CHARLOTTESVILLE, Va. (CBS19 NEWS) -- In a shocking decision Tuesday night, Charlottesville City Councilor Sena Magill announced she will be stepping down from office.

“Nobody knew about it until 10:30 last night,” Mayor Lloyd Snook said.

For the first time in nearly 56 years, the Charlottesville City Council is having the replace a council member before the end of their term.

“We have not had to do this since 1967, was the last time that we had to appoint a councilor to fill a vacancy.”

Magill has served on the council since 2019. She says her resignation will go into effect on Jan. 11.

“You know, it’s just sad 'cause we’re all going to miss her perspective and the experience that she brought to council. And so, I think it was just an emotional moment,” Councilor Michael Payne said.

According to Snook, Magill has been debating on stepping down for a few months in order to focus more time on being a mom.

“My advice to her was, there can only be one mom in the family, we can find other councilors. Do what you’ve got to do,” Snook said.

“The needs of my family have changed during my time in office. And in the last few months, it has become more and more apparent that I cannot meet the needs effectively of both,” said Magill in a letter read by Payne at the meeting on Tuesday. 

“You know, you work together so much on city council. It’s not just always a professional relationship, but a friendship as well,” Payne said.

Of the five members on the city council, Magill is the only woman. Snook says he hopes to have another female fill her position.

“It’s important to me, if possible, but it’s not in a quota. I’d like to replace Sena’s seat with a woman, frankly. We would otherwise be five men, but I value the diversity of opinion that we get from the experiences that people bring,” Snook said.

According to state law, the city has to appoint a replacement in 45 days. The councilors hope to have a candidate appointed by their meeting on Feb. 21. Applications are now being accepted on the city's website.