Arlington, VA

(Possible candidate list updated at 8:10 p.m.) Mary Margaret Whipple, who represents Arlington in the Virginia Senate, announced her retirement today.

Whipple has represented Virginia’s 31st Senate district since 1996. Before being elected to the state Senate, Whipple served on the Arlington School Board, the Arlington County Board and the Metro Transit Board.

News of Whipple’s retirement seemingly came as a surprise to some.

“Wow – another one!” Del. David Englin said on Twitter. “[Sen. Whipple has] been a champion for Arlington, good government, and progress.”

Others had press releases ready for the announcement.

“Senator Mary Margaret Whipple’s retirement from the Virginia Senate will leave behind a void that will be difficult to fill,” said Del. Adam Ebbin, who is running for the state Senate seat being vacated by Sen. Patsy Ticer. Ticer announced her retirement last week.

Del. Patrick Hope had more praise for Whipple.

“Today, we honor the service of one of Arlington’s most dedicated and admired public servants,” he said in a statement. “I know I join Arlingtonians in thanking Senator Mary Margaret Whipple for over three decades of hard work, dedication, and service. She will surely be missed but her legacy will be long-lasting, not only to her constituents but to our entire great Commonwealth.”

As state political blogger Ben Tribbett points out on Twitter, Hope is thought to be considering a run for Whipple’s seat. Via an aide, Hope neither confirmed nor denied the rumors.

“Today is Mary Margaret’s day and we should honor her outstanding service,” Hope said.

Other names being floated as possible candidates for the seat are Tribbett, former lieutenant governor candidate Mike Signer, Arlington County Democratic Committee Chair Mike Lieberman and county board member Barbara Favola.

“I applaud Sen. Whipple for her incredible insightful and thoughtful service,” Favola told ARLnow.com. “She has always been a wonderful role model and friend to me.”

“I think this is her day,” Favola said when asked whether she might run for Whipple’s seat. “I suspect over the weekend I’ll think about the next steps.”

Del. Bob Brink, a close friend of Whipple’s, also had kind words to say about the long-time public servant.

“Mary Margaret has shown how to be both principled and effective, and she’s done it with grace, determination, and, above all, civility,” Brink said in a press release. “She’s been my political mentor and the best friend my family and I could ever hope for.”

“On the Arlington School Board and County Board she gave life to Arlington’s historic commitment to world-class public schools, smart growth policies that create a sustainable environment, and an inclusive, welcoming community in which each person is important,” Brink continued. “In the General Assembly, she is a nationally recognized advocate for the environment. If we’re able to save the Chesapeake, much of the credit will belong to her.”

“She is simply irreplaceable,” Brink said.

“Sen. Whipple has never lost sight of the importance of expanding educational opportunity for all, and she has also been an outstanding chair of our Commonwealth’s Senate Democratic Caucus,” said Del. Ebbin. “However, it was the vision she applied to urban planning and tackling Northern Virginia’s transportation problems that will leave the most enduring impact on our region. Through her leadership on the County Board and the WMATA Board of Directors, Senator Whipple transformed Arlington into a vibrant and exciting place to live and work by planning a series of world-class urban villages.”

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