Herndon Mayor Steve DeBenedittis, stepping down after three terms. (Town of Herndon)

Vice Mayor Lisa Merkel also announced her intention to run for the job.

DeBenedittis, 44, had no prior political experience when he ran for mayor in 2006, while the town of 23,000 was embroiled in an immigration furor. In 2005, the town council had constructed a permanent location for day laborers, many believed to be here illegally, and the move outraged many residents. DeBenedittis knocked off incumbent Mayor Mike O’Reilly, the entire town council was swept out of office, and a year later the Herndon Official Worker Center was shut down.

The controversy attracted national attention, but Herndon has largely stayed out of the spotlight since. “We have made great strides over the half-dozen years I have served as mayor,” DeBenedittis said in a press release. “Our community is less divided than in 2006 when our issues were exposed in national news. Herndon is prepared well for its future,” he said and added that the town is in solid fiscal shape.

DeBenedittis said he wanted to spend more time with his family. In an e-mail to me, he said Tirrell, who has served eight terms on the council since 1990, “has my enthusiastic support.” Merkel is in her first term on the council and has served on numerous civic groups in Northern Virginia. The election of the mayor and all six council members is May 1.