Mark R. Herring, one of Loudoun County’s own, will stand in a bright spotlight at the Virginia State Capitol Saturday as he takes the oath of the office of the attorney general, alongside Gov.-elect Terry McAuliffe and Lt. Gov.-elect Ralph Northam.
But, even as Leesburg Today caught up with Herring amid a busy week of celebratory events leading up to his inauguration, the longtime Leesburg resident made it clear he is not ready to leave Loudoun County, or the supporters and friends he made here, behind.
Just as he has done during General Assembly sessions as a state senator for the past seven years, Herring will rent an apartment in Richmond while his family stays in Leesburg. “We’ll decide in the summer whether to buy a small place down there or keep renting. But Leesburg is our home.”
Herring moved to Loudoun in 1973, joining the seventh grade class at Blue Ridge Middle School as a 12-year-old. He said he’s a proud graduate of Loudoun Valley High School, but jokes he’s since “embraced the blue and gold” of his once-rival Loudoun County High School, where his daughter Peyton graduated three years ago and his son Tim is a senior and a star forward on the Raiders’ basketball team.
After graduating from law school, Herring and his then-new bride Laura talked about where they wanted to settle down and open a law practice. “I remembered how much I enjoyed growing up in Loudon County, and I talked about that with Laura,” he said. “We couldn’t think of another place to raise our family than Loudoun County.”
He served as the Town Attorney for Lovettsville from 1992 to 1999 and later started his own law practice, The Herring Law Firm, P.C. In 1999 he ran for and won his first elected office, representing the Leesburg District on the Loudoun County Board of Supervisors, a position he held until 2003. Three years later he was elected to represent Virginia’s 33rd Senate District. Herring won the seat in a special election after it was vacated by Bill Mims when he was appointed chief deputy attorney general.
In the seven years that followed, Herring, as one of the lone Democrats representing Loudoun in the General Assembly, became known for his willingness to work with his Republican counterparts. He often teamed up with Loudoun’s seven Republican delegates to draft legislation that won bipartisan support in both chambers, and he vowed on the campaign trail over the past year to carry that reputation with him to the Attorney General’s office.
Shortly after he announced his intensions to run in July 2012, Herring said in an interview with Leesburg Today, “I have a good track record of working together with members of the other party in the Senate and General Assembly, and locally as a supervisor. That’s always been my view: After the election we all need to work together for the good of people of Virginia.”
With his inauguration Saturday, Herring becomes the first Loudoun resident to be elected to a statewide office since Gov. Westmoreland Davis in 1917. His election to the attorney general’s office, he says, is an illustration of how much his home county has changed since he first moved here more than 40 years ago.
“I think it’s a good thing for Loudoun County, and it shows how important it has become in a lot of ways,” Herring said, noting the population is now nine times what it was when he first moved here in the early 1970s. “It’s important not just economically, from a business standpoint, but politically as well.”
Herring spent this week attending several events thrown to celebrate and build the momentum ahead of his inauguration. Longtime friends and supporters joined him for the first of two Attorney General’s Inaugural Galas last Saturday in Sterling. Business leaders got their chance to offer their congratulations at an Inaugural Business and Technology Breakfast at AOL in Dulles.
A second gala is planned for Thursday at Richmond Center Stage in Richmond and Herring will be sworn in at noon Saturday at the Virginia State Capitol. Watch the inauguration live at http://virginiageneralassembly.gov/.