Chap Petersen

Chap Petersen


Current Position: State Senator since 2008
Affiliation: Democrat

Chap has been an attorney in private practice since 1994, successfully representing thousands of local people and businesses. In 2011, his peers selected him as one of thirty “Leaders of the Law” in Virginia.  His law firm, Chap Petersen & Associates, PLC, is located in downtown Fairfax, near the historic Fairfax County courthouse.

Chap began his career in politics by serving on the Fairfax City Council (1998-2002) and as a member in the Virginia House of Delegates (2002-2006).


Chap Petersen 3

Source: Campaign page

John Chapman “Chap” Petersen represents central and western Fairfax in the Virginia State Senate. He grew up and lives in Fairfax City. His family has a long history in Fairfax.

Chap is a graduate of Fairfax High School (1986), Williams College (1990) and the University of Virginia Law School (1994).

Chap has been an attorney in private practice since 1994, successfully representing thousands of local people and businesses. In 2011, his peers selected him as one of thirty “Leaders of the Law” in Virginia.  His law firm, Chap Petersen & Associates, PLC, is located in downtown Fairfax, near the historic Fairfax County courthouse.

Chap began his career in politics by serving on the Fairfax City Council (1998-2002) and as a member in the Virginia House of Delegates (2002-2006).

In 2007, the voters of the 34th Senate District elected Chap as their State Senator. As a Democratic challenger, he defeated the incumbent Jeannemarie Devolites Davis in one of the most expensive legislative races in Virginia history. In doing so, he walked the entire district and wore out several pairs of shoes.

With his historic win, Chap earned the distinction of defeating an incumbent for a seat in both the Virginia House (2001) and Virginia Senate (2007). He is the only member of the legislature to hold that distinction.

In 2011, after redistricting, voters of the “new” 34th Senate District re-elected Chap with 60% of the vote.  He was re-elected again in 2015. The district stretches from Annandale to Centreville and includes the Town of Vienna and City of Fairfax.

Chap is a student of Virginia history, authoring his college thesis on economics and politics in antebellum Virginia. He enjoys traveling the Commonwealth with his family.

Chap’s other love is competitive sports and the outdoors. He is a long-time member of the Northern Virginia Rugby Football Club “Old Boys.”  He has completed the Marine Corps Marathon three times and the Richmond Marathon twice. 


Work Experience


  • BA Economics
    William College
    1990 to present
  • Juris Doctor
    UVA School of Law
    1994 to present


  • President’s Award, Fairfax County Bar Association (2017)
  • Leader in the Law, Virginia Lawyers Weekly (2011)
  • Man of the Year, Korean Association of Washington, D.C. (2008)


Chap is married to Sharon Kim Petersen, who was born in Daegu, South Korea and raised in Cleveland, Ohio. Chap and Sharon have four children.

The Petersens live in Fairfax City and attend Truro Church, where Chap was baptized in 1968 and where he is active in youth education and the choir.

Membership & Affiliation

  • Truro Church


Legislative Assistant: Kathy Neilson



Capitol Office
Pocahontas Building
Room No: E517
Senate of Virginia
P. O. Box 396
Richmond, VA 23218
Phone: (804) 698-7534
Fax: (804) 698-7651

District Office
P.O. Box 1066
Fairfax, VA 22038
Phone: (703) 349-3361
Fax: (800) 635-9417


Government Page, Government Page, Twitter, Facebook


Source: Wikipedia

Petersen served on the Fairfax city council 1998–2001. He was elected to two terms in the House of Delegates, both times (2001 and 2003) defeating his predecessor, Republican Jack Rust.

In 2005, Petersen ran for Lieutenant Governor of Virginia. He was defeated in the Democratic primary, finishing third with 22% of the vote in a four-way race, behind State Senator Leslie L. Byrne and State Delegate Viola Baskerville, but ahead of State Senator Phil Puckett.

In 2006, Petersen was a senior advisor to Democratic Senate candidate Jim Webb, who defeated incumbent Republican Senator George Allen.

