Chap Petersen

Chap Petersen


Current Position: State Senator for District 34 since 2008
Affiliation: Democrat

Chap Petersen was first elected Senator for the 34th District in 2008. The 34th District includes the city of Fairfax and parts of Fairfax County.

Senator Petersen is Chair of the Agriculture, Conservation and Natural Resources Committee  and is a member of the Education and Health, Finance and Appropriations, Judiciary, and Rules committees. Senator Petersen was a member of the Virginia House of Delegates from 2002 to 2006.


School reopening

Three Virginia lawmakers say schools hoping to receive state dollars next year should be required to open for in-person learning in the fall.

At the Science Museum of Virginia on Wednesday, state Sens. Joe Morrissey, D-Richmond; Siobhan Dunnavant, R-Henrico; and Chap Petersen, D-Fairfax City, announced their intention to introduce a budget amendment this week to make state school funding contingent on a plan to welcome students back to classrooms, regardless of COVID-19 spread.

As of last month, 52 out of 132 school divisions were operating on a fully remote basis, according to the state education department; many have remained virtual since Gov. Ralph Northam last March ordered buildings shuttered to mitigate the spread of the potentially lethal virus.

Virginia lawmakers consider legislation to speed vaccinations
Joe DashiellJanuary 21, 2021 (Short)

The measure would streamline the requirements for health professionals who want to volunteer, and help identify more locations where the state could establish mass vaccination sites. It provides civil and criminal immunity to individuals and organizations acting within the provisions of the bill.

“I have people from the medical community that want to help,” Dunnavant told members of the committee. “This is what they do. Our dentists, our doctors, our nurses, our nurse anesthetists, our NPs, this is what they do. They help people and they want to help us get this job done.”The legislation has bipartisan support.

“Getting people vaccinated in the most efficient way possible is in our joint interest,” said Sen. Chap Petersen (D-Fairfax). “I hope every senator will read this legislation and if they see fit, will put their name on it and take credit for it.”

Lawmakers are considering a bill aimed at making sure guns are not available to people who shouldn’t have them. Delegate Elizabeth Guzman is a Democrat from Prince William County who introduced a bill to create new penalties for gun owners who don’t secure their firearms from people who live with them and aren’t allowed to have a gun.

“If we’re going to make the decision to live with someone, for the safety of our families, we will ensure that there is a criminal background check if it’s going to be a stranger,” Guzman explained.

“Anyone you live with? They should do a criminal background check,” asked Petersen. That question was from Senator Chap Petersen, a Democrat from Fairfax City who’s critical of the idea that people can be held liable for guns that are in the possession of someone they live with.



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, Campaign Site, 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 Senator

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

2015 State Senator

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

2011 State Senator

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

2007 State Senator

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


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