NEWPORT NEWS — Residents of Newport News will begin casting ballots to select a new city mayor this Friday.
Although Election Day is Nov. 8, early in-person voting starts at the end of the week.
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City Council members Saundra Cherry, David Jenkins and Tina Vick — along with businessman and Marine Corps veteran Phillip Jones — are all vying for the mayor’s seat. Incumbent Mayor McKinley Price opted not to seek a fourth term.
Jones is outpacing his opponents in fundraising by an overwhelming margin, according to the Virginia Public Access Project, which tracks campaign donations. As of Aug. 31, Jones had raised $184,846, Cherry $23,513, Vick $20,205 and Jenkins $18,467, according to VPAP.
Jones, 33, would be the youngest African-American mayor in Newport News if elected. He served for six years in the Marine Corps on active duty and four years on reserve and then did three years of graduate school at Harvard. He’s been on the city’s planning commission for two years.
Jones’ top priority is fully funding and accrediting the city’s schools. He said it’s crucial to invest in the city’s children and ensure they are well equipped to enter a changing economy.
“Education helped me,” Jones said. “Education made me into who I am. And I want the same opportunity for all members of our community.”
His second most significant priority would be public safety, which includes investing money in mental health programs and addressing gun violence plaguing the region. He also wants competitive pay for law enforcement and funding of the fire department so it has the vehicles and equipment necessary to address the entire city.
He also wants to help small businesses grow and leverage Christopher Newport University and Jefferson Lab to support the development of emerging technology and life science businesses.
Jones described Newport News as “asset strong” but “strategy poor” and feels a lack of unity among the various wards of the city. As mayor, he hopes to bring the city together. He said the city needs “fresh, strong, bold leadership to take us into the future, and someone that will unify all parts of the city.”
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