City Council-Alexandria: John Taylor Chapman
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City Council-Alexandria: John Taylor Chapman

Question & Answer

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John Taylor Chapman



Democrat

Age: 34

Family: mother, Michelle and sister, Jennifer

Education including degrees and institutions: Saint Olaf College, c/o 2003, 2009 Graduate of Virginia Commonwealth’s Minority Political Leadership Institute, 2010 Graduate of University of Virginia’s Sorensen Institute Political Leadership Program

Offices held, dates: City Council, elected 2012

Occupation and relevant experience: Community Use Program Specialist, Fairfax County Public Schools

Community involvement:

Boards and Commissions:

  • Eco-City Alexandria Environmental Action Plan Steering Committee 2013-present
  • Sister Cities Committee 2013-present
  • Eisenhower East Design Review Board 2013-present
  • Gang Prevention Community Task Force 2013-present
  • Children, Youth and Families Collaborative Commission 2013-present
  • Alexandria Campaign on Adolescent Pregnancy (ACAP) 2013-present
  • Metro Washington Council of Governments—Human Services and Public Safety Committee 2013-present
  • Alexandria Budget and Fiscal Affairs Advisory Commission, 2011-2012
  • Alexandria Youth Policy Commission, 2007-2011; Vice Chair, 2009-2011
  • Alexandria Commission on HIV/AIDS, 2005-2007; Chair, 2006-2007
  • ACPS Budget Advisory Committee, 2007-2008
  • ACPS Special Education Advisory Committee, 2011-2012
  • St. Stephen’s and St. Agnes School Alumni Board Member, 2006- 2012
  • Advisory Board Member of the Concerned Citizens Network of Alexandria, 2010-Present

Non-Profit work:

  • NAACP- Alexandria Branch President, 2011-2012
  • Taylor Run Citizens Association, 2008-Present
  • Northern Virginia Urban League Young Professionals Network, Political Engagement Committee Chair, 2009
  • Board Member of First Night Alexandria, 2011-2012
  • Board Member of Volunteer Alexandria, 2008- 2012
  • Sorensen Institute for Political Leadership, University of Virginia, Class of 2010
  • Virginia Commonwealth University’s Minority Political Leadership Institute, Class of 2008
  • Virginia Commonwealth University’s Minority Political Leadership Institute, Program Advisory Board, 2008-Present
  • Alexandria Lacrosse Club, Coach, 2009-2010

Political:

  • Alexandria Young Democrats, 2005–Present; President, 2006-2008
  • Virginia Young Democrats, 2005-2010; Minority Caucus Chair 2007, National Committee Member, 2008-2010

Website: www.chapman 4council.com

Email address: chapman4council@gmail.com

Twitter handle: @chapman4council

Name three favorite endorsements: Education Association of Alexandria, Alexandria Committee of Police, Local 5, Northern Virginia Association of Realtors

QUESTIONS:

What is one issue that defines your call to serve, why does it matter, and how will you tackle it?

Affordable housing is the issue that has pushed me to run for city council. I believe that our community needs to continue to have housing options for all income levels, local government needs to work with the development community, non-profits and especially our faith-based communities to find creative solutions so that none of us are forced out of a community that we all love.

  1. What distinguishes you from your opponents and why should voters choose you?

My expertise and experience in the field of education and youth policy. I am the ONLY candidate who has served on both the school board’s budget advisory committee and also the city’s budget and fiscal affairs advisory committee. This is extremely important because school and youth funding makes up over 30% of the city budget, and we need someone on council that has an intimate knowledge of both, especially now when we are looking to deal with school capacity in a fiscally responsible way. I am also the only candidate that has worked full-time in our local schools, so I know the experience of students and staff, and understand the supports they need from the city.

I believe you should choose me because we should not have a governing body which does not have members that don’t intimately know and understand 30% of its own budget.

Beyond funding, how else can city government help the school system?

City government can support the school system by leading the community wide discussion on pre-K programs, after school programs and workforce training programs. By ensuring that the schools and community partners and non-profits all understand their own place in each of those three programmatic areas, this city can create a successful and seamless transition for our students throughout their lives and ensure that the proper supports are available for them so that they become successful students and then successful adults.

City government can also ensure that social service programs are available to ensure that we have healthy families and we need to continue to fund libraries and make sure our families have access to improve literacy and the love of learning.

How do you convince citizens that you are truly listening to them even when you have to disagree with them?

I believe that you have to take the suggestions of citizens, and explain the specifics of how or why a suggestion does not work, maybe because of lack of funding or other unintended consequences. I also believe that constant dialogue with citizens will allow for greater transparency with decision making, and also better align policy making with the will of the citizens.

Any number of economic hiccups beyond the city's control (federal government, economic downturn, etc.) could force re-ordering of city budget priorities. For reductions, which three areas would you turn to first?

The first thing that I would look at is the city’s equipment replacement policies, for things like the city’s car fleet, because by slowing down how quickly we replace well maintained equipment, we would save money. I would look to adjust some of our partnership and funding formula with third party organizations such as WMATA and I would also look at city positions, such as in our courts, where the city is subsidizing jobs that are the state’s responsibility to fund fully.

If you were given $1 million to spend any way you would like for the betterment of the city, how would you spend it?

I am torn — For immediate impact, I would want to spend it on improving our road surfaces, but also I would want to use it to tackle one of our communities biggest issues — affordable housing, because we have seen that $1 million, when loaned to one of our non-profit developers, can be used to retain affordable housing in the city.