Profile: Dick Saslaw, 35th District State Senator
Saslaw is running for re-election as representative of the 35th District against challenger Robert Sarvis
At A Glance
- Born: Washington, D.C.
- Education: B.S. in Economics, University of Maryland
- Family: Married, one daughter
- Occupation: Businessman
- Public Office: Senator, 35th District Virginia State Senate
With over 30 years of experience in politics, Richard L. Saslaw is running for re-election to represent the 35th District. The 35th District consists of part of Annandale, Fairfax, Falls Church, Springfield and the City of Alexandria.
Born and raised in Washington, D.C. the incumbent democrat has lived in Northern Virginia since 1968. “There’s a lot that needs to happen in this state and I think I can be a part of Virginia moving forward,” said Saslaw of his decision to file for re-election.
Although he and his family reside in Springfield, Saslaw said he’s spent a lot of time in Annandale. When he’s not working on solving issues in the 35th district, he and his family enioy hanging out at Silverado’s.
Before he was elected to the Senate in 1980, Saslaw served in the United States Army from 1958 to 1960. Five years later, he obtained his Bachelor of Science degree in economics from the University of Maryland. Prior to his election to the Senate, he was a member of the Virginia House of Delegates from 1976 to 1980.
Currently, Saslaw serves as Senate Majority Leader and chairs several committees, including the Senate Commerce and Labor Committee and the subcommittee on transportation for the Senate Finance Committee.
Outside of public office, Saslaw has spent much of his career in the gasoline business. While he thinks his business background has helped him in his public office, he believes his years of experience give him his biggest edge over republican challenger Robert Sarvis.
“You have to learn the process. Running a government is different than running a business,” said Saslaw. “You’re playing with other people’s money.”
Of the issues affecting the 35th district, Saslaw said transportation and education are two of his biggest concerns. Education, in particular, plays a big role in his family. His wife, Eleanor, is a former guidance counselor guidance at West Springfield High School and now serves as the president of the Virginia State Board of Education. “We’ve had two arguments in 43 years and Eleanor’s won both of them,” said Saslaw.
Their daughter, Jennifer, is a graduate of Thomas Jefferson High School for Science and Technology and is now an attorney in California. “That’s a real gem for this county,” Saslaw said of the school.
In order to be economically successful in the future, Saslaw believes there’s still work to be done in our education system. “If we’re going to compete with the rest of the world, we’re going to need to go to school more than 180 days out of the year. While a kid here is a sophomore in high school, kids in Europe and Asia are already in college,” sald Saslaw. “We also need to get away from the one size fits all of the Standards of Learning (SOL) test."
Saslaw said he’s a big advocate for transportation and supports the Dulles metrorail projects and the HOT Lanes, which affect much of his district. "Transportation problems are going to be around for quite a while," said Saslaw, who also acknowledged the traffic congestion coming to the area due to Base Realignment and Closure (BRAC). Saslaw said he’s never believed in the decision to have the Mark Center site in Alexandria. “The state had no say in this. The federal government decides where they want to go,” Saslaw said.
As Fairfax County continues to evolve, Saslaw said he remains committed to using his role in the Senate to improve the lives of his constituents. “This the best state to have your kid educated in and the top state to do business in. This is a business friendly state and a top state for your kid to be educated in,” said Saslaw.