Wednesday, November 17, 2021

Weekly Column: Redistricting Process Should Involve the Public

The following is my column that will appear in the Mt. Vernon Gazette, Springfield Connection, The Prince William Times, The Fort Hunt Herald, and Potomac Local in the week of November 16, 2021.

 Redistricting Process Should Involve the Public

                Last week, I reported on the status of the state legislative and congressional redistricting process which has now moved to the Supreme Court of Virginia because the Virginia Redistricting Commission failed to adopt maps. 

                On Friday, the Supreme Court effectively disqualified all three Republican nominees to serve as special master over the redistricting process because of their conflicts of interest and partisan ties.  Specifically, the Court noted that the Republican Caucuses had not advised the Court that one nominee had received a $20,000 payment from the Senate Republican Caucus two months ago and had an express conflict.  The other two nominees were unsuitable as well.  A second nominee received $5,000 per month from the Republican National Committee.  The third Republican nominee has participated in putting together some of the most notorious, court-rejected and illegal racial gerrymanders in American history and lacked credibility according to a federal judge.

                The Court ordered the Republican Caucuses to submit three new nominees by November 17.  One Democratic nominee indicated he did not want to serve in this process so the Court ordered the Democrats to submit an additional name. 

Wednesday, November 3, 2021

Thoughts on 2021 Election

    Last night's election results were not what I hoped to see, but the voters have spoken and we now have a new political reality to navigate over the next four years.  We saw the highest turnout for a Virginia Governor's election in a long time and that was a good thing.  Many voters took advantage of the new laws we passed in the last two years making it easier to vote and I hope every agrees that democracy works better when more people participate. 

    Voters in the 36th District voted for the Democratic Ticket by over 20% margin - probably closer to 25% if early votes were counted by precinct.  Only 4 of the 47 precincts I represent voted for the Republican gubernatorial nominee and if early votes were returned to their precincts, probably closers to two.  The Republican message did not resonate with a majority of 36th District voters or for that matter Northern Virginia.

Thursday, October 28, 2021

Supporting transit options in Prince William County

The Virginia Department of Rail and Public Transportation (DRPT) released a draft final report Executive Summary of its Springfield to Quantico Enhanced Public Transportation Feasibility Study.

DRPT is evaluating:

- Metro Expansion in Fairfax County and Prince William County

- Bus Rapid Transit (BRT) 

- Express Buses

- Enhanced VRE 

Friday, August 13, 2021

Weekly Column: State Legislature Decides on Funds, Addresses Needs

The following is my column that will appear in the Mt. Vernon Gazette, Springfield Connection, The Prince William Times, The Fort Hunt Herald, and Potomac Local in the week of August 13, 2021.

State Legislature Decides on Funds, Addresses Needs

On August 10, the General Assembly completed work in a special session to appropriate federal pandemic funds and elect judges. 

In March, President Joe Biden signed the $1.9 trillion American Rescue Plan Act (ARPA).  ARPA brought $4.3 billion in unexpected funds to Virginia but required it to be invested in specific areas such as water, sewer and broadband infrastructure to respond to the COVID-19 emergency, address pandemic impacts and provide government services suffering from revenue reductions because of the pandemic.  Unlike other counties, Fairfax County received $222 million in direct ARPA funding with similar requirements. 

Wednesday, June 2, 2021

Letter to Constituents - 2021 Session

We had a very successful 2021 General Assembly session and we passed many new laws that will be implemented in the coming months and affect those living in the 36th Senate District for decades. 

I sent a newsletter that went to many constituents and supporters.  I could not send it every household because of the cost.  If you would like to read the newsletter, I have included it here:

Friday, May 28, 2021

Investing in Southeast Fairfax Infrastructure

 Today, Delegates Kathy Tran and Paul Krizek joined me to submit a request to our federal
representatives for infrastructure investments in the U.S. 1 corridor. Please read our letter below.

We requested funding for undergrounding utilities on U.S. 1 and replacing the obsolete bridge on Old Colchester Road over Giles Run.

Our region has long suffered from underinvestment in crucial infrastructure that would spur private sector development and provide necessary access to services for our community. In the coming years, over $1 billion will be invested in the 36th District. The tide is beginning to turn but we have a long way to go. 

I am hopeful that the federal government will play a role by investing in these requests. Investments made today will pay dividends for the next generation of U.S. 1 residents and small business owners.

Earmark Request for U.S. 1 ... by Scott A. Surovell

Sunday, May 16, 2021

Weekly Column: Nominate Mark Herring for Re-Election on June 8

The following is my column that will appear in the Mt. Vernon Gazette, Springfield Connection, The Prince William Times, The Fort Hunt Herald, and Potomac Local in the week of May 17, 2021.

Nominate Mark Herring for Re-Election on June 8

                The June 8 Democratic primary is an opportunity to vote for fairness and justice for everyone by supporting Attorney General Mark Herring. On that day, Virginians will select the Democratic Party’s nominees for Governor, Lieutenant Governor, Attorney General and several Delegates.

Republicans controlled the Attorney General’s Office for 28 years until Mark won in 2013.  While many conservatives promote the Attorney General position as Virginia’s “chief prosecutor” and prioritize prosecuting cases, most criminal justice work is done by local Commonwealth’s Attorneys.  Criminal justice work is a small fraction of the Attorney General office’s 400 attorneys and other staff’s work.  Since taking office, Mark has grown the office and refocused it to help all Virginians instead of targeting the poor.

Mark has defended legal challenges against our firearm violence prevention laws like our one-gun-a-month law, “red flag” law and universal background checks.  He issued an Attorney General’s opinion to block recognizing weak out-of-state concealed weapon permits.  He also sued to block 3D printed “ghost guns” from hitting the streets.  

Friday, May 14, 2021

River Farm Update - Attorney General Herring Weighs In

We continue meeting among our stakeholder group working out a strategy to maximize the potential that River Farm will remain in public ownership.  Here is what is going on.

You can watch the press conference with Attorney General Mark Herring, Supervisor Dan Storck and Delegate Paul Krizek here:

River Farm Press Conference With Attorney General Mark Herring

News Coverage About River Farm
Several media outlets covered Attorney General Herring's investigation of River Farm. Some of the top stories are highlighted below:

Friday, April 23, 2021

How to Bring the Blue Line To Prince William County

The Virginia Department of Rail and Public Transportation (DRPT) is conducting a survey as part of a feasibility study of enhanced public transportation services which could include options such as additional express bus services, increased VRE commuter rail expansion, Bus Rapid Transit (BRT), or an extension of Metrorail. This survey closes May 15, 2021. DRPT needs to hear that residents want enhanced public transportation options to prioritize funding.

Complete this brief 10-minute survey and have your voice heard about the potential future transit enhancements in Fairfax and Prince William counties.

YOUR COMMENTS ARE NEEDED.  Please complete these comment forms, tell the DRPT how critical these projects are for our community and Northern Virginia.

Save the date and register to attend the upcoming public meeting on May 4 by using this link: 

As always, please reach out to my office at 571-249-4484 or if you have questions or ideas about things we can do to serve the community better.

It is an honor to serve you in Richmond. 

Monday, April 12, 2021

Weekly Column: General Assembly Legalizes Limited Adult Possession of Small Amounts of Marijuana

The following is my column that will appear in the Mt. Vernon Gazette, Springfield Connection, The Prince William Times, The Fort Hunt Herald, and Potomac Local in the week of April 12, 2021.

General Assembly Legalizes Limited Adult Possession of Small Amounts of Marijuana

               This past week, we returned to Richmond for Reconvened Session or Veto Session to consider Governor Northam’s amendments to the state budget and legislation passed during the session.  The Governor vetoed no bills.

               The bill that received the most attention was marijuana legalization.  The bill that passed during the session created a new Virginia Cannabis Control Authority and a series of governing and advisory boards.  During the regular session, there were major differences between the chambers.  We eventually agreed on legislation that repealed civil penalties on adult possession of small amounts of marijuana effective January 1, 2024. 

After we adjourned, we continued our discussions and eventually Governor Northam’s proposed amendments that moved that date up to July 1, 2021.  This was approved largely along party lines.   

Monday, April 5, 2021

Comment on GW Parkway Traffic Safety Changes

 As Mount Vernon Residents know, the GW Parkway is a community jewel but has become increasingly dangerous due to vehicle and pedestrian conflicts with increased traffic.

Elected leaders in the area have been laser focused on finding solutions and working with the National Park Service (NPS) to make improvements. As part of National Park System, the Virginia Department of Transportation does not have jurisdiction over construction so we have been working closely with our federal representatives - Congressman Beyer and Senators Warner and Kaine. Senator Ebbin, Del. Krizek and I have also written several local news columns about the challenges our constituents face on the Parkway.

Surovell: Let’s Work Together to Solve GW Parkway’s Traffic Problem, Fort Hunt Herald (July 15, 2019)
‘Parkway Problems Will Get Worse’, Mt. Vernon Gazette, (May 24, 2017)

The NPS has been engaged in an ongoing safety study to come with solutions, held two public meetings and solicited comments.  In July of 2019, I wrote comments to the National Park Service with my ideas for how to improve the Parkway. After receiving comments from the community, I sent an updates letter. Both of those letters are posted below. 

The NPS just released their proposed safety improvements today.  You can read the full report here:

NPS: GW Parkway Traffic And Safety Context Sensitive Solution Assessment
NPS GW Parkway Study Appendices 

Saturday, April 3, 2021

New Opportunities For Virginia's Oldest Town

In February, Colonial Downs announced a $389 million resort gaming emporium complex in Dumfries called “The Rose.” It has the potential to transform the Town of Dumfries and is part of a larger effort to transform Eastern Prince William County into a series of waterfront mixed-use villages and parks connected by the extension of the Blue Line and the Virginia Railway Express, including Occoquan, Belmont, Potomac Shores, Dumfries and Quantico.  

Twenty years from now, these communities will become destination neighborhoods that anchor Prince William County’s social fabric and tax base and connect Northern Virginians to the Potomac River in ways we can only imagine today.