Class of 2020 Endorsed Candidate: Jo’el Thomas-Jones
Jo’el Thomas-Jones has served the Dayton community for 25 years, with expertise in community planning and policy analysis. Deeply committed to Dayton, she has a passion to use politics as a catalyst for change in the community and to ensure women’s rights are human rights. If elected, Jo’el will continue to fight for issues most pertinent to Dayton communities including, education, infrastructure, stricter gun control, workforce development, and affordable housing.
Meet the Candidate: Jo’el Thomas-Jones
1) In your interview with the Endorsement Committee, you shared a personal life experience that led you to the decision to run for office. Can you tell our members a little bit about your journey to filing as a candidate?
As the co-founder of an Ohio Non-profit entitled Neighborhoods Over Politics, in addition to the community initiatives that I helped to gain momentum, it became very apparent to me, quickly that I had reached my limit of begging for change. The Ohio Statehouse is the hot seat of activities that impacts all Ohioan’s everyday lives. I am of the opinion that the issues impacting the 39th district needs a champion who understands the complexity and dynamics of how policy either works to improve people’s lives or makes it more difficult for them to go about their daily lives. The journey to file for candidacy for the office of State Representative for the 39th district was not an easy decision, but a necessary decision. It is no small feat to avail oneself publicly and ask for their trust to work on their behalf. This journey is not easy, but it is necessary.
2) Many of you cited a family member whose strength was an inspiration to you. Tell our members about a friend or family member who inspired you to become a leader.
As a child, I have vivid memories of being alongside my grandmother. My grandmother migrated from the deep south with a 6th-grade education and a dream. She and my grandfather heard there were opportunities up north, that would allow them to obtain work with dignity, that did not involve picking cotton, and cleaning people’s houses. That can-do spirit was the norm in my family, and soon her advocacy, political work included one of her eleven grandchildren, me. I remember the fight that taught me about the political process, moreover how the rich and powerful could kill a dream, and 40 years of hard work with the stroke of a pen. That pen gave Waste Management permission to begin construction of a landfill directly behind my grandmother’s home. Although General Motors and Waste Management won the fight, the battle belongs to Helen V. Horton, a black woman from the south, who migrated to the north, purchased a home, opened two businesses, completed her GED, then completed her Bachelor’s degree all because she believed in the American dream, in spite of the dreadful fact that America, was still hesitant to believe in her. My desire to serve, is rooted in my ancestors, who never quit, could not accept the word no, and understood that people over politics is one of the foundational norms, America was built upon.
3) Some of you are military veterans, some businesspeople, some professionals, some homemakers. How did one of these jobs shape who you are as a person and a leader?
My professional and community service experience is rooted in aiding everyday citizens maneuver through systems designed to disenfranchise, and or ignore those on the fringe. It is the experiences and relationships built with families and communities that are the energy for my desire to run and win political office. Public policy is the process whereby, elected officials and leaders of the business community decide how others will live. Its time that people and communities who have been either intentionally or unintentionally disenfranchised by policies that continue to leave more and more behind have a champion who is not afraid of the fight.
4) The Matriots PAC has a Big Hairy Audacious Goal to see 50% of all elected offices in Ohio held by women by 2028. What is your vision for Ohio in 2028?
I agree with the Matriots vision. My endorsement is a reflection of that objective. In order for a nation to be it’s absolute best, it must be intentional about being inclusive of all its populate. The mission of having more women in office by 2028, should not only be the objective of the Matriots, but of each and every citizen of Ohio.
5) Tip O’Neill famously said that “all politics is local.” What are the top-two issues your community or our state face today?
Perception is reality, so this question can vary greatly depending upon a person’s perception, but from my vantage point, given the work I’ve done, and the issues that are brought to my attention, affordable sustainable housing, and a living wage are the two most important issues, confronting the 39th district. However, these issues do not lessen the severity of other major issues impacting the Miami Valley region as well.
6) Now for fun: Tell us something personal about yourself. It can be a hobby, your favorite food, a funny pet story, something we might not know about you that you would like to share with our members.
A fun fact about me, that many may not know, is that I was the first person to introduce then-Senator Barack Obama to the Dayton region. I was asked by his communication’s department to introduce him to a crowd of over 20,000 people. Even cooler, as they allowed me to write my own speech, and approved it for the event without any objections, and or corrections.