Local Commentary

Senator Dick Saslaw’s Richmond Report

On Nov. 5, all 140 seats in the General Assembly will be on the ballot. Incumbents as well as newcomers from both sides of the aisle are embroiled in primary contests. The primary will occur on June 11. Absentee voting is open and will continue through June 8. There are twenty applicable reasons for voting absentee whether in person or by mail. A comprehensive list of reasons may be found at elections.virginia.gov/casting-a-ballot/absentee-voting/index.html. A few reasons include business outside your county or city of residence on Election Day, a disability, illness or being a caretaker for someone with either, service as a first responder, and personal travel on Election Day.

I encourage you to vote in this primary and ask for your consideration. In the 35th Senate District, there primaries for delegate and state senate seats in the Northern Virginia region and depending on the locality you live in, there will be a primary to nominate the local supervisor and chairman of the Board of Supervisors.

This November, we have an opportunity to take the majority in both the Senate and House of Delegates. Based on what I am hearing as I visit with neighbors in our community, it appears as though you are ready for the change. Among other important issues, I remain committed to working on fair and equitable redistricting. The 2020 Census should be properly funded for the outreach that accurately reflects population density in the legislative districts that will be drawn in 2021.

Putting an end to gerrymandering, Senator Barker and I were able to get a resolution (SJ 360) through the 2019 General Assembly as a first leg of the process. This resolution calls for a citizen/legislator commission to be put to referendum in the 2020 general election. Mind you the measure must be voted by the elected legislators assembled come next January. I will keep working on this amendment to ensure its passage.

Recently, I was honored to participate in the ribbon cutting for Miller House. This CRI project will be home to 5 intellectually-disabled constituents. Thank you to the Miller family for donating its land to the City of Falls Church. Under the leadership of the Mayor and Council, a wonderful asset has been made available for these individuals and their families. It is gratifying to have helped bring the project to life.

Our quality of life is affected by our ability to get around the region. With winter in the rearview mirror, you will see a stepped-up effort in our infrastructure improvements. Despite a relatively mild winter, potholes abound on our roads. For a paving schedule visit the VDOT map at vdot.maps.arcgis.com/apps/webappviewer/index.html?id=fbf86e85fdcb43e482432f41ddbb51c7. VDOT is addressing its maintenance issues as quickly as possible and within its budget. I continue to work closely with them to ensure our roads are safe with additional car maintenance costs to constituents.

Commuting in the region may prove more challenging than what summer normally brings to our area. Announced a year ago, Metro’s Platform Improvement Project includes reconstruction efforts to address safety and accessibility concerns and structural deterioration because of exposure to outdoor elements. The accelerated schedule will address six stations this year, with crews scheduled to work around the clock. Six Blue and Yellow line stations south of Reagan National Airport are scheduled to be closed from Saturday, May 25 – Sunday, Sept. 8. Free parking will be offered at Huntington, Franconia-Springfield, and Van Dorn Street stations. Additionally, free shuttle buses will move people to their destinations. If possible, now is the time to get into carpools throughout the district. We must try to get cars off the road during the tourist season while we continue to live, work and play.

Lastly, one of Virginia’s educators received the NEA National Teacher of the Year award. Congratulations to Rodney Robinson, a 19-year teaching veteran currently working in Richmond’s Juvenile Detention Center. Robinson is a graduate of VSU and VCU. Virginia is fortunate to have such dedicated individuals developing our children for their future.

Senator Saslaw represents the 35th District in the Virginia State Senate. He may be emailed at district35@senate.virginia.gov.