2024 Voter Guide: John Taylor Chapman (City Council)

2024 Voter Guide: John Taylor Chapman (City Council)
John Taylor Chapman is one of 11 Democratic primary candidates for City Council. (Graphic/Jessica Kim)

Want to read the 2024 Voter Guide in full? Click here to be taken to all of the Democratic primary candidates’ responses. 

Age: 42

Occupation: Community Use Specialist, tour company owner

Bio:  I’m a fourth-generation Alexandrian, a four-term councilmember, a business owner and former educator. My focus is fighting for quality schools, small businesses, housing affordability and economic opportunity. My experience includes sevice on over 20 city and nonprofit boards and I currently lead the Northern Virginia Regional Commission.

Rank the following issues from most to least important:

  1. Affordable housing
  2. Crime/safety
  3. Commercial tax diversity
  4. Ethics
  5. Economy/inflation
  6. Historic preservation
  7. Environmental protection
  8. Equity
  9. Increasing density
  10. Other 

What’s the biggest problem facing Alexandria right now?

The lack of affordability of housing across the board, but especially for our seniors and our working-class citizens. It is much more expensive for new Alexandrians to own in the city and tougher for current Alexandrians to stay here.

What’s your top policy priority?

Ensuring that the city conducts an Economic Sustainability Summit and that it creates a 10-year Economic Sustainability Plan.

What qualifies you to be elected?

Besides being a native Alexandrian with 11 years of experience on City Council, I am one of the few candidates that is a business owner and has served on the city’s and Alexandria Public Schools’ budget advisory committees. I have also helped to evolve our local government by aiding in creating the Stormwater Utility and Flood Mitigation Advisory Committee, the ARHA workgroup, AlexRenew subcommittee, the Children Youth and Families Commission and the AdHoc Fort Ward Management Plan Implementation Advisory Group.

What’s the city’s biggest long-term challenge?

The biggest long-term challenge is going to be affordability for residents and business. As real estate continues to be more expensive, Alexandrians will feel these pressures more due to our limited space.

What is Alexandria’s greatest strength and how would you utilize it?

Our biggest strength is our story. When we tell our story – our early Alexandrian history – we can attract scores of visitors from around the region and the world. When we tell our current story – the successes of our businesses and our community – we separate ourselves from other communities of similar size.

How should the city work to diversify the commercial tax base?

The city is going to need to use multiple tactics to attract and retain businesses of all sizes. Those tactics should include re-establishing the retail pop-up program to fill vacant storefronts, continuing to improve our permitting processes and expanding AEDP and the city’s resources to support businesses.

What policies would make Alexandria safer?

Policies supporting additional community policing efforts and better use of technology supporting our officers. To increase safety around mobility, we need to look at vehicle speeds, road design and enforcement.

Do you think Alexandria has too much density, about the right amount, or not enough?

The answer depends on the neighborhood. Some neighborhoods, like Old Town, have enough. Others, like Eisenhower Valley, do not.

What should go into Potomac Yard now that the arena plan was pulled?

I would really love a corporate headquarters, but that is probably not happening in this
market. Other ideas could be a small convention or concert space, co-located with housing.