In the twilight of his second and final term in office, Richmond Mayor Dwight C. Jones oversaw a number of ambitious initiatives this year geared toward moving the city forward.
Among his most visible accomplishments: leading efforts to prepare the River City for the return of the UCI Road World Championships to the United States for the first time in 29 years.
Organizers said the sprawling nine-day event in September had a spectator count of about 645,000 people, which topped earlier estimates by nearly 200,000.
“Hundreds of thousands of spectators have enjoyed our city over this time, and millions have viewed Richmond from around the world in over 150 countries," Jones said at the close of the event. "I couldn’t be more proud of our city at this time. I hope we can harness this momentum in a way that continues to move the region forward.”
That momentum will build on investments Jones' administration has made in the city's first Office of Community Wealth Building, an outgrowth of the Anti-Poverty Commission he created in March 2011.
People close to Jones say the mission of combating poverty in Richmond, which is largely concentrated in the East End, is his top priority personally and professionally.
Jones serves as senior pastor of First Baptist Church of South Richmond. The former state delegate and Richmond School Board chairman was first elected as Richmond's second at-large mayor in 2008. He served as state Democratic Party chairman from March 2014 to March 2015.
His ongoing initiatives include boosting workforce development; pursuing economic development to increase job opportunities and diversify the city's tax base; strengthening the city's public school system; and increasing affordable housing stock.
"This is a very resilient area. We can face difficulties and challenges, but we will pull together and get things done when it comes right down to it," Jones said. "Richmond's resurgence is reflective of that resilient spirit."
IN HIS WORDS
A small moment in life with a big impact
It was my visit to the Door of No Return on Goree Island in Africa. The Door of No Return is a memorial to the Atlantic slave trade. This crystallized the stories I had heard and read about. This visit gave my life perspective. I believe every African-American should visit the Door of No Return.
Alternate profession or course of study
Poverty law, because I have come in contact with so many who have been excluded because of a lack of resources.
"The Purpose Driven Life," by Rick Warren. It helped me to reflect on and answer some important questions - Who am I? Why am I here? And what will my legacy be?
Wyatt Walker. Dr. Walker has mastered the marriage of social justice, community building and church.
Something you'd like to do
Visit all seven continents. I have been blessed to visit four.
Something that might surprise others
I am an introvert, even though I have spent the better part of my adult life as a public servant.
I have many accomplishments of which I am proud, but most recently it is bringing the UCI Worlds to the city of Richmond. I am also very proud of my efforts to elevate the discussion about poverty mitigation in the city. Events like the Worlds and other economically impactful undertakings ultimately come back to my goal of expanding the tax base and providing opportunity for all.
DWIGHT C. JONES
Position: Richmond mayor
Born/hometown: Feb. 3, 1948; Philadelphia
College: Virginia Union University (bachelor's degree, master's in divinity), United Theological Seminary (doctorate)
Family: children Dwight, Derik and Nichole