Newport News City Council, South District, Seat B: Candidates spotlight

John Elley

Age: 38

Profession: Owner, event planning company

Previous office held: Newport News School Board

Education: attended Thomas Nelson Community College, no graduation date given

What experiences do you bring that qualify you for city council?

My experience on the Newport News School Board, working as part of a team that translates a shared vision into collective acceptance, is a unique experience. Was instrumental in developing goals and granular milestones to positive outcomes for the community. Meanwhile, I work with my colleagues and the City Council. Adopt policies that ultimately lead to stakeholder satisfