Fourth District Councilman Curtis Jones Jr. announced his campaign for re-election yesterday at the Crowne Plaza Hotel on City Avenue in Wynnefield.
Nearly two hundred people attended the event, which was emceed by state Sen. Vincent Hughes (D. Phila.), and featured speeches from more than a dozen public officials from across the city.
Mayor Michael Nutter, U.S. Rep. Chaka Fattah (D., Pa.), and state Rep. Dwight Evans (D., Phila.), and several city council members took the stage.
So far, Jones is the only declared candidate in the Fourth District’s Democratic primary, which will be held in May. The district covers Roxborough, Manayunk and East Falls, in addition to large chunks of West Philadelphia.
In 2007, Jones won his party’s endorsement with 35 percent of the vote, less than 500 votes more than his closest challenger.
He defeated both the incumbent Carol Campbell, who took over when Nutter began his mayoral campaign, and East Falls real estate lawyer Matthew McClure.
Campbell died in 2008 and McClure has indicated that he will not run again.
Randall Miller, a history professor at St. Joseph’s University, speculates that Jones will run unopposed in the primary and says it’s an indication of how successful his first term has been.
“The measure of success for a first-termer is getting reelected,” Miller said. “He’s done better than survive;he’s cleared the field.”
The atmosphere in the room was festive, with Jones being introduced by a youth marching band chanting “Who you with? Curtis Jones!”
After the band’s 10-minute performance, Jones spoke with both humility and pride, and above all, with the confidence of an unopposed incumbent.
Summing up his second-term ambitions, he said:
“In the real world, where people have to earn their pay, every now and then they have to go before their employer to be evaluated, to state their case as to why they should be maintained and employed. For elected officials, it’s election day.
“Just like any other employee I go before my employers, which are the voters, and ask to be retained.”
From “poor” to politics
In the presence of his own parents and children, he reminded the audience of his origins, at one point declaring that his past term’s accomplishments were “not bad for a poor boy from West Philly.”
Mayor Michael Nutter, who previously held Jones’ position, spoke positively of his successor, calling him “very thoughtful, very focused, knows what this district is about and continues to learn it each and every day.”
From 1987, until he became councilman in 2007, Curtis Jones Jr. served as president and CEO for the Philadelphia Commercial Development Corp., a private company that works to provide technical and financial assistance to city businesses.
Fattah, a long-time friend of Jones’, spoke to the audience about his memories from Overbrook High School, where they first met, and together began their political careers.
Fattah managed Jones’ failed campaign to become a Democratic National Committee delegate at the age of 18 and has remained his colleague and someone who Jones refers to as, “my political family, my DNA”.
Establishing second term goals
Jones said his second-term goals include infrastructure repair, rehabilitating ex-convicts, improving community engagement with police, and exporting Philadelphia culture abroad.
He calls this last approach “thinking local but acting global.”
“We produce the absolute best fishing rods in the world… we need to export them all over the world! Our water ice should taste the taste buds in China!”
Hughes said Jones’ business experience helped make him effective as a freshman councilman.
“He’s done the work in his other positions before he came to council,” Hughes said. “He was proactive with going out and dealing with issues, dealing with problems. He wasn’t just a bureaucrat who kind of waited for stuff to come to him.”
Adam Carangi, president of East Falls Community Council from 2007 to 2010, agreed that Jones is proactive.
“Before he was even sworn in, he was up and running and making a point of meeting with the people of East Falls,” adding that he has worked hard at “growing his relationship in the community.”
According to the nonpartisan election monitoring group Committee of Seventy, Jones raised $35,638 in campaign funds in the latest filing period ending in late December. The first day to circulate and file nomination petitions for candidates in the May primary is Feb. 15.