Mitchell Van Yahres
|Mitchell Van Yahres|
|Member of the Virginia House of Delegates
from the 57th district
|Preceded by||Thomas J. Michie, Jr.|
|Succeeded by||David Toscano|
|Born||October 21, 1926
Mineola, New York
|Died||February 8, 2008
|Spouse(s)||Elizabeth Louise Franklin|
|Children||Michel (Mike), Mark E., Keith A., Laura V. Ganz, and Elizabeth A. Nave|
|Alma mater||Cornell University|
|Committees||Agriculture Chesapeake and Natural Resources, Education, Finance|
|Service/branch||United States Army Air Forces|
|Years of service||1944–45|
Mitchell Van Yahres (October 21, 1926 – February 8, 2008) was an American politician. A Democrat, he was mayor of Charlottesville, Virginia 1970–72 and served in the Virginia House of Delegates 1981–2005.
Born in Mineola, New York, Van Yahres served in the United States Army Air Forces at the end of World War II. After the war, he attended Cornell University, graduating in 1949. He then moved to Charlottesville, where he began work as an arborist. He became interested in local politics, and ran for a seat on Charlottesville's City Council. He won, becoming the only Democrat on the Republican dominated board. Van Yahres served as a city councilman for eight years. For two of those years, from 1970 to 1972, he was mayor of the City of Charlottesville. During his tenure as mayor, he led the initiative to close East Main Street to automobile traffic and convert much of the heart of the city's business district into the Downtown Mall. Today, the pedestrian mall serves as a major cultural hub for much of Central Virginia.
In 1980, Delegate Thomas J. Michie, Jr. won a special election to the Virginia State Senate. Van Yahres won the subsequent special election to fill the vacancy created by Michie's victory. He served in the Virginia General Assembly, representing the City of Charlottesville and a small portion of Albemarle County.
He served as a liberal voice for his constituency in a forum dominated by Republicans after 1999. Van Yahres, however, did not enjoy partisan politics. In a 2005 interview with The Hook, he commented on the partisanship that was overtaking the General Assembly. He said, "It's not a pleasure to be there. It used to be you were able to have friends on both sides of the aisle. There was a political spirit of compromise. Now you have to win battles." In 2005, Mitchell Van Yahres declined to seek a 13th term in the House of Delegates.
Van Yahres died of lung cancer February 8, 2008 in Charlottesville.