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Mitchell Van Yahres (October 21, 1926 – February 8, 2008) was an American politician. A Democrat, he was mayor of Charlottesville, Virginia from 1970 to 1972, and served in the Virginia House of Delegates from 1981 to 2005.

Mitchell Van Yahres
Member of the Virginia House of Delegates
from the 57th district
In office
January 12, 1983 – January 11, 2006
Preceded byNone (district created)
Succeeded byDavid Toscano
Member of the Virginia House of Delegates
from the 24th district
In office
January 13, 1982 – January 12, 1983
Serving with James B. Murray
Preceded byLewis P. Fickett Jr.
Succeeded byVance Wilkins
Member of the Virginia House of Delegates
from the 26th district
In office
January 1981 – January 13, 1982
Preceded byThomas J. Michie, Jr.
Succeeded byLew Parker
Mayor of Charlottesville, Virginia
In office
Preceded byDutch Vogt
Succeeded byFrancis Fife
Personal details
Mitchell Van Yahres

(1926-10-21)October 21, 1926
Mineola, New York, U.S.
DiedFebruary 8, 2008(2008-02-08) (aged 81)
Charlottesville, Virginia, U.S.
Political partyDemocratic
Spouse(s)Elizabeth Louise Franklin
Alma materCornell University (B.S.)
ProfessionArborist, Consultant
Military service
Allegiance United States
Branch/serviceUnited States Army Air Forces
Years of service1944–1945
Battles/warsWorld War II

Political careerEdit

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 then-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.[1] 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.[2]

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.[3]

Van Yahres died of lung cancer February 8, 2008 in Charlottesville.