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Dick Saslaw to retire from State Senate after representing Fairfax County for almost half a century

State Sen. Dick Saslaw is retiring after nearly five decades in the Virginia General Assembly (staff photo by Angela Woolsey)

Longtime Virginia lawmaker Dick Saslaw, who’s represented parts of Fairfax County for nearly five decades, is retiring.

The 83-year-old Saslaw (D-35) made the announcement on the State Senate floor on this afternoon that he won’t be running for reelection in November.

“It has been the highest honor to serve the people of the 35th District for more than four decades in the Virginia State Senate,” Saslaw said in a statement. “…We’ve still got a ways to go, but I am proud to have played a role in the vast improvement we’ve seen in how marginalized communitiesare treated in the Commonwealth.”

Saslaw has served in the State Senate since 1980, representing the 35th District. That covers a chunk of Fairfax County, including parts of Annandale, Springfield, Falls Church, Lincolnia, Bailey’s Crossroads, and West Falls Church. He was first elected to public office in 1976 as a Virginia Delegate in District 19.

Saslaw is currently the Senate Majority Leader and the longest-serving member in the Senate by more than a decade.

Known throughout his career for being direct and having a colorful personality, Saslaw’s announcement on the Senate floor was true to form.

“Fish gotta swim. Birds gotta fly. And Saslaw’s gotta move on. Thank you all,” he said, according to Virginia Mercury reporter Graham Moomaw.

Saslaw will serve out his final term, which will end on Jan. 10, 2024.

The legislator’s retirement doesn’t come as a shock, considering his longevity and the long-held rumors, but it does clear up some election intrigue in regard to the recently redrawn 35th District.

2021’s redistricting process placed both Saslaw and fellow veteran lawmaker Sen. Dave Marsden into the same district. Last month, Marsden confirmed to FFXnow that he will run for election in the 35th District.

With Saslaw’s retirement, Marsden will no longer have to face off against a fellow incumbent, though he will have an opponent in June’s Democratic primary.

Saslaw is not the only long-time local lawmaker to announce their retirement in recent days.

Yesterday, long-time Del. Ken Plum announced he’s ending his 44-year career as a Virginia lawmaker. Plum has represented the Reston area in the General Assembly for 44 years.

He told FFXnow that the accomplishments he’s most proud of are helping to expand LGBTQ+ rights and protecting reproductive rights.

Almost immediately, four candidates jumped into the race to take over Plum’s seat next year.

Elsewhere in the county, some senior local elected officials are also heading for retirement. Both Mason District Supervisor Penny Gross and Dranesville District Supervisor John Foust announced they won’t seek reelection after their terms end on Dec. 31.

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