MEET JIM CHAPMAN
MASON SINCE 1980
by Laura Normand
Some 38 years ago, the citizens of Susanville, Calif. opened
their doors to a fresh-faced Jim Chapman, standing on the stoop
in the middle of a snowstorm, asking for their vote for city council. Chapman was 19 years old.
Chapman won the election, and became the youngest person
in state history to serve on a city council. It was not the last
record he would break: At age 21, he was elected mayor, and
shortly after, county supervisor. At the time, he was the youngest person to serve in either position in the history of California.
This year, Chapman – who, besides serving as Lassen County
supervisor, is past master and current secretary of Lassen
Janesville Lodge No. 149 – is approaching his fourth decade as
an elected public official. Among his proudest accomplishments
are opening up the democratic process for younger people, and
getting his constituency more involved in the decision-making
process. He is also an avid educator and proponent of democracy.
“If I’ve achieved anything in my life,” Chapman says, “it’s the
demonstration that a young person has the same opportunity
and the same right to get involved in democracy as anyone else.
You do matter, you do have a voice.”
In his own words:
Starting young: I was nine years old when John F. Kennedy was
assassinated. It awakened my inner consciousness. I knew then:
I wanted to be a politician. “Ask not what your country can
do for you; ask what you can do for your country” made a big
impression on me.
Finding Masonry: My grandfather was
a Mason. I grew up a block away from a
Masonic lodge. The Oakland Scottish Rite
awarded me a four-year college scholarship.
But it wasn’t until I was county supervisor
that I approached the fraternity. My wife –
then, my fiancé – wanted us to get involved
in Eastern Star. First, I had to become a
Mason. It’s one of the best things that ever
happened to me.
Masonry in public office: In the first degree, there’s a line: “Masonry causes true
friendship to exist among those who might
otherwise have remained at a perpetual
distance.” Masonry has given me the
chance to know a lot of people at a personal level from a wide range of backgrounds.
As a representative, it’s imperative that
you understand what your work means to
the average citizen. What you’re doing can
have a definite impact.