Danville City Council will hold its inaugural meeting Wednesday, where newly elected and re-elected council members will be sworn in and the city's mayor selected.
Councilmen who spoke to the Danville Register & Bee on Monday expressed support for keeping Alonzo Jones as mayor for the next two years.
"Alonzo has proven himself to be a great mayor," said Councilman Larry Campbell Jr., who was re-elected to council in May. "He has a great concern for the community. He's doing a super job."
Alonzo Jones, 56, was first elected to City Council in 2010 and was chosen as mayor in 2018, when he succeeded John Gilstrap. Before joining council, Jones served on the Danville School Board from 2004-10.
Alonzo Jones is director of maintenance and operations for Danville Public Schools.
The mayor leads meetings of Danville City Council, works with the city manager, city attorney and city clerk to set agendas for meetings, and leads ribbon cuttings for economic development announcements and other events.
When contacted by the Register & Bee Monday, Alonzo Jones said councilmen have asked him to consider continuing his job as mayor.
"Definitely," Alonzo Jones said, when asked if he wanted to remain in the position.
"We've made considerable improvements in two areas — reducing violent crime and growing Danville," he added.
For the past few years, City Council has made those two items, as well as improving education, the city's three priorities.
"Going forward, I think the toughest part is working on education," Alonzo Jones said.
Danville Public Schools announced the resignation of Stanley Jones from the superintendent's position after a special called meeting of the school board on June 1. His last day on the job in Danville is Tuesday.
Per his separation agreement, Stanley Jones will be paid a year's salary of $175,000. In addition, he'll receive $8,750 in deferred compensation, $7,200 in car allowance and health insurance for 12 months.
The resignation came just one week after the Virginia Department of Education delivered a spotty review of the division’s progress across key academic and administrative areas.
Just two of Danville’s 11 schools received accreditation from the state and the remainder were given a ranking of accredited with conditions, according to statewide results released by the Virginia Department of Education last September.
Galileo Magnet High School and Forest Hills Elementary School achieved accreditation, while George Washington High School earned accreditation with conditions
Robin Owens will serve as the superintendent designee starting Wednesday, until an interim superintendent is appointed by the Danville School Board on July 9. Owens has worked for the school system since 1988 and is currently director of student intervention services.
Alonzo Jones pointed out the city's efforts to improve education, including the appointment of two councilmen — Gary Miller and Sherman Saunders — to an education compact committee formed to help more schools in Danville achieve full accreditation.
Other councilmen praised Alonzo Jones' performance as a leader and a sociable presence in the community.
"He runs the meetings very well," said Councilman James Buckner. "He's very accessible. He's very engaged with the people — all the people, for that matter."
Councilman Gary Miller said, "Alonzo has acquitted himself well, particularly with all the crisis we've had lately, with COVID and the racial crisis we had lately. I would support him."
Vice Mayor Lee Vogler also emphasized Alonzo Jones' leadership during tough times. pointing to the pandemic and Tropical Storm Michael in October 2018.
"He has done a good job leading our city through some unprecedented times," Vogler said.
A vice mayor will also be selected during Wednesday's meeting, and newly-elected Councilman Barry Mayo will be sworn in along with re-elected incumbents Campbell, Saunders, Vogler and Madison Whittle.
Councilmen serve four-year terms, with the mayor's seat a two-year position. Mayors are not directly elected by citizens but are selected by council members from among council every two years.
Expressing support for Alonzo Jones as mayor, Mayo said he was ready to join council and tackle the city's issues.
"I'm ready to get to work," said Mayo, who will turn 55 the day he is sworn in.
Crane reports for the Register & Bee. He can be reached at (434) 791-7987.
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