Last week, we asked the candidates for the Democratic nomination in the 8th District congressional race to write a sub-750 word essay describing why Arlington residents should vote for them in the June 10 primary.
Here is Lavern Chatman’s unedited response:
I’m running for Congress to get things done for all families in the 8th District. The challenges we face demand a new type of leadership and a fresh perspective in Washington. I was born and raised in a working class family in Northern Virginia — my mom was a 30-year postal employee and my dad an automobile mechanic — where my four siblings and I learned the importance of hard work and education.
As President and CEO of the Northern Virginia Urban League, my work focused on social justice, affordable housing, youth empowerment, financial literacy, and eliminating the education achievement gap. I built collations — collaborated with businesses, churches, community leaders, and elected officials — to positively impact underserved families throughout Northern Virginia. We provided scholarships and mentoring programs to youth, retrained seniors to re-enter the workforce, and reduced the infant mortality rate among teen mothers.
I co-founded the NOVA Coalition, a group of more than 30 churches, non-profits, fraternities and sororities, focused on increasing voter participation, voter restoration, and civic engagement. During the 2010 Census, we traveled to hard-to-count communities in Northern Virginia to enable all communities to increase their rightful share of federal and state funding.
My experience working in the trenches with Democrats, Republicans and Independents to find real solutions to real problems affecting our community is what I would take to Congress.
I will work to ensure women receive equal pay for equal work because closing the wage gap benefits women and working families, in addition to our economy. Women are earning 77 cents to the dollar compared to men. Minority women are earning less than that at 59 to 56 cents. In a dual-income household, if one spouse is getting paid less, that means fewer resources for the entire family.
I will support legislation to end discrimination, protect voting rights, increase access to capital for women and minority-owned businesses, and pass comprehensive immigration reform to create a pathway to citizenship for millions of New Americans.
I understand the challenges small businesses in the 8th District face to stay economically viable. My late husband built a company to 400 employees, incubating other companies to help them grow. In 1993, we sold the company and started the Chatman Fund at the Northern Virginia Community Foundation to support development programs for underserved children in the region.
When the government shutdown happened last year, Congressman Jim Moran called on me to bring together local businesses to identify solutions to maintain economic stability. Our group is working to strengthen federal legislation to ensure small businesses are not left out of the federal contracting process.
As your next U.S. Congresswoman, I will continue working to increase economic and educational opportunities for all. I have a proven track record of putting our progressive values into action and I ask for your vote in the Democratic primary on June 10th!