At 20 years of age, Jewell Jones made history when he was sworn in November 2015 as the youngest person to ever sit on the City Council of Inkster, Michigan, a town nestled on the outskirts of Detroit. Jones, who represents the city’s 4th District, is also full-time student at the University of Michigan-Dearborn. A lifelong resident of Inkster, Jones began dabbling in local politics at the age of eight, volunteering at his church and the community at large. Prior to winning the Council seat, Jones worked on political campaigns for Michigan State Sen. David Knezek (D) and Inkster’s Mayor Hilliard Hampton. What started off as a joke with one of the councilmen in his district blossomed into a successful, record-breaking campaign. On top of majoring in political science and finance, Jones is involved with several on-campus organizations– including the Army ROTC, Black Student Union and Student Veterans Association. Jones is committed to changing the demographics and culture of the city’s police department through vetting police recruits more thoroughly. Councilman Jones is passionate about engaging the youth in politics and all aspects of the community in an effort to build a more sustainable community culture for all.
Exclusive Interview With Jewell Jones
AO: For the ones who are unaware who is Jewell Jones?
Jones: Jewell Jones is a 20 year young male from Inkster, MI. He is a Son of God, and a man of motion.
AO: What are your inspirations in life and what keeps you going forward even when facing adversity?
Jones: Everyone inspires me – people have so many ideas and do so many things, and when I connect with them, we both are able to grow and flourish. When faced with adversity, I choose not to entertain it – I just focus on what we can do and keep it moving.
AO: What’s some advice you can give to young African American boys who needs a positive role model in their lives?
Jones: Cultivate strong relationships. Treat people right, and work with your fellow brothers. It is you and I who will ultimately bring about tremendous change in the world we live in – it starts with us.
AO: Why did you choose to become city councilman at such a young age?
Jones: The opportunity presented itself, and after listening to people, both from Inkster and outside of the community (at conferences, etc.), I prayed on it and I believed it was the right time to get involved in a greater capacity. Plus, Inkster needs some life. I think my election to City Council will allow me to encourage unity/ cohesion amongst my neighbors and influence others to get involved, because we can actually change things.
AO: What’s your main improvement area in Inkster Michigan that you plan to focus on?
Jones: I certainly look towards increasing revenue, or better yet, streams of revenue in order to have an umbrella effect on my personal initiatives (Parks and Recreational services, Public Safety, Community/Economic Development) – whose issues stem, greatly, from funding difficulties.
AO: Your story is so inspiring what are some tips that you can give to others your age who seek to do what you have done to become city councilman in their home states?
Jones: I say “Optimism and Execution”. Speak things into existence. Then, believe what you’ve said. Furthermore, use some elbow grease, jump in the trenches and get those hands dirty. Finally, sit back and enjoy your success – not for too long though, because then you’ll have to get to work!
AO: Has it been challenging juggling City Councilman and undergraduate work at the same time and how have you overcome these challenges?
Jones: It has. It’s just a measuring scale, deciding what’s most important to do, and when to do it. However, those relationships we build, allow for assistance. And people have really stepped up to help ensure my success in all of my activities. I thank God for that.
AO: What College do you attend and what are you majoring in?
Jones: The University of Michigan – Dearborn (mostly, a couple trips to UM-Ann Arbor during the week), majoring in Political Science and Finance.
AO: What are some of your duties as city councilman of district 4 and how do you plan to achieve and execute them?
Jones: The basic duties are to assess property, collect taxes, and conduct local, state, and national elections. Besides that, represent my constituency to the best of my ability, acting as a bridge between the community and the administration. | I plan on learning as much as I can and working alongside my colleagues to ensure Inkster is a place its residents can all be happy to call home.
AO: How important is it to be involved with our communities as youth and what are some ways we can get more youth leaders involved with making our cities a better and safer place?
Jones: In terms of sustainability, specifically, it is critical that we, as young people, get involved so when the torch is forced on us, we are actually adept to the environment. We need to learn from those before us in order to secure a future for those who are coming behind us. | To get more youth leaders involved, we just need to expose our young people to different things. Of course opportunities for exposure are always around, but many lack the access to these opportunities, and it is time we begin to change that.
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Antoinette Ortega Is A Contributing Writer For Onewest Magazine