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It has been a little more than a year since Alonzo Jones took over the reins of mayor in Danville. But that year has seen much progress, especially in the three focus areas that City Council established nearly three years ago.
The focus areas are violent crime, education, and growing Danville.
“A little more than one year ago, City Council gave me the honor of serving as mayor, and at that time, I promised to build upon the efforts underway in these areas,” Jones said. “I also added ‘partnerships’ as a fourth area of focus. We are making big strides, and we have some real partners in making this happen.”
Jones points to the following developments during his time as mayor:
“Obviously, last week’s announcement that Ikea plans to close its plant here was a setback, and my heart goes out to each of the workers there,” Jones said. “But I want to point out that the decision to close had nothing to do with the workforce or the region.”
Going forward, the mayor noted that the local economy remains strong and, as evident by the economic development announcements in the past year, the city is well-positioned with the strategies and programs in place.
“Our economic development team is working hard and in cooperation with our many local and state partners,” Jones said. “I am optimistic that we will see more jobs and continued investments in the year ahead.”
The mayor also is optimistic about the direction in public safety.
“The police chief (Scott Booth) has put in place a number of strategies that are making a difference,” Jones said. “Danville is a safer community today.”
Those strategies include a departmental restructuring, additional law enforcement partnerships, use of data-driven policing, and community engagement.
“I participated in the recent graduation ceremony for the second annual Youth Police Academy, and it was amazing to see the interaction between the youths and the police officers,” Jones said. “This is what is taking place throughout the community. Our citizens are stepping forward and embracing the changes. There is greater trust, and that is key to having a safer community.”
Also, the mayor believes there is a greater synergy between the City Council, City staff, and the Danville Public School Board and School staff.
Last month, the school division honored city officials with a Strategic Partnership Award. In announcing the award, school leaders pointed to the collaborative relationship that has developed and led to increased investments in public education and alignment of career and technical education programs with workforce and economic development priorities.
“We are investing in our most important citizens – the children in our community,” Jones said.
Jones is serving his first two-year term as mayor, which is a position determined among sitting City Council members. Jones was vice mayor for a term before becoming mayor.
“We have worked as a team and in the best interests of this city, and we will continue to do that in the year ahead,” Jones said.