2007 State Senate election

Petersen announced his candidacy for the 34th district seat in the State Senate, Wednesday, January 3, 2007. He defeated incumbent Republican Jeannemarie Devolites-Davis, wife of Congressman Thomas M. Davis, in the November 2007 election, taking 55% of the vote. The district had been the most Democratic state senate district held by a Republican

Recent Elections

2019 State SenatorArray

J. C. “Chap” Petersen (D)44,05891.21%
Write-In (Write-in)4,2488.79%

2015 State SenatorArray

Chap Petersen (D)27,69093.6%
Write in (Write-in)1,8816.4%

2011 State SenatorArray

Chap Petersen (D)23,66259.7%
Gerarda Marie Culipher (R)15,93340.2%
Write in (Write-in)25.1%

2007 State SenatorArray

Chap Petersen (D)25,51355.3%
Jeannemarie Devolites Davis (R)20,49044.4%
Write in (Write-in)102.2%

Source: Virginia Legislative Information System


Source: Follow the Money



Agriculture, Conservation and Natural Resources
Courts of Justice
Education and Health


Intergovernmental Cooperation, Virginia Commission on
Civic Education, Commission on

Voting Record

See: Vote Smart

New Legislation

Source: Virginia Legislative Information System


News Posts

Real-world experience: A proposal to cure senior-itis
January 21, 2019

In my small law practice, I hire a lot of young people. I need interns for research, assistants to answer phones, and paralegals to prepare cases. Every summer, I hire summer assistants right out of high school. Some of these kids work out great, but a lot of them arrive in the workplace unprepared for professional life.

For many of these young people, professionalism, timeliness, consistency, and competency are inconsistent at best. I am not blaming the kids. I am blaming the way our current K-12 system operates.

Back in the ancient times (known as the 1980s) when I was in high school, we all worked. Almost everyone had a part-time job during the school year, and if you didn’t, you definitely had a summer job.

That experience of employment, and the responsibility it entailed, prepared young people for entering the professional workforce and, for some select students, moving on to higher education.

These days, due to changes in the economy and the current drive for extracurricular activities, most high school students don’t work.

These days, most of the professions formerly monopolized by high school students — mowing lawns, waiting tables, babysitting — are currently handled by adults, many of whom are recent immigrants.

Meanwhile, nearly all high school students go on to at least some level of higher education. But that doesn’t prepare them for the responsibility of work when they graduate.

To address this, I’m proposing to re-tool the 12th grade for the 21st century.

We need to give students the flexibility to get out of the classroom and into real-world working situations, whether an internship, an apprenticeship, a credentialing program, or just an old-fashioned job.

By their second semester, most seniors have applied to college, or have already been accepted. So the time for academic heavy lifting is over. Moreover, a lot of senior-year coursework is not required for graduation. (Most of today’s high-achieving youngsters have completed these prerequisites ahead of time).

The end result is that senior year of high school is largely a waste of time — a drawn-out Waiting for Graduation. (As a parent of three teenagers, I know of what I speak).

Rather than having these seniors go stale in a classroom, why not get them out in the open air of a courtroom, hospital, gourmet restaurant, or automotive shop?

My bill, SB 1147, gives local school boards the freedom to award academic credit for work-based learning experiences during senior year. This unique measure will allow flexibility and adaptability for teenagers preparing to move from high school to adulthood. Groups like labor unions, public defender offices, or retail stores can provide real-world experience in showing up on time, dressing for success, and dealing with demanding customers.

SB 1147 is a cure for senior-itis. It teaches real-world skills and gets our young people out into the workforce at a time when they can learn — and we can learn from them.

Recent Events

Bulova/Petersen 2019 Town Hall
When: February 2, 2019 12:00 am
Where: Fairfax City Hall Council Chambers at 10455 Armstrong Street
Who: David Bulova and Chap Petersen

Go to this post to see videos and read more about Town Hall.




Chap Petersen Discusses Atlantic Coast Pipeline & Mountain Valley Pipeline
Published on May 17, 2018

Other Videos

Bulova/Petersen Town Hall
Published on February 2, 2019

When: Saturday February 2nd at 9:00 to 11:00 am
Where:   Fairfax City Hall Council Chambers at 10455 Armstrong Street (parking in rear of City Hall offices)
Web:  Recorded by Nic Barta for Virginia onAir edited by Ny-jhee Jones.

Summary of the event – Go to this post.


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