Jones to target apathetic Elis and increase volunteer efforts

In the midst of musical stylings by cellist Kevin Olusola ’10 and the Shades a cappella group, Mike Jones ’11 on Thursday laid out goals for his recently announced campaign for Ward 1 alderman.

In a speech at his campaign launch event, Jones outlined his plan to tackle chronic homelessness, youth health education and Yale student apathy to a crowd of about 30 people, mostly Yale students, in the Davenport common room. Jones, who announced his plan to run for the Board of Aldermen last week, also introduced his tightly organized nine-person campaign staff, composed entirely of Elis.

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Paul Needham
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In his address, Jones described the ways in which his high school experiences shaped his plans for his tenure on the Board of Aldermen. By witnessing poverty and teen pregnancy in his high school in North Carolina, as well as during his time tutoring at Wilbur Cross High School here in New Haven, Jones said he became committed to improving the plight of the city’s youth.

“It’s not okay to tell a child in poverty — or a child with a child himself — to lift himself up by his bootstraps,” Jones said.

After a short speech by campaign manager Matthew Ellison ’10, Zachary Marks ’09 introduced Jones, his fellow Saybrugian.

“I’m sort of playing the Michelle Obama role, though we’re not really married,” Marks joked, before describing Jones’ commitment to involving fellow students in the political process.

Jones was always anxious to engage other students in political dialogue, Marks said, even while Marks and Jones were working on opposing campaigns for Democratic presidential nominees. (Marks was for Barack Obama, while Jones supported Hillary Clinton LAW ’73.) Marks said he expects Jones to continue bringing Yale students to the political table and encouraging them to become involved in New Haven issues.

Jones’ communications director, Chris Magoon ’12, said their campaign will work to appeal to “the better side of people” within the Yale community, coaxing more Yalies to focus on problems outside of Yale’s perimeter. Magoon said Jones plans to increase student involvement in citywide affairs by working within Yale’s existing organizational framework.

For example, Magoon said, the Jones campaign will look to Yale’s Hunger and Homelessness Action Project to provide guidance on what Yale can do to alleviate homelessness in New Haven. Similarly, Jones will work with Community Health Educators to establish better sex education programs in New Haven Public Schools, Magoon said.

“We’re really going to make sure that we rely on the expertise student leaders involved with these issues,” Magoon said.

Since he announced his candidacy last week, Jones has begun to reach out to various city officials and aldermen. Jones has made a visit to City Hall, Magoon said, and Ellison confirmed that Jones has communicated with Ward 22 Alderman Greg Morehead. Ward 2 Alderwoman Gina Calder said she, too, had been contacted by Jones, and Democratic Town Committee Chair Susan Voight was among the few non-students in attendance in Davenport on Thursday night.

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