Dr. Willie O. Jones Brings New Vision to the Rebirth of Compton
Councilman Dr. Willie D. Jones
- Jason Lewis for Sentinel
As a first term councilman and a lifelong educator, Dr. Jones’ focus is on unifying Compton and making its government work for the people
By Yussuf J. Simmonds
Sentinel Managing Editor
Dr. Willie D. Jones is the current city councilman of District 4 in Compton; he was elected to fill the vacant seat recently vacated by Isadore Hall, who went to the state assembly. Dr. Jones got there via a lifetime service as an educator, a member of the Compton College Board and as a lifelong resident of Compton. He brings to city government a unique understanding that only someone with his background can and he believes that the city deserves all that he can give especially for the children with whom he had formed a lasting bond as an educator.
“I’ve lived in Compton for almost 50 years, I’ve raised my children there,” Dr. Jones said, “I’ve worked there and I’ve always been active in the community. When my kids were in school I was active in the PTA (Parent-teachers association) and my son was in athletics. In fact, I got the lifetime achievement award from the PTA for my service.” Dr. Jones was stated in no uncertain terms about his relationship with the city, its residents and the community as a whole.
Though he has retired from being an educator, he still feels connected to Compton’s educational system. “Even now, I volunteer at Roosevelt Middle School and work with the sixth graders,” he continued, “I mostly do motivational speaking but I also do academic support and other help, and that’s rewarding. I worked in Compton and in Cal. State Dominguez (Hills, University) when it first started; and then I was recruited to come to Compton College where I worked for almost 30 years.”
Dr. Jones’ top three priorities are public safety, economic development and educating the youth – though not necessarily in order of priority. He said, “I graduated from USC and my work was always service. I worked in student services and because I was indigenous of the community, I was very sympathetic to the issues and the things that were going on in the community; I was aware. We had the gangs, the drugs, the foster kids and all of that. But within that, we have wonderful families that want the same things for their children like everybody else.” His academic field was education where he has a Ph.D. and he emphasized, “I had a special interest in African American and Latino men because they were the most endangered of any other group.”
What drove him from academia to politics was, “when I retired, people came to me and said ‘Dr. Jones what are we going to do; who are we going to bring our children to,’ because when I was there, they would bring me the good ones and the bad ones.” There was a vacancy on the Compton Community College Board of Trustees, but according to Dr. Jones, he was not interested. The people got together and beseeched him; he ran and won, “and that was my beginning,” he proudly stated.
“Now, what happened with the (city) council was that there was a person who was elected to the state assembly, and there was a vacancy,” he intoned, “and the same thing happened – the people came to me and asked me to run. I was fine there (at the college board),” he said. “I worked in education, I know the issues there.”
“The mayor appointed a person and now, I have to run against the mayor’s candidate,” Dr. Jones stated, “and I consider myself a better product, and I had been in public life before.
I had my program: safe streets, bringing in business, the bread-and-butter issues. But it was really difficult, the mayor had money. I didn’t have the war chest that they had, but I prayed.
We had to have 50 percent plus one to win, it wasn’t a plurality. I ran in the primary and nobody got 50 percent. It was five people: Amos Clay came out number one and I came out number two.”
According to Dr. Jones, he had used up all his money in the primary and was left broke for the general election. At that point he said, “I called (Assemblymen) Isadore Hall and he is a wonderful fundraiser. I asked for his help and he supported me.” And Dr. Jones won the 4th district council seat.
Since being on the council, he has proceeded to promote the things that he had run on and, as his website states, he wants to protect city assets and maintain a balanced budget. “I want to improve city service for the benefit of all residents,” Dr. Jones has proclaimed to make Compton the once-again beautiful city, full of prosperity and growth that he found it to be more than 40 years ago.