PHOTO: Jon Jones for Atlanta City Council
Twenty-six-year-old economist Jonathan W. Jones is running for the Atlanta City Council District 5 seat and hopes to implement what he describes as "direct democracy"—allowing constituents to directly vote on pending legislation via smartphone or computer.
"I would send a tremendous message to have a black gay man, the first, elected to the Atlanta City Council in the city ...," Jones said. Atlanta is considered a black gay mecca and, according to U.S. Census figures, has a high population of black and gay lesbian couples.
Jones is one of three openly gay people running for District 5 held by incumbent Natalyn Archibong. Matt Rinker, who has been endorsed by the Log Cabin Republicans, announced earlier this year and lesbian Christine Enterkin, who was interviewed by Project Q Atlanta last week, are also running as openly gay.
Alex Wan, seeking his second term as the District 6 representative, was the first openly gay man elected to the council. Lesbians have served on the council, including Cathy Woolard, who was president of the council, and Anne Fauver, who also represented District 6....
Jones said he is seeking endorsements from the Democratic Party of Georgia, Georgia Equality and also the Evolution Project, a division of AID Atlanta that serves young gay black men.
Jones initially qualified to run for District 2 but now lives in District 5 after last year's redistricting.
He received a business degree from Rutgers University, studied graduate public policy at UCLA and international relations at Oxford.
Jones first moved to Atlanta in 2010. The candidate says that he first became fascinated with direct democracy when he studied public policy at UCLA, reports Creative Loafing.
"How could this be applied to a real government?" he says. "Technology would have to be a crucial part of that. Fundamental to a direct democracy is getting everyone to put their ideas [together] and vote on what they want to see happen."
[In July 2012], Jones started laying the groundwork for his campaign. The concept prompted Jones to develop the Atlanta Direct Democracy Interface, a website that he says combines elements of Wikipedia and Reddit. If elected, he says, constituents would use the platform to vote on city proposals as well as submit their ownwhen ideas. The approach, he says, would allow for city government to become more transparent, boost voter participation, and even curb lobbyist influence. He thinks citizens have "reached a boiling point" with how elected officials make decisions.
Atlanta has never elected a Black openly gay man to public office despite its reputation as a "Black gay mecca." State Rep. Rashad Taylor became the state's first openly gay male legislator when was outed in 2011. Taylor lost his re-election bid his Atlanta district was redrawn in 2012. Atlanta's Simone Bell made history in 2009 when she became the nation's first Black openly lesbian state legislator. Atlanta has also elected another Black lesbian, Keisha Waites, to the state legislature. In 1999, Kecia Cunningham was elected Decatur City Commissioner and became the first Black openly gay elected official in Georgia.
Jones does not have an official platform because he wants to be a delegate of the people's vote. He also describes himself as an "Independent" and a "staunch fiscal conservative."
The election is November 5.