Hunter Mill District Supervisor Catherine Hudgins will not run for re-election in November, bringing her 20-year tenure on the Fairfax County Board of Supervisors to a close.
Hudgins announced her decision during the board’s meeting on Jan. 22.
The county board will see extensive changeover after the supervisors’ current terms end this year with Hudgins as the fourth member to reveal plans to leave in the past few months.
Chairman Sharon Bulova announced her plans to retire in a newsletter sent to constituents by email in December, and current Lee District Supervisor Jeff McKay declared his candidacy for the chair position on Dec. 6.
Braddock District Supervisor John Cook and Providence District Supervisor Linda Smyth have both said they will not run for reelection.
Mason District Supervisor Penelope Gross, Mount Vernon District Supervisor Dan Storck, Dranesville District Supervisor John Foust, and Sully District Supervisor Kathy Smith have all announced that they will seek reelection.
Springfield District Supervisor Pat Herrity has not declared his intentions regarding the upcoming Nov. 5 election, but The Washington Post reported in November that he is considering vying for Bulova’s seat as chairman.
Bulova thanked Hudgins for her “decades of service” to Fairfax County following the Hunter Mill District supervisor’s retirement announcement.
“She will be sincerely missed,” the chairman said in a tweet.
First elected to the Board of Supervisors in 1999, Hudgins represents the county’s largest magisterial district. She currently chairs the board’s human services and housing committees, and serves as a member of the governing board for Fairfax County’s Initiative to Prevent and End Homelessness.
A resident of Reston since 1969, Hudgins earned a bachelor’s degree in mathematics education from the University of Arkansas at Pine Bluff, and she holds a master’s degree in public administration from George Mason University, according to her Fairfax County online biography.
Prior to entering politics, Hudgins worked as a math teacher and as a computer programmer, instructor, analyst, and consultant for AT&T.
She has participated in politics since at least 1984 when she was first elected as Virginia national committeewoman on the Democratic National Committee, a position that she held for two terms.
Her political work before joining the Fairfax County Board of Supervisors also included two years as secretary of the Fairfax County Electoral Board starting in 1993 and a four-year stint as chief of staff for Chairman Katherine Hanley from 1995 to 1999.
Hudgins’s supporters champion her as an advocate for affordable housing who has shepherded her district, which encompasses the Reston and Vienna areas, through more than a decade of transformation and mixed-use development.
Hudgins’s work earned her the Public Official of the Year Award from the Virginia Transit Association in 2010 as well as a Distinguished Leadership Award from the Coalition for Mentally Disabled Citizens of Northern Virginia.
Her commitment to affordable housing has been recognized by the Housing Association of Non-Profit Developers, a regional network of housing providers dedicated to increasing the supply of affordable housing in the Washington, D.C., metropolitan area.
“Supervisor Cathy Hudgins has been a tireless advocate for the Hunter Mill District,” Rep. Gerry Connolly (D-Va.) said in a tweet. “She’s been a champion for affordable housing and has dedicated her career to making sure every voice is heard in our community. I’m proud to call her a friend and wish her well in retirement.”
At the same time, Hudgins’s efforts to promote development particularly in Reston have seen some pushback from residents.
A proposed zoning ordinance amendment that would increase the density of Reston’s Planned Residential Community District drew criticism from community advocates with the Reston Association and the Coalition for a Planned Reston.
Fairfax County says that the zoning amendment is necessary to reflect changes made to Reston’s master plan in response to the arrival of Metro to the area.
Opponents worry that increasing the PRC District’s density will lead to overcrowding and congestion, negatively affecting Reston as a community.
The tension around development inspired other candidates to challenge Hudgins before she announced that she would not seek reelection.
Democrat Parker Messick lists stopping big development as one of his main platforms in his campaign to become Hunter Mill’s next supervisor. The Roanoke College graduate formally announced that he will seek Hudgins’s seat on Dec. 16.
A second Democrat, Air Force veteran Shyamali Hauth, announced her candidacy for Hunter Mill District supervisor on Jan. 8.
Hauth is running as a grassroots advocate who has been involved in efforts to preserve green space with the organization Rescue Reston and to create policies supporting lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender, and queer students in Fairfax County Public Schools, according to a press release detailing her campaign announcement.