Hardworking dad inspired solicitor

Chris Thelen/Staff
Richmond County State Solicitor Harold Jones had an interest in politics early on, and that, combined with a strong work ethic instilled by his father, led him to pursue law.

Harold V. Jones II took a small token from his hero on his first day on the job in the State Solicitor's Office years ago.

The thirtysomething-year-old, black Samsonite briefcase once carried by his father, Harold Jones, christened his first days as a prosecutor.

"It was a good luck charm," he said. "It wasn't big enough to carry much in it, but it gave me that sense of pride."

Years down the road, Mr. Jones, 39, said his father's impact would also play a role in his becoming the first black state solicitor in Richmond County.

The youngest and only son of six children, Mr. Jones was born in Hawaii, and his military family moved to Augusta when he was 5.

"My father was retired military and worked in communications," he said. "He just had a tremendous work ethic. I don't think he ever took a day off."

The elder Jones expected the same discipline and hard work from his five daughters and Mr. Jones.

When not working hard, the family participated in a weekly ritual that would influence his interest in public policy and history. They would gather every Sunday for 60 Minutes, he said.

"In those days, you only had so many channels, so we would watch it religiously," Mr. Jones said. "That got me into politics."

The family also owned a copy of Four Days , which chronicled the last days of President John F. Kennedy's life. By high school, it was clear that Mr. Jones would pursue a career in political science. He won the Advanced Placement Award in European History at Glenn Hills High School. He graduated from Glenn Hills and left home to study political science at South Carolina State University in Orangeburg.

As a freshman, he would learn an important lesson that would help him in law school at North Carolina Central University. A mentor scolded him after he wrote an ambitious but poorly supported paper on affirmative action.

"I drove home after that. I didn't want to come back," he said. "I realized afterward that if you're going to have an argument, make sure you have facts to back it up."

After graduating from North Carolina Central, Mr. Jones began working in private practice. In 1997, he won a position as a prosecutor in the State Solicitor's Office. The office primarily handles traffic tickets, DUI, domestic violence and shoplifting cases.

He was the first black prosecutor in the office and worked hard to increase that number. He also worked to expedite the process of arraignment to jury trial.

"That really helps the domestic violence victims when their cases are handled within 60 days rather than six to nine months," he said.

Since 2008 his office has had 36 jury trials with guilty verdicts in 29 cases.

He entered the office wanting to accomplish specific goals, one of them, advancing to state solicitor. Now that he has accomplished that goal, he hopes to accomplish others.

"I'd like to get into a position of policy," he said. "Economic development and education are important."

Being from the area has helped him as a prosecutor, and it will benefit him as he pursues other political roles, he said.

"I'm from here, so I'm connected with people I can relate to where they come from," he said. "It's important to have that connection."

Reach Stephanie Toone at (706) 823-3215 or stephanie.toone@augustachronicle.com.

HAROLD V. JONES II

AGE: 39

HOMETOWN: Augusta

PHILANTHROPY: NAACP member, Richmond/Burke Youth Council, Arts Council, Harold V. Jones Social Studies Award, given to Glenn Hills seniors with the highest average in social studies who plan to pursue political science

FAMILY: fiancée, parents and five sisters

OCCUPATION: State solicitor

QUOTE: "People may not like what I do, but they think they're being treated fairly. They may not like the outcome, but they can respect that."