Charlena Jones is running as a candidate for Virginia State Delegate in our 100th District. The Mirror has known Ms. Jones for many years, going back to when her wonderful daughter Courtney worked as an actor, dancer, and singer in our plays at the Palace Theatre. We were excited to be able to sit down with her and find out more about her candidacy, and just why she wanted to take the next step of being our representative in the 100th District. Find out more at her website here.
MIRROR: What inspired you to run for Virginia State Delegate, and what qualifications and experience do you bring to this position?
JONES: I bring a diverse range of experience to the Delegate position; public office, education, counseling, executive leadership, planning, and development. To learn more visit Jones4delgate.com.
Over two decades I have served in roles where I have witnessed and helped to solve various community challenges. In the process of helping to find solutions to those most pressing needs, it became evident that many challenges could be solved from a legislative position.
I decided to run for member of the House of Delegates to be the voice of the people.
MIRROR: Virginia and Northampton face various challenges in areas such as healthcare, education, and transportation. What are your top priorities, and how do you plan to address these issues?
JONES: My district is unique, consisting of rural and urban localities. As a school board member, the challenge I see daily is in education. Education challenges have increased post-COVID-19. Other priorities are living wages, workforce housing, clean air and water, and reproductive access. Integrating urgent care access in Northampton County is also a priority.
I plan to address these issues by continuing to hear the voices of constituents and working with subject experts to create effective solutions.
MIRROR: Education is a critical issue in Northampton and for all of Virginia. What is your vision for improving the state’s education system, from early childhood education to higher education?
JONES: My vision for improving the state’s education systems is to help ensure equity in education, implementing Joint Legislative Audit and Review Committee (JLARC) recommendations regarding governance and budget, and implementing initiatives that support teacher shortage.
MIRROR: Healthcare access and affordability are significant concerns for many folks on the Shore. How do you plan to ensure access to quality healthcare and manage healthcare costs?
JONES: Northampton County residents travel 30-plus miles for emergency care. Expanding emergency healthcare access to Northampton County residents is paramount. I believe the infrastructure is here. Engaging in the necessary discussions and partnerships is likely the next step.
MIRROR: Virginia’s economy is diverse but the Shore is rural, and we face different challenges. How will you balance the needs of urban folks with rural constituents in our district?
JONES: Virginia’s economy is diverse and because the Shore is rural it’s going to require balance and equity in action. This could look like adding Northampton and Accomack counties to the Cost of Competing Adjustment (COCA) legislature. And ensuring urban areas receive the support they need to overcome their specific challenges.
MIRROR: How will you engage with your constituents to gather input and inform them about legislative decisions and policy changes? Constituent input is important.
JONES: I would take advantage of quarterly town halls to gather input and inform them about legislative decisions and policy changes through a quarterly newsletter.
MIRROR: How do you plan to collaborate with other members of the Virginia General Assembly, regardless of party affiliation, to achieve bipartisan solutions for the benefit of Virginia, and in particular, Northampton County?
JONES: Developing bipartisan solutions for the benefit of Virginians is key. My goal is to collaborate with other members with a teamwork approach, transparency, and mutuality, all while keeping the needs of those I represent at the forefront.
MIRROR: Finally, how would you describe your overall approach to representing your constituents and making decisions on their behalf if elected?
JONES: My overall approach to representing my constituents and making decisions on their behalf is to give them opportunities to share their concerns, receive their desired outcomes, and work with pertinent experts to work towards a solution that yields a positive impact.