudoun County Republican Committee, will face off for the Republican nomination. Volpe said there probably will not be sufficient time to hold a primary election, but there may be a meeting to determine the party's nominee. She said the process will be determined at the first Legislative District Committee meeting of the year, at a time yet to be determined.
Staton said he is the party's strongest candidate. He said he has intimate knowledge of the issues facing the district from his position as a Supervisor and chairman of the board's transportation/land use committee. If elected senator, he said he would be a proponent of getting the local governments more involved in the state's law-making process. Staton said one of the main issues he would address at the General Assembly would be the lack of money received by Loudoun in education funding.
Staton's opponent, Minchew could not be reached for comment.
Mims said he expects the main issues in this election to be the same principal issues as in most Loudoun elections, education and transportation.