Almost 50 people came out on a blustery day to hear Del. J. Chapman "Chap" Petersen (D-37th) officially announce his candidacy for lieutenant governor of Virginia. "The man standing here is a man of ideas and vision," said City Councilmember R. Scott Silverthorne in his introductory remarks.
Petersen stood on the porch of the Moore House on Chain Bridge Road during the third of three campaign rallies on Dec. 6. "I'm proud to be here today as an independent Democrat," he said. "It's time for a new generation of leadership for the state of Virginia and the Democratic Party.
Democratic candidates must be able to reach out to conservative voters and can't just follow the party line, Petersen said. "We will look for new ideas to do the best we can for the people of Virginia, not for an ideology," he said. "We're not here to change your values. We're here to make it better."
As a priority of his campaign, Petersen noted that transportation, particularly improved rail lines, is necessary. "You can't take a train anywhere fast enough," he said.
Improving train transportation will help to unify the state and act as a catalyst for renewal of downtown areas, Petersen said.
The Fairfax City Democrat also promised to work to spend the people's money wisely. He said that eliminating boards and commissions will help to save taxpayer dollars. "As Democrats we have to be serious about saving people money," Petersen said.
One example he cited would be the ABC board, which controls alcoholic beverages, which Petersen says may have outlived its usefulness. While the ABC generates revenue through its stores statewide, "43 states don't have it, and they make money" he said.
He also hopes to work for funding for higher education.
PETERSEN'S SEAT in the House of Delegates is also up in this year's election. He said that he is considering filing for candidacy in that race also. "I intend to be the nominee for lieutenant governor, but I don't want to be overconfident," he said.
Petersen is researching the legality of running for two offices and is discussing the possibility with state party officials. "It’s up in the air right now," he said. Whatever he does, Petersen intends to have his seat remain in Democratic hands.
Petersen was elected twice to the Fairfax City Council and twice to the House of Delegates. His district encompasses the City of Fairfax and some surrounding areas of Fairfax County.
Although three other Democrats have begun raising funds for a run, Petersen is the first in his party to officially announce his candidacy. On the Republican side, only Sean T. Connaughton, chairman of the Prince William County Board of Supervisors, has officially announced, but several other candidates are positioning themselves for a run.
The Democratic Party primary is June 14, 2005.