Jones, 44, is the third candidate to announce he’s seeking the Georgia Senate District 22 seat held by Hardie Davis, who is resigning to run for mayor of Augusta.
“I don’t really get tired of it at all,” Jones said. “I loved when I was solicitor, being in public service. I just want that opportunity again.”
Jones became Augusta’s first black solicitor general when he was elected in November 2004 with more than 59 percent of the votes. He ran unopposed in 2008, but resigned the next year to compete with Davis for the Senate seat, left open at the resignation of Ed Tarver, now a U.S. attorney.
Two other attempts – an unsuccessful House run in 2002 and a 2012 loss to Marion Williams to represent Super District 9 on the Augusta Commission – left the Augusta lawyer undaunted.
“I’ve been involved in the community, want to be involved in the community and always want to do things to better Augusta,” he said.
Key points in his platform are changing the way Georgia funds education and developing partnerships with community and for-profit colleges to enhance economic development, said Jones, who has taught at Strayer University, Georgia Military College, Paine College and the University of Phoenix.
A bipartisan effort to change the uniform formula for funding public schools to target those in greatest need, such as Richmond County schools, is already growing in Atlanta, Jones said.
Partnerships he has seen used in other states recruit the private colleges to tailor educational programs to meet a specific need, such as that of a large area employer, he said.
“You’re building a bridge; you’re asking companies to say what type of workforce you are looking for,” Jones said.
“Once again, it’s something for the whole state to look at; that’s real economic development.”
Now with Charles Lyons and Randolph Frails as part of the three-lawyer team that counsels Sheriff Richard Roundtree, Jones said he also hopes to decriminalize nonviolent, minor offenses to reduce the burden on the state’s penal system.
He favors reforms sought by other Georgia legislators that limit the public’s access to jail mug shots – for reasons that include sparing the wrongfully accused from embarrassment to the basic right of defendants to a fair trial.
“It (often) brings notoriety to a case that just doesn’t deserve it” and “can impact a jury” that has already seen an unflattering mug shot in one of the area’s tabloids, he said.
“When they put that picture in and the person sees a mug shot, it changes things,” Jones said.
On a local level, Jones said he shares the growing bipartisan sentiment that constructing large public venues such as stadiums and coliseums doesn’t necessarily help the community that builds them. One of his two opponents, Mayor Pro Tem Corey Johnson, is pushing to include a $100 million coliseum complex in the new special purpose local option sales tax package to attract large events to Augusta.
“It’s time that we, not only in Augusta, but as a state get away from that,” he said. “None of that will transfer to improving anybody’s lives.”
Even service workers who obtain jobs at the facilities will live elsewhere if a city is unsafe and education opportunities are poor, he said.
“We can’t look to entertainment to be a true economic engine.”
Besides Johnson, Augusta real estate agent Elmyria Chivers is running for the Senate seat.
With no announced Republican candidates, the election likely will be decided in the general primary May 20, when Augusta also will pick a mayor and vote on the latest sales tax referendum.