To the Editor:
With an important election less than five weeks away, voters have important decisions to make. One such decision is whether to replace Democrat Linda "Toddy" Puller, the incumbent state senator from the 36th District with Democrat Scott Surovell or Republican Gerald Foreman. Mr. Surovell is currently the 44th District state delegate while Mr. Foreman is currently the mayor of Dumfries, Va.
While Senator Puller has endorsed Mr. Surovell as her successor, incumbency is not a "title" that can be bestowed upon a successor like royalty. Elections are determined by records. In my view, regardless of Mr. Surovell's rhetoric, his record is easily determined by the votes he takes in the Virginia House of Delegates. Those votes tell me that he is even out of the mainstream of Democratic Party thought, a problem that may be difficult to overcome since only 42 percent of registered voters in the 36th Senatorial District live in Fairfax County. The remaining registered voters, 58 percent, reside in Prince William and Stafford counties where Mr. Foreman is better well known. While it has been reported that Mr. Surovell has raised more money than Mr. Foreman, money can't change a voting record.
Looking at Mr. Surovell's voting record, easily accessible on the Internet, I noted the following since 2010. He voted against the biennium budget in 2012 and 2014. In each case, there was bipartisan support for the budget. In 2014: (1) He voted against authorizing legislators to hire counsel to represent Virginia in Court if the Attorney General refuses to do so. Mr. Surovell is a lawyer who thinks Virginia should defend [itself] its Constitution and laws in Court without legal representation where the Attorney General refuses to do so for political reasons which may, incidentally, violate his oath of office. (2) He voted against allowing home-schooled students to participate in public school interscholastic programs. I note that the parents of those children still have to pay the same taxes supporting public schools as any other parents. (3) He voted against authorizing the use of alternative methods of execution where the preferred method is unavailable.
In 2013: (1) He voted against requiring photo identification for voting (also in 2012). (2) He voted against a prohibition of disclosure of holders of permits to carry concealed firearms. Only 22 delegates joined him in opposition. I note that the Bill permitted law enforcement officers to obtain this information. In 2012: (1) He voted against a law requiring law enforcement officers to ask about immigration status during an arrest. Only 24 of his colleagues joined him in opposition. (2) He voted against providing civil immunity for the use of force against intruders into one's home. Only 21 of his colleagues joined him in opposition. (3) He opposed authorizing use of physical force against intruders. Only 27 of his colleagues joined him in opposition. In 2011: He opposed a Bill excluding undocumented immigrants from attending public universities. Only 23 of his colleagues joined him.
In 2010: (1) He opposed a Bill banning human microchip implantation. Only eight of his colleagues joined him. (2) He opposed a Bill allocating off-shore drilling royalties. Only 25 of his colleagues joined him. (3) He opposed a Bill that would have expanded death penalty eligibility to accomplices. Only 23 of his colleagues joined him in opposition.
This is Mr. Surovell's record. Regardless of his campaign rhetoric, these are the types of decisions voters should think about when deciding who to support on Nov. 3. Some of these votes, particularly concerning opposing confidentiality of permits to carry concealed firearms and opposition to the ability of home-schooled children to participate in interscholastic activities strike me as quite mean-spirited. Of course, others are entitled to disagree.
H. Jay Spiegel
Mount Vernon District