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 proud 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, Surovell Isaacs Petersen & Levy, PLC, is located in downtown Fairfax, across the street from 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. The district stretches from Annandale to Centreville and includes the Town of Vienna and City of Fairfax.
As a Senator, Chap has been the chief patron on several successful bills, including SB 510 (2008) which guaranteed our college students the right to a fairly priced student loan. He was the author of the SAVE Act in 2010 (SB 113), which successfully upgraded Virginia’s natural gas system, and SB 848 in 2011 which toughened environmental laws on corporate polluters in northern Virginia.
In 2010, Chap successfully patroned SB 110 or the “PACE bill,” which created an innovative system for allowing property-assessed clean energy investments. He has been a leader in promoting clean energies, such as closed-loop geothermal, in Virginia.
Finally, as a State Senator, Chap has fought hard for First Amendment rights and consumer protections. In 2011, he was the chief patron of the “academic free speech” bill (SB 831) and the bill targeting “foreclosure fraud” (SB 837). Each bill passed the Senate in 2011 but died in the House.
Chap is a student of Virginia history, authoring his college honors thesis on economics and politics in antebellum Virginia. He enjoys traveling the Commonwealth with his family. The Petersens regularly make it to the Old Time Fiddler’s Convention in Galax, the Oyster Festival in Urbanna and the Rock’n Roll Half Marathon in Virginia Beach.
Chap’s other love is competitive sports and the outdoors. He is a member of the Northern Virginia Rugby Football Club and plays on its “Old Boys” squad. He has thrice completed the Marine Corps Marathon (most recently in 2010) and runs in local road races. Finally, he enjoys hiking, fishing and hunting with friends and family.
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. He is also the Den Leader for his son’s Tiger Cubs troop.