With the statewide races coming up in the fall, we have an unique responsibility this year as Loudoun’s hometown paper. For the first time in several years, a member of Loudoun County’s General Assembly delegation is seeking higher office and we believe it’s our responsibility to say a few words about a man we’ve become very familiar with.
With his campaign now operating at full swing, we’d like to talk a little about Virginia Sen. Mark Herring (D-33rd),currently running for state attorney general.
Herring has lived in Leesburg or its close environs for about 40 years, having moved to the area in 1973 at the age of 12 from Tennessee. He is the only member of the Loudoun delegation to have graduated from Loudoun County Public Schools – Blue Ridge Middle School and Loudoun Valley High School.
A symbol of how Loudoun has changed, Herring remembers his first entrepreneurial venture as a young man. With the family owning three dozen hens, he started selling farm-fresh eggs to neighbors along Canby Road. Before the farm-to-table movement, he claims to have had his price pushed down by those comparing his prices to the local grocery stores.
Graduating from Valley in 1979, Herring pondered a career in the foreign service while earning an economics and foreign policy undergraduate degree and then a master’s degree from UVA. Instead he began working as a legal assistant for a local firm before returning to earn his law degree at the University of Richmond. Convinced that he “had found the right place,” Herring had one class under later-Sen. Tim Kaine.
He has worked at law practice ever since, first with Turner, Parks and Herring and later as the Herring firm, doing general civil practice.
Herring ran for the Loudoun County Board of Supervisors in 1999, and spent a term there representing Leesburg. This was the height of the “growth wars” in Loudoun and Herring himself recollects some raucous meetings as the county struggled to catch local infrastructure up with the growth we were seeing. During this four-year period, Loudoun built 16 schools – slowly replacing parking lot trailers with brick and mortar – and developed the growth plan centering around plans for rail to Dulles.
At the end of his term on the board, Herring ran for the 27th District senate seat, which went west from Leesburg after redistricting. While unsuccessful, he ran again in the 33rd District in January 2006 after Bill Mims moved on to become the chief deputy attorney general and a special election was called.
Seeing the same key issues of transportation, education and managed growth, Herring has served in the state senate since February 2006, representing a district that straddled both Loudoun and into Fairfax. Prior to the 2011 redistricting, the 33rd District stretched to Fair Oaks Mall and had grown to where it represented 5 percent of Virginia.
While there, Herring has been a critical part of securing transportation funding for the region. He points to our securing funding for interchanges on Route 28, expanding roads on Route 50 and the Sycolin Road overpass as examples of how the area has had successes even in trying times for transportation. It’s all about hard work and problem solving, two things he’d bring to the office of attorney general.
Herring has been highly critical of the current attorney general, Ken Cuccinelli (R) and the stated goal of his campaign is to take some of the politics out of the office. Rather than suing climate change researchers, Herring would like to expand issues from his own legislative agenda, including protecting seniors from financial abuse and creating tighter laws to protect kids from designer drugs. He has also raised concerns about the use of information gathered on the Internet.
When asked about his own political heroes, Herring states his own appreciation for President Harry Truman – his no-nonsense style of government and how he didn’t shy away from making tough decisions. And while Truman had Independence, Mo., Herring will always have a place in Loudoun, saying “I’m really proud to have come from Loudoun and to represent Loudoun.”
We are certainly not endorsing at this early date and will instead be watching the campaign both for the nomination and during the general election very closely. Our endorsement will be based on the strength of the campaign and our perception on who is best for Virginia.
However, Herring is still Loudoun’s hometown candidate and a strong contender for the office of Virginia attorney general. As he begins campaigning throughout the state, we certainly advise the voters of Virginia that Herring is a man of substance and worthy of their serious consideration.