Next year will be the first time in 48 years that I will not be in public office or be a candidate for office. I am not running for re-election this year.
I am indebted to the voters of Reston and nearby communities for returning me to office every two years. I am the senior member of the House of Delegates having served for a total of 44 years. I will continue to serve until my current term concludes at the end of this year.
I entered politics and the House of Delegates to fulfill a lifelong dream that Virginia could do better than being a backward Southern state and could fulfill the dreams expressed by our Founding Fathers who were Virginians. The 100-member House of Delegates I entered in 1978 was made up of 76 members who called themselves Democrats but more accurately were Dixiecrats—the most conservative of the Democrats. The few Republicans were more moderate.
I was pleased to be part of the progressive Democrats who controlled the General Assembly in 2020-2021 and who passed the most progressive and transformative agenda ever in the history of the state. We have made significant strides, but as the current session of the General Assembly has shown we need to be vigilant and continue our efforts.
Over the years I worked on many issues including ratification of the Equal Rights Amendment, expansion of human rights protections including LGBTQ+, preservation of our natural resources including climate change concerns and restoring the Chesapeake Bay, broadened participation in elections, protection of women’s reproductive rights, expansion of transportation alternatives, safeguarding communities from gun and other violence, creating and maintaining the best possible education system from preschool to higher education, and more.
I could not be prouder than I am of the members of the Democratic caucus who succeed me. The caucus is made up of more women than men, persons of color, a different generation, and a broader perspective than has ever been represented in the State Capitol.
Even Capitol Square looks different than it did when I first arrived. The oversize statue of Robert E. Lee that dominated the original House of Delegates chamber has been removed. The statue of Governor and later Senator Harry F. Byrd that stood by the sidewalk between legislative offices and the Capitol is gone as is the tight hold of his conservative grip on state government that stifled the state’s development for more than a half-century. Signifying the changes that have occurred over recent years is a memorial dedicated to the Indigenous people who occupied the area we now call a state for thousands of years before the English arrived. A unique memorial pays tribute to the women who contributed mightily to the state’s history, and a civil rights memorial now stands featuring Barbara Johns who led a school walkout that launched the Civil Rights Movement in the state and led to the end of school segregation.
I remain the delegate for the new 7th district until the end of this year. Please call on me if I can be of assistance to you during that period. My heartfelt thanks to all who made my career of public service possible.