LC Jones is seeking election to Martinsville City Council in the November election, running on his motto of “integrity, transparency, and legitimacy.”
Jones, 41, said one of the biggest issues Martinsville is facing right now is the “trifecta” of homelessness, mental health, and substance abuse.
“We have to, especially in the city, we have to figure out a place for our homeless to go. We’re approaching wintertime, there are a lot of homeless out there, and they’re not going to really have anywhere to go,” he said.
In his capacity as an officer with the Martinsville Police Department, Jones said he has oftentimes had to send homeless people out of the city to find shelter, because Martinsville does not have one. Many of the homeless in the area also have mental health issues, and may sometimes turn to drugs or alcohol.
“At the same time, while we’re working on the issue, we also need to be focusing on and addressing the mental health, because this all runs together. A lot of the homeless people … have mental health issues. They also have drug issues and they’ve gotten into this slump in their life,” he said.
He said a group is needed in the city to go out into the community, figure out who and where the homeless are, and help them get resources and services.
Another of Jones’ concerns is the city’s issue with communication, both when communicating with residents and giving them an avenue to respond. Jones said he has a few ideas to address this concern.
“An idea that I had, which they utilize it at the schools,” is a call system “that’s kind of with an automated machine. Whatever information that they want to distribute, they put it on the automated machine, and it goes out to everybody at the same time,” he said.
He also mentioned implementing a suggestions box on the city’s website for residents to report issues and city officials to post updates.
The “elephant in the room,” however, is reversion, Jones said. While he is against reversion, he also “understands that it is not an easy fix. It’s not at the snap of a finger fix.
“When I say I would like to stop the reversion, it means that I want to work with the Henry County Board of Supervisors, I want to bring the Martinsville School Board back to the table, along with the Henry County School Board back to the table, and I would like for us to work this thing out together in stopping this reversion,” he said, adding that it is important to rebuild relationships with the county and business partners to solve Martinsville’s issues and develop contingency plans.
Jones’ vision is for the city to continue to grow, but in a way that gives everyone equal opportunity. He noted investments in youngsters with more Career and Technical Education programs in the schools, and believes investments in youth will reap dividends.
“I think that we are definitely growing right now at this point. Enrollment at the schools is up, so that tells me we have people moving to Martinsville,” he said.
However, Jones said the growth that Uptown is seeing is not in line with that in the rest of the city.
“I think it’s great that we have so many businesses Uptown, but I think our Uptown is starting to outgrow the surrounding community, especially once you cross Fayette” Street. “From the Main Street east side of Uptown, you cross over to Fayette and start heading west, and you start seeing the difference,” he said.
“I think that’s going to have an effect when we try to encourage people to move here and they like Uptown, but they start getting into the surrounding areas and they don’t see a neighborhood that they want to live in,” Jones said, and emphasized the importance of making small steps, cleaning up the community, and getting the community involved in the progress.
“That’s the vision altogether is bringing us all together, repairing relationships, getting people civically involved, and approaching these things tactfully at small levels. Just taking very small bites of it ultimately makes the bigger change,” Jones said.
While there is much to do, Jones also is proud of Martinsville.
“We have a lot of new businesses Uptown, and I think that is great because when I have family member who comes in from out of town, now they have restaurants that they can go Uptown. You have Uptown Pinball if you want to take the kids somewhere, and these are places that you can park Uptown and just walk to wherever you need to go,” he said.
Jones is especially proud of the hard work and big results the school system has produced despite the challenges of COVID.
“They’re fully accredited. Enrollment is up across the board. They had some of the highest test scores in the state, and this is all coming off of the year of COVID that we dealt with and the students having to rebound,” he said.
Jones encourages residents to carefully consider those seeking a seat on council, ask questions, and do research.
“It’s probably a little easier to do a little homework on” the two incumbents seeking reelection, “because they’ve been on the council for so long,” he said of Jennifer Bowles and Danny Turner. “But I think that within itself, you see that they’ve been on the council for so long that we’re standing on the edge of a reversion — of reverting back to a town. That kind of shows the quality of work that they have done,” he said, adding that he welcomes residents’ questions and tries to ensure all an opportunity to get to know him as a person and a candidate.
“Don’t vote for me because I’m Black, don’t vote for me because I’m a police officer. Talk to me, learn about me, ask any question. And you can ask me anything: religious questions, personal questions. Get to know me as an individual,” Jones said.
And the three pillars of his campaign also are his motto. Each are taken seriously, he said.
For integrity, “I try to carry myself, whether I’m in uniform or not, I always carry myself and remember that I have Martinsville on my chest. And it’s not just a badge, it’s a community.”
Transparency is something for the city to aspire to, he said, and addressed legitimacy.
“Showing, over a period of time, that a person can be trusted. I’m going to put the city and the citizens’ best interests before even my own,” Jones said. “I’m going to do what right for them and leave the decision, ultimately, up to the majority of the citizens rather than me making a snap judgment decision that’s going to affect them and benefit myself.”
Jones’ currently serves as the School Resource Officer (SRO) in Martinsville Middle School. He has a bachelor’s degree in Criminal Justice from Liberty University. The father of an 11-year-old son, Jones spends his free time reading, working out, traveling, and spending time with kids in the community, be it through coaching or giving the rides to events.