December 6, 2005
His time in the legislative arena spans nearly 25 years and now Delegate for the 57th district, Mitch Van Yahres, is finally calling it quits. So what's next for this longtime commonwealth politician?
His political career in Charlottesville began over 37 years ago, first as a city councilman and now soon to retire legislative delegate. Mitch Van Yahres has outgrown what he calls a now partisan house of delegates.
"Republicans and Democrats could talk to each other and compromise, make compromises very easily. Today it is no longer that way," said Van Yahres.
The 79-year-old Democrat is moving on, but his political influence still lingers. He helped the area gain a public defenders office and the downtown mall. He also pushed legislators to regulate standard of learning tests in schools. He'll miss the issues most, and as he says, his friends in Richmond like Virginia Governor Mark Warner who convinced him to stay when he considered retiring two years ago.
"He sent this picture down, he had written on it 'Mitch, just one more time,'" said Van Yahres.
On Wednesday, Van Yahres will pass the torch to long-time colleague and former Charlottesville Mayor David Toscano. He trusts he'll do well.
"I think David has his own agenda, I hope he'll follow it and fight for it, which I expect him to do, and I think he'll do a very good job," said Van Yahres.
As for the future, this father of five is looking forward to more time with his eleven grandchildren and even a little traveling. But there's no doubt that leaving behind his passion won't be easy.
"When I read about what's going on, the issues going on, I will feel 'Gee Whiz, I wish I were there,' but I think that will wear out after a while and I'll get involved in other things," said Van Yahres. "I don't know what it's going to be yet, but I will be involved in a lot of other things I'm sure."
David Toscano will be sworn into Van Yahres house seat next Wednesday when the General Assembly reconvenes.