Alexandria City Council member Beverly Beidler, in what she called a "painful and difficult" decision, announced last week that she will not run for reelection in May.
Citing financial pressures and the need for "new blood" in Alexandria politics, Beidler, 49, said, "Two terms are enough."
Beidler was elected as a Democrat to the City Council in 1973 and reelected in 1976.
She has been an outspoken advocate of Metro service to Alexandria, a vocal opponent of I-66 and recently criticized the city for its failure to tighten bingo laws.
Several months ago, appearing before a special state legislature subcommittee investigating inadequacies in the law, Beidler - obviously shaken by the widespread violations in Alexandria that led to the appointment of a special bingo prosecutor - declared: "Let's not have it (bingo). We have not been able to control it."
As a council member, Beidler was known for her sharp questions, her concern for minorities and her grasp of complex issues. One city official commented after a recent council meeting, "She does her homework."
Beidler said she has considered running for mayor against incumbent Frank E. Mann. But, she said in her announcement, "A significant number of my close friends and supporters were doubtful that I could win."
Former mayor Charles E. Beatley announced several weeks ago that he will challenge Mann in the May election.
Beidler was paid $7,800 a year as council member, with no hospitalization or pension benefits.
"The job is challenging and satisfying," she said. "However, I believe that local government needs constant infusions of new blood. People who want to get involved in public affairs can start at this level."
The next council, Beidler urged, should find an alternative to the real estate tax, provide better wages and working conditions for city employes and assure that the citizens share "in the benefits and growth" that result from "public investment."