On Monday, Susan Chapman was uncertain if she would run for a second term on the City Commission.
On Wednesday, she filed paperwork at City Hall to enter the race, positioning her as the only incumbent in the March election.
Chapman said her decision was based on the desire to continue voicing residents’ concerns as the city considers forthcoming issues such as the form-based zoning code and the effort to combat homelessness.
“I feel a strong sense of obligation to represent my constituents,” she said.
During her time on the board, Chapman has been an outspoken commissioner. Those critical of her views — which tend to focus on neighborhood interests over development — have often painted her as the avatar of what’s wrong with local government.
Chapman said the personal attacks took a toll on her desire to pursue another term. So did a lawsuit filed by the group Citizens for Sunshine, which led to a judge declaring she did not violate the state Sunshine Law.
“I have a long, long record of civic engagement in this city on behalf of the public,” she said. “I didn’t expect to be vilified the way I have been.”
And yet, those attacks have not made Chapman any less outspoken regarding issues she feels strongly about. She believes she’s been positively influencing the direction of the board, and that she’s been responsive to the desires of her constituents.
As a result, Chapman is unwilling to walk away just yet.
“I have a lot of institutional knowledge,” she said. “That’s the part that makes it hard to say I should just throw in the towel and forget about it.”
With one candidate already pointing to the city’s decision to cover Chapman’s legal fees as a campaign issue, Chapman is ready to fight back against her harshest critics on that topic.
“I explain, first of all, that I won the lawsuit,” Chapman said, before taking aim at Citizens for Sunshine representative Michael Barfield. ”And second of all, that somebody needs to recognize — here is a guy who makes his living by filing lawsuits against government. A criminal — a 68-time criminal, a convicted perjurer.”
Chapman’s decision comes a day after Commissioner Suzanne Atwell announced she would not seek re-election next year. So far, two others have officially filed for the race, in which two candidates will earn a seat on the board. If two candidates do not win a majority in the March 14 election, a run-off will be held May 9.