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Three additional Northern Virginia legislators announced their retirements from the General Assembly this week, bringing to six the total number of departures from the region’s delegation.
The latest announcement came Thursday afternoon from Democratic Sen. John Bell, whose current 13th District encompasses a large portion of Loudoun County and a small portion of western Prince William County.
Bell, 60, said in a statement that he was recently diagnosed with prostate cancer and that although his prognosis is positive, he needs to focus on his health, business obligations and family. He will remain in office through the current term, which ends in December.
Bell was elected to the seat in 2019, defeating Republican Geary Higgins to succeed retiring Republican Dick Black. Bell, a retired U.S. Air Force officer, previously served in the Virginia House of Delegates from 2016 to 2020.
“Serving in the General Assembly has been a great honor and a privilege that I will always cherish,” Bell said in his statement. “I come from a humble background, and it still amazes me that I have had the opportunity to serve in the same body as great Americans like George Washington, Thomas Jefferson and so many others.”
The redistricting approved by the Virginia Supreme Court in December 2021 placed Bell in a new Senate district, the 32nd, which consists primarily of the Ashburn, Sterling and South Riding areas of Loudoun County.
Bell’s announcement was quickly followed by one from Democratic Del. Suhas Subramanyam, who said he would run for the 32nd District seat. Subramanyam was elected to the 87th District seat in the House, replacing Bell, in 2019 and became the first Indian-American, South Asian and Hindu elected to the General Assembly.
“Senator Bell is a friend and a mentor, and you would be hard-pressed to find a more dedicated public servant,” Subramanyam said in a news release. “I am so grateful for his decades of service in the military and in public office. … I know that I have big shoes to fill, but if elected to the Senate, I will continue the work I started as a Delegate to empower my constituents, put people and families before special interests, and stand up for our core values.”
The Virginia Public Access Project rates the district as heavily Democratic, with over 60% of its voters supporting Democrat and former Gov. Terry McAuliffe in the 2021 gubernatorial election.
Subramanyam’s announcement leaves the new 26th District seat in the House without an incumbent.
Meanwhile, Democratic Sen. Janet Howell of Fairfax, who co-chairs the Senate Finance Committee, announced Tuesday she will not seek re-election this fall after 32 years in the legislature.
Redistricting placed Howell in the same district, the 38th, as Sen. Jennifer Boysko. The district encompasses northern Fairfax.
Howell has served in the Senate since 1992 and will complete her term.
“My focus has always been on education, from preschool through graduate school, and on helping our neighbors in need. We have made great progress yet much more must be done,” she said in a statement.
And Democratic Del. Wendy Gooditis of Loudoun County, first elected in the “blue wave” of 2017, announced Wednesday that she also will not run for re-election this fall but will serve the rest of her term.
Redistricting eliminated her House District 10, based in Loudoun, and separated it into districts 29, 30 and 31. Gooditis resides in the new District 31, which does not include any of Loudoun and is rated heavily Republican by the Virginia Public Access Project.
“House District 31 was well-drawn,” Gooditis said in a statement. “It is compact, it keeps communities of interest together, and it uses the natural boundaries of the mountains.”
Last week, three other Northern Virginia legislators said they will not be running for re-election this fall: Senate Majority Leader Dick Saslaw, D-Fairfax, Del. Kenneth Plum, D-Reston, and Del. Kathleen Murphy, D-McLean.
In all, more than 20 of the 140 members of the legislature have now said they won’t be running for re-election this year.