By Missy Schrott | [email protected]
City Councilor John Chapman announced Jan. 3 that he will seek reelection for another term on council.
Since being first elected in 2012, the educator and small business owner has been an advocate for affordable housing, small businesses and city schools. He said the theme for his reelection campaign is making sure there is opportunity in Alexandria.
“It’s about opportunity here in the city, and council needs to ensure that,” Chapman said, “whether it’s housing opportunity, whether it’s business opportunity, whether it’s opportunity for people to be able to grow a family … That’s the opportunity that I’ve been blessed with, and that’s the opportunity that I hope is for the next generation of Alexandrians.”
He said during his time on council, one of his greatest accomplishments has been helping improve a bonus density policy that brings more affordable housing to the city in development projects.
In addition, he said he’s been happy about his work championing new opportunities and resources for economic development and partnerships so that businesses can thrive in Alexandria.
Fellow councilor Willie Bailey said he appreciated Chapman’s advocacy for affordable housing, workforce housing and the senior community.
Beyond legislative work, Bailey said he and Chapman often attended community events together.
“We go to a lot of different events where there are kids of color and … they’re not really used to seeing a lot of the politicians and city council folks at their events, so it’s nice that I’m there, he’s there and the kids can kind of look up to us,” Bailey said.
Chapman is a career educator and works as a Community Use Program Specialist for Fairfax County Public Schools. He also runs a small business, Manumission Tour Company, which provides guided cultural history tours about the experiences of Africans and African Americans in Alexandria.
Councilor Del Pepper said she is happy Chapman will be running again.
“I think it’s wonderful that he is going to be running for reelection. I think that he has contributed a great deal to the city council, and I’ve certainly enjoyed working with him,” she said.
Both Bailey and Pepper said they also plan to run for reelection this year.
While Chapman said he is proud of what he’s accomplished, he said the reason he’s running for reelection is that the work is not done yet.
“I wish we had made more movement on improving the business climate,” he said. “I think we’ve made some improvements, but … I think there are a number of communities that don’t feel the benefit to some of the improvements we’ve made, so making sure that our businesses stay competitive with others in the region is always a key concern.”
Chapman said he wants to continue working on improving regulations so that business owners spend less time at city hall and more time focusing on their businesses. He also said he wants to revisit the BID conversation.
“Our BID conversation was a good conversation to have, but I don’t like where we ended,” he said. “Sparking that conversation – how does city hall get out of the way of business and really let folks function and improve their business? How do we set the opportunity up for them to be successful?”
Former Mayor Bill Euille said he has known Chapman for most of his life through family ties.
“I have a unique personal relationship with John and I applaud his commitment and dedication as a member of the Alexandria city council,” Euille said.
Not only was Euille Alexandria’s mayor during Chapman’s first term on council, he said he’s watched him grow as a councilor over the past six years.
“He was somewhat shy and bashful initially up front,” he said. “He had to go through the learning curve, but I have seen him grow into the job. He’s a very well spoken individual. He thinks before he speaks. He asks very pertinent questions, and he’s a team player.”
Looking forward, Chapman said council needs to focus on the future of Alexandria.
“In terms of new things that we will see is a better long term vision for the city,” he said. “What does the city look like in 20 years? What does it look like in 50 years? I think we need to start moving in that direction and making some major changes to how we operate, what we look like, how our structures function.”