Scott Surovell became the delegate to Virginia’s 44th District almost by accident two years ago, when then-incumbent Democrat Kristen Amundson, in office since 1999, changed her mind about running after winning her primary.
The House Minority Leader contacted Surovell. “He said he needed me to run,” said Surovell, a lawyer who quickly decided he could translate his legal know-how and understanding of the area he grew up in into serving in the General Assembly. He put a campaign into gear. He went on to win the seat less than five months later with 53.4 percent of the vote in a three-person race.
He didn’t stop running when he hit Richmond for his first term, introducing bills and as a minority freshman, even seeing some pass, he said. Some of his top legislative accomplishments were creating licensing requirements for home-energy auditors, closing the school bus reckless driving loophole, and helping get the Route 1 transit study funded.
Surovell said he quickly learned "...to get things done in Richmond, you have to have friends on both sides of the aisle or you’re never going to get anything done."
Today, Surovell hopes District 44 voters send him back to the capital on Nov. 8. Some of the hot-button issues (he's got a running list of 75 to 80 proposals) Surovell hopes to continue to work on include:
- Route 1 Transit Study: “It’s our hope that the study will bring some clarity to the Route 1 debate, on what it will look like: Metro, bus route, light rail?” said Surovell. “In Arlington, in Ballston, they did it.” He noted that possibly extending the Yellow Line down Route 1 is a “20- to 25-year discussion” and that widening the road could be a short-term answer.
Answering critics who say it’s time to do something right now about Route 1, Surovell noted: “I think the most important thing to know is it would be illegal to do anything to Route 1 without a transit study. This isn’t another study for the sake of doing a study. It’s the next step in order to do something to Route 1. There are a lot of people and governments [federal, state and local] with their fingers in this.”
- Green initiatives: “Virginia doesn’t provide near the same tax benefits that surrounding states do for solar and geothermal improvements to homes, businesses or charities,” Surovell said. “I want to bring Virginia up to speed.”
- Preschools: “My kids get four years of education before they get to kindergarten,” said Surovell. “The Fairfax County childcare services waiting list has 3,000 children on it. The state needs to step up to the plate. The county should also step up to the plate… I would hope educating children who don’t have the same opportunities as other kids would be a priority.”
For Scott Anthony Surovell, serving the 44th District has always been a family affair. Some of those top initiatives—helping fix Route 1, adding more preschools and helping consumers take advantage of green initiatives, come second nature to him, considering his upbringing.
The 40 year-old husband and father of four lives in the historic neighborhood, a woodsy enclave off of Fort Hunt Road where he grew up one of two children of dad Robert, a lawyer, and mom Glenda, an environmentalist.
The neighborhood was founded by a group of determined idealists that included Surovell’s grandparents, Sam and Flossie Surovell. They banded together with a group of 19 other families and founded the Tauxemont neighborhood in the '40s, buying the land and building the homes in a cooperative. Earlier, Sam Surovell was a muralist for the Works Progress Administration and later started his own engraving business.
Surovell’s grandparents at first were shunned by Virginia Democrats in the ‘30s, when they first moved to the area and lived on then-unpaved Gallows Road in Fairfax County, according to their grandson. “They were Jews from Brooklyn—the Democratic Party would have nothing to do with them,” Surovell said recently, in between sips of a Diet Coke at his campaign headquarters off of Route 1.
Today, Surovell’s children attend the preschool his grandparents helped build in the Tauxemont community. Surovell is married to Erinn Madden, a tax attorney. "She's a saint and puts up with me," he said. The two, married for 11 years, are raising their four children Eva, 10, Leia, 9, Mara, 6 and Colin, 5, who stay busy playing soccer and taking ballet lessons, piano and gymnastics.
Part of the first class at , Surovell graduated from James Madison University with a degree in political science, and then earned a law degree from the University of Virginia. Today Surovell is a partner with his father at Surovell, Isaacs, Petersen & Levy in Fairfax.
After college and before embarking on his career, a college buddy asked Surovell to ride in a cross-country bicycle road trip with him. At first Surovell thought he'd pass. But then, he decided to take him up on the offer and the two road their bicycles from Oregon to Virginia Beach in 46 days.
“I felt like if I could pull that off,” he said, “I could accomplish anything.”