As supporters crammed themselves into the small dining area of the Firehouse Grill, state delegate and former city council member J. Chapman "Chap" Petersen (D) declared his intentions to run for re-election.
"I look at this crowd, and I have a vision. … It’s just a wonderful life being a delegate," Petersen said, recalling the Jimmy Stewart movie.
In addition to announcing his intentions to run, Petersen also discussed several legislative items that had failed to pass. He vowed to continue efforts to fix the state budget and modify state funding formulas for education and transportation so more money goes to Northern Virginia. Although Petersen said some citizens consider him a tax-and-spend legislator, Petersen wants to reintroduce legislation he had sponsored that would give localities the option to tax cigarettes at a maximum of 50 cents per pack. Although Fairfax City has that authority, Fairfax County does not. The revenue from the tax rise would go toward school capital improvements.
"Believe me, I’m not only going to win the election, I’m going to put those bills back into Assembly," Petersen said.
Fairfax City Mayor Rob Lederer and City Council member Scott Silverthorne endorsed Petersen, saying his experience as a former City Council member helps Petersen determine what the city needs from the state.
"I have never met another politician who understands strong constituent services like Chap Petersen," said Lederer. "Chap understands first and foremost that we’re friends, we’re a strong community. … I also believe Chap Petersen understands what’s important to the City of Fairfax."
Supervisor Gerald E. Connolly (D-Providence) also endorsed Petersen.
"I just want a delegate who puts Fairfax first … that’s what we need in the General Assembly," said Connolly, who earlier in the day had announced his intention to run for the Board chairman seat in the upcoming election.
Petersen, an attorney, has served as the delegate for the 37th District since 2002. He served on the Science and Technology and Militia Police and Public Safety committees. Before serving in the General Assembly, Petersen was a Fairfax City Council member from 1998 to 2001.