Editor’s note: This Q&A is one in a series that aims to allow voters to get to know candidates who are running in the Aug. 2 primary. Nooga.com sent questionnaires to candidates on the ballot. We will post responses as we get them.
Jones was born in Chattanooga and graduated from Chattanooga High School in 1972 and from UTC in 1976. He has lived in District 26 most of his life.
He’s a former social worker, commercial loan officer and CFO of a 75-employee manufacturing business.
He’s also served on nonprofit boards, including the North Chattanooga Council of the Chattanooga Chamber of Commerce and 28th Legislative District Community Development Corporation.
Jones categorizes himself as a “free-market Democrat.”
He is facing another Democrat Jean-Marie Lawrence in the Aug. 2 primaries.
Local Republican Robin Smith is also seeking the office, which Rep. Gerald McCormick is vacating.
What opportunities do you see in your district’s near future and how do you plan to help seize them?
District 26 has a mixture of tech businesses (Edney Building and Innovation District downtown) and traditional businesses. Our “job doers” are hardworking. With continuous training for both employees and management, there is no reason that District 26 can’t lead the state in productivity growth.
What is the most crucial challenge facing your district and/or the state, and how you plan to address it?
I think, in general, incomes are too low to allow many of our residents a decent standard of living. With unemployment at historic lows, it is time to focus on good-paying jobs and not just jobs. But we have to encourage a gradual increase in incomes so that District businesses can adjust. Historically, an increase in income for those at the lower end of the income scale is spent, which helps to offset an increase in wage costs for businesses. I also want our government to aggressively support both traditional education and continuing education so that the productivity of our workers continuously improves, benefiting both the worker and the employer.
If elected, what issues do you want to focus on and why?
As mentioned above, I want to focus on education and training so that incomes can rise while not making our businesses less competitive. I also want to make affordable health care available to everyone. In the long run, the benefits of preventive care should improve many lives while not costing government and taxpayers more money.
What does transparency in government mean to you, and what actions would you take, if any, to increase transparency in government?
Since I am not in government now, I am not sure how transparency can be made better. But I am certainly for government being transparent to the taxpayers who fund it.
How do you believe a leader should handle people they don’t get along or agree with?
By listening to them.
What do you want the public to know about your background or personal life if anything?
I have been divorced twice, which is a source of embarrassment for me, but I have been married for 19 years to my current wife. After two divorces, it took a lot of guts for me to marry again. But I am glad that I did.
Why should residents vote for you and not one of your opponents?
Having lived in the district for approx. 60 of my 64 years, I have love and respect for a multitude of people in the district from all walks of life. I believe that I am uniquely capable to represent all of the folks in District 26. I have spent my career and adult life helping businesses, people, and neighborhoods succeed.
What is your personal motivation for running for this office and wanting to lead?
I believe that I can work across the aisle to make our state and district better. I have never run for office and decided last Summer that it was my time to step up.