METRO WEEKLY: How important do you think providing oversight is to performing your job as Councilmember, and what will your philosophy be when holding government agencies accountable for policy or spending decisions?
Eric Jones (I, At-Large): I believe that one of the key jobs of a legislator is to provide oversight of the Executive Branch of government and hold them responsible for ensuring that each and every resident gets a real return on their investment in our local government. As a legislator, I will demand that we have strategies and plans in place for each and every agency and be a stickler about asking the tough questions to ensure that goals and objectives are met — and if not, that we have a justifiable reason for it not to happen.
MW: The Council is often seen as fluctuating between two extremes: having an overly cozy or overly antagonistic relationship with the mayor. How can you assure voters that you will be an independent voice on the Council, and not beholden to either the mayor, other councilmembers or your political party?
Jones: As a legislator I will be beholden to the constituents of the District of Columbia, not a selected group of donors, political players or elected officials. Every decision I make will be based on the input of all parties involved and what I feel is best based on the information I have received. This, in my opinion, is central to servant leadership and that is why I’m running to be on the Council, because I feel that we have gotten away from a true representative democracy in our great city.
MW: Please share your views on how best to address LGBT homelessness, not only for youth, but for adults, families, and senior citizens. What are your proposals for ensuring District shelters are adhering to the nondiscrimination protections in the D.C. Human Rights Act?
Jones: I believe that the homelessness problem in DC needs to be addressed on a much larger scale. For far too long we have either turned a blind eye to the issue or paid attention only when there is a problem. I believe that we need to put a greater effort into dealing with housing and the basic skills needed to allow an individual to be a productive member of society. This includes pushing legislation and working to create workforce and affordable housing, as well as temporary shelter for those who have fallen on hard times. In addition, I feel that we must work hard to support those who are facing particular issues based on race, sexual orientation and mental health issues. We have to provide the wrap around services needed to help them not only get back on the right track, but the support needed to help them stay there.
MW: What specific recommendations do you have to decrease unemployment among the District’s transgender community and enforce existing laws relating to employment discrimination, both by D.C. government and private businesses?
Jones: Employment discrimination is an issue on many fronts, and I won’t stand for discrimination at any level. I feel that we first must put more resources in our Office of Human Rights. Secondly, I am in favor of working to provide additional resources for targeted communities/populations such as the GLBT community. We all know that one of the best ways to support members of a community is to empower those in the community to create their own paths to success, and I think that this is one of the best ways to work with the community to get greater results.
MW: Why should the LGBT community vote for you?
Jones: I have always been an advocate for equal rights for everyone and continue to work hard to fight for fairness and equality. As a member of the DC City Council I will work to ensure that everyone has the opportunity to enjoy the best of what DC has to offer and that our government works for us and with us to improve our lives.
For more information on Eric Jones’s campaign, visit ericjones2014.com.
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