Arlington County Board Chair Mary Hynes won’t seek re-election this November, becoming the second County Board member in a week to announce their retirement.
Hynes, 59, will serve out the rest of her term in 2015 before stepping down. Her decision, along with County Board member Walter Tejada’s announcement last Wednesday, paves the way for the first County Board election with two open seats in decades.
“After nearly 20 years of elected service to our community, it’s time for a new chapter in my life. It has been a privilege to serve this community, and I am incredibly optimistic about Arlington’s future,” Hynes said in a press release. “Arlingtonians are involved, thoughtful, and hardworking. I know they always have — AND always will — find ways to make our community a special place for those who choose to live, work, play, and learn here.”
Hynes’ retirement plan is another shakeup in Arlington’s politics, following the groundbreaking election of John Vihstadt in 2014 — the first non-Democrat elected to the Board in a general election in 31 years — and the cancellation of the planned Columbia Pike and Crystal City streetcar system.
Hynes was first elected to the County Board in 2007 and is serving her second term as chair this year. Before that, she served 12 years on the Arlington School Board — including three stints as chair — after winning the first School Board election in almost 40 years.
Hynes said she is retiring to spend more time with her family; she has previously stated that 2014 was the hardest year she’s experienced since being elected to public office. She, along with then-chairman Jay Fisette, cast the deciding votes in canceling the streetcar. Hynes told the Washington Post that “bitter disagreements over spending” did not influence her decision to retire.
Hynes declined to discuss rumors of her retirement this morning, when an ARLnow.com reporter encountered her chatting with a constituent at a Columbia Pike coffee shop. She also did not give any hints about her impending retirement decision while addressing the Arlington County Civic Federation last night.
“This is a county with good, strong bones,” she told the Civic Federation. “It’s one of the best communities in the country by lots and lots of measures. It doesn’t mean we don’t have things to work on. We’ve had a rough couple of years. there’s a lot of external forces at play.”
This year, Hynes has thus far focused her efforts on the new Facilities Study Committee, her effort to refresh “The Arlington Way” of lengthy public debate to reach consensus for big-ticket projects.
After the jump, the full press release announcing her retirement.
Mary Hughes Hynes, Chair of the Arlington County Board, announced today that she will retire from the Board when she completes her term at the end of 2015.
“After nearly 20 years of elected service to our community, it’s time for a new chapter in my life. It has been a privilege to serve this community, and I am incredibly optimistic about Arlington’s future,” Hynes said. “Arlingtonians are involved, thoughtful, and hardworking. I know they always have – AND always will – find ways to make our community a special place for those who choose to live, work, play, and learn here.”
Hynes is completing her second term, and second time as Chair of the Arlington County Board, to which she was first elected in 2007. She citied her record of service on the Board, which includes a focus on improving government and the services it delivers to residents, increasing the level of civic engagement and ensure that the County makes carefully considered capital investments and maintains existing facilities.
Hynes noted that she had strived to expand the network of resident involvement in Arlington through her 2012 PLACE initiative to encourage civic engagement, and through Open-Door Mondays, which offers residents a weekly opportunity to meet with County Board members in local neighborhoods.
“From my involvement in the School Futures process more than 20 years ago, to establishing the Arlington County Facilities Study this year, I have always taken the long view,” Hynes said. “I have believed, and still believe, that leaders have a responsibility, as stewards of the public trust, to ensure the community continues to thrive for years into the future.”
Hynes has served on several key regional boards, including the Washington Metropolitan Transit Authority (WMATA), the Northern Virginia Transportation Commission (NVTC) and the Northern Virginia Transportation Authority.
In 2013, Hynes received the Metropolitan Washington Council of Governments Elizabeth and David Scull Award for Regional Leadership for her work as Chair of The Metropolitan Washington Council of Government’s (COG) Region Forward coalition, the public-private consortium created to pursue COG’s vision for the Washington region’s future.
About Mary Hughes Hynes
Hynes has been active in the civic life of Arlington for more than 30 years. Like so many others, her first involvement was as a parent (of five children, all of whom went through the Arlington Public Schools) working to improve the schools attended by her children. As a school community leader, she was appointed in the early 1990s to the School Futures Steering Team, which she chaired. As part of this process, nearly 150 Arlingtonians and school employees met steadily for one year and presented a consensus report which laid out a path forward for the community.
In 1994, after becoming the first elected School Board member in nearly 40 years, Hynes worked with her School Board colleagues and the community, using the Futures report as a roadmap, to expand school choice from three locations — ATS, Drew and HB-Woodlawn — to multiple sites with varied community-developed programs throughout Arlington.
During her 12-year tenure on the Arlington School Board, Hynes served three times as Chair.