This past Saturday, I listed my 8 criteria for choosing the Democratic nominee in the 8th CD race. How do these criteria apply to specific candidates? I started with former Virginia Lt. Governor Don Beyer, continued with Del. Mark Sickles, Del. Charniele Herring, and Bruce Shuttleworth. I now turn to former NOVA Urban League CEO Lavern Chatman.
1. The next Representative from the 8th CD should be a strong, rock-solid progressive.
Chatman has never held elective office, so it’s a bit hard to judge. However, she did serve as President and CEO of the Northern Virginia Urban League (NOVAUL) from 2004 to 2011, where she focused on “addressing issues of youth empowerment, financial literacy, affordable housing, closing the education achievement gap, and social justice.” Those are all important progressive issues, and I look forward to hearing a lot more from Lavern Chatman on a wide range of additional issues (e.g., foreign affairs, LGBT equality, women’s health and reproductive freedom, environmental and energy issues, civil liberties…) as this campaign proceeds. For now, I’m going to give Chatman an “incomplete” on this one, although the areas she was involved with certainly indicate strong progressive values.
2. I want to see a tenacious, indefatigable FIGHTER for progressive values.
Ditto to item #1. I’d add that Chatman has donated nearly $9,000 over the years to Virginia candidates, all Democrats with the one exception of $250 to Republican (although she ran as an “Independent”) Alicia Hughes for Alexandria City Council. For a bit more on the, er, “interesting” Hughes, see here and here. I’d be very interested to hear why Chatman donated to her.
3. We need a Representative who will fight for the 8th CD.
I have basically no way at the moment of judging Chatman on this criterion, so I’ll leave it as an “incomplete” for now.
4. We’re going to be losing some big-time seniority and need to build it back up.
Lavern graduated from college in 1979, so I presume she’s in her mid 50s. That should give her a while to build up seniority.
5. We want, need, and deserve a Representative who has the highest ethical standards and who makes us proud every day.
I have no knowledge of any ethical concerns regarding Lavern Chatman. I look forward to learning more about her.
6. A superb, impressive track record of accomplishment over the years.
In 2009, she won the National Urban League Woman of Power Award for distinguished leadership. In addition to her work at the Urban League, she “served on the Board of Directors for Archbishop Carroll High School, Washington, D.C.; The Campagna Center, Alexandria, VA; Fairfax County Chamber of Commerce, INOVA Alexandria Hospital, The Community Foundation of Northern Virginia, WETA Public Broadcasting, and Chaired the Diversity Council for AARP Virginia.” She also “spearheaded a development campaign for this two year project, raising over $300,000 to build, design and create a permanent memorial that tells the story of the domestic slave trade in Alexandria, Virginia.” And she “served on The National League of Cities, Council on Youth, Education & Families, the World Bank’s D.C. Community Outreach Grants Committee, and the Cardinals Circle for the Archdiocese of Washington D.C, and is an active member of the Arlington Chapter of Links, Incorporated and Delta Sigma Theta Sorority.”
Prior to serving with the Urban League in 2004, Chatman was “a marketing representative with the IBM Corporation” (1979-1983), “general manager for a Washington D.C. gospel radio station (WUST-AM)” from 1984 to 1987, “Director of Marketing for Urban Shelters and Health Care Systems” (1988-1993), and “full time-volunteer for various charities and non profit organizations, including America’s Promise – The Alliance for Youth” (1994-2004). And she was “a key campaign strategist and fundraiser for Mayor William D. Euille, the first African American elected as Mayor in the city of Alexandria, VA” (that last one’s interesting, given that Euille is a candidate for this seat as well).
Bottom line: Based on her resume, Chatman has an impressive track record. I’m interested in learning more about her.
7. Obviously, we want someone who will do a great job on “constituent services.”
I have no specific way to judge this for Lavern Chatman, except to look at her past record of service to the community, which is very strong.
8. I want to see a “heavyweight” in this job — someone who is a serious policy wonk, someone who really loves diving into the weeds of legislation, someone who can go toe-to-toe with Republicans and Tea Partiers (and conservative and/or corporate Democrats for that matter) in the battle of ideas.
I’ll have to leave this one as an “incomplete” for now, as I don’t know about her ability to go toe-to-toe with Republicans, Tea Partiers, etc, nor do I know if she’s a serious policy wonk. I’ll be very interested to learn more about her as this campaign proceeds.
Overall: From what I’ve seen, I’d give Chatman high scores (with the exception of the Alicia Hughes contribution), but I’d like to learn a lot more about her. So…for now, I’d give her an “incomplete, but intriguing.”