Why do people run for elected office?
“Everyone always asks the same question.” said Jones as I talked to him on Wednesday. “We ask ourselves this question too, and I can literally pinpoint when it started, and what changed my life to where I left a corporate job and started to do this.” Jones is discussing his campaign, he is currently running for the Tuckahoe seat on the Henrico Board of Supervisors. This is an important race that could flip the majority on the Board from Republican to Democrat.
As for the moment Jones knew he wanted to do more, it wasn’t long after the day he was diagnosed with multiple Sclerosis at 27-years-old. “When you’re diagnosed with a chronic illness at 27, when you think your life is going one way and you have never been sick in your life, it changes the way you think.” he said.
“I had to learn how to fight for myself”
After seeing his wife and the rest of his family join him in this fight against a chronic illness without hesitation, he realized he had to do more for the community. “That’s when I got involved with advocacy and the MS society.” said Jones. “My journey into politics is more about fighting for folks like me. A lot of people with chronic illness and disabilities feel like they don’t have a voice.”
Jones unveiled his signs this week that are a unique color not often seen in campaigns – orange. Orange is the specific color used to show support for multiple Sclerosis
“I wanted to make my signs orange because no matter the outcome in November, I wanted to remind myself everyday that that’s why I am running. I am running to be an advocate, not for myself and not for special interests. I also wanted to honor my friends that have MS as well – and I wanted this to be a symbol to show them that yes, you might have a chronic illness, yes things might seem like they are stacked against you, but you can still go out and be not only a productive member of society, but a leader in society. I want them to feel that nothing can stop them.”
What is important to the people of Henrico?
Jones told me that he wants to work on ensuring that schools in Henrico are receiving adequate funding for the public schools. “Education funding has been stagnant since the great recession.”
He also noted that he wants to make sure that development in Henrico is implemented in the smartest way that won’t have negative effects on the the residents already living in the area. “Working with developers to figure out how we can continue to develop without but not overwhelm the western part of the county because there has been so much construction already, we have to make sure that we have the infrastructure. We have to be champions for growth across the county as well.”
Jones said a topic that he is hearing frequently at doors is the desire for more sidewalks and bike paths along with easier access to GRTC bus routes. He noted that this is a platform that Danny Plaugher ran on in the past and failed, but it seems that the residents in his district have started to come around to the idea.
Marques Jones is motivated by his own battle with chronic illness to move forward and help other members of the community with their battles and show them that anything is possible.