By Ms. June
NASHVILLE, TN — With another election around the corner that can change the political landscape of Nashville, Pastor Howard E. Jones confidently proclaims he is not intimidated by the footprints left behind by the retiring State Senator Thelma Harper but inspired, honored and eager. Pastor Jones is no stranger to Nashville as he is a native, a graduate of Tennessee State University (TSU), and currently serves as the senior pastor at Fairfield Missionary Baptist Church in Goodlettsville, TN. It is duly noted that prior to Senator Thelma Harper holding this position as the Senate representative for the 19th District, her predecessor was Avon Williams. who was the first African American Democrat elected in the newly configured district in the sixties.
As the community gains further insight into his leadership platform, it is key to understand that Pastor Jones’ take on education being the problem solver for many issues is cemented by his long tenure within the Metro Nashville Public School System. Pastor Jones, confidently offers education as the strategy for crime reduction when presenting the statistics of the number of those incarcerated per zip code based upon the schools they from which they originate. In other words, according to Pastor Jones, there is a significant number of males who end up in prison from the 37208 zip code, (much of North Nashville) based on published reports. He said, “It is our responsibility as leaders, parents, educators and faith-based officials to stop this school to prison pipeline.”
In order to weave economic development and education together in the community Jones realistically shared his viewpoint that the community must have common sense and teach more and test less. Jones stated, “Back in the day it was nothing to come out of high school with a certification and be work ready; we have to go back to those common sense practices.” When asked for further clarification, he took it to another level and said “We need to step it up and help our students excel academically and that middle school students should take high school courses, high schoolers should get college credits and parents need to help set high educational standards.” He of course added that parents must bear some responsibility and be taught how to help their children study. Pastor Jones has a firm belief that the schools belong to the community and programs cost money and under his leadership, District 19’s educational initiatives will be funded by being fiscally responsible by managing the funds they have and under no circumstance will they appear to be a program begging for funds like a welfare or EBT program.
Pastor Jones is well aware of the blighted areas in District 19 and the enriched areas such as the Gulch but as a leader, he will seek to develop less prominent areas going in the direction of Antioch and strategically look at areas between 18th and Clarksville Highway. He said, “We will court economic development in the blighted areas and seek economic development for all of us.” Nashville is the “It City” and while the Predators are winning and the Titans are doing well, he firmly stated, “As an example, if Metro Development Housing Authority (MDHA) wanted to give millions of dollars to HCA for furniture instead of spending that money on housing, I would oppose it.” Jones further went on to say, “As a leader of the 19th District, I really want to help people that need affordable housing and I want to develop affordable housing in this great city.”
Affordable housing is an issue that will not be resolved overnight or go away soon but Pastor Jones has a multi-tiered approach that begins in the community to help with job placement. His approach starts with helping students become job ready out of high school, to community programs for recently released criminals that also includes criminal justice reform. Pastor Jones offered a testament of success with this approach by stating, “We remodeled Kingdom Cafe & Grill on Jefferson Street, formerly Harpers, and the work was done by formerly incarcerated citizens, some rehabilitated citizens have jobs there now and they have hope.” Pastor Jones said, “There are plans that Kingdom Cafe & Grill will soon be expanded to include a courtyard, and it will eventually have housing.”
Lastly, with the rising number of shootings in Nashville as a whole, Pastor Jones made it clear that an oversight commission is necessary and more community policing is obviously needed. He stated, “People are fearful and people are afraid and there needs to be more efforts to bridge the gaps between the police and the community.” He later stated, “He supports the amendment to bear arms but common sense comes with that responsibility.” Pastor Jones wants the community to know he will be knocking on every door trying to get people to vote, he is committed to keeping District 19 great and although he is new to the political game he is the Nashville son that can, and will lead with success.