Becoming the third Republican State Senator to retire this year, Frank Wagner (R-Virginia Beach) has announced that he will not seek reelection in 2019. The Naval Academy graduate has served in the General Assembly’s upper chamber since 2002, being a staunch proponent of improving transportation infrastructure in Hampton Roads, supporting veterans care, and aiding in deregulatory measures to promote business growth.
“It has been one of the highest honors of my life to serve the citizens of the Commonwealth. I want to thank the citizens of Virginia Beach and Norfolk for giving me that privilege of serving them in Virginia legislature,” the 63-year-old said in a statement.
“Virginia is a great state, which is why we choose to live here. I just hope that I have left our state a little better off for me having served. However, the time has come to turn my seat over to the next generation to continue to make Virginia a better place for all of us to live and raise our families,” he added.
Wagner began his 28-year legislative career in the House of Delegates, serving as the 21st House District’s representative from 1992 to 2001. Apart from being a member of the State Senate for the past 17 years, Wagner ran unsuccessfully to become the Republican Party’s nominee for governor in 2017 with a campaign slogan of, “One veteran, one businessman, one Virginian, one choice.”
During the 2019 legislative session in Richmond, Wagner’s legislation regarding coal ash ponds was passed by the General Assembly. S.B. 1355 requires coal ash ponds to be closed by moving coal ash to lined landfills on site or recycled. According to the bill, approximately 27 million tons of coal ash across the Commonwealth will be secured in a safe manner.
S.B. 1746, which was also passed, directs the Department of Education to encourage school boards that have a significant number of enrolled military-connected students to partner with the National Math and Science Initiative to provide such students with the tools and resources necessary to advance science, technology, engineering, and mathematics (STEM) learning, job creation, and career readiness.
Wagner also helped lead the charge to ban people from holding a cell phone while driving a to mitigate distracted driving injuries and fatalities in the Commonwealth, but the bill failed to become law.
Senate Majority Leader Tommy Norment (R-James City) said of Wagner’s retirement, “Having worked closely with Frank for many years, he has become a great and close friend.”
“With nearly three decades serving the people of Virginia in the General Assembly, and his earlier service to our nation in the Navy, I know Frank will continue to find ways to contribute to Virginia, America, and, of course, Hampton Roads,” he added in a statement.
Senators Richard “Dick” Black (R-Loudoun) and Bill Carrico (R-Grayson) also announced their plans not to run for reelection this November. Currently, the GOP is holding onto a slim 21-19 majority in the upper chamber, with Democrats already eyeing the 7th State Senate District that encompasses Virginia Beach and parts of Norfolk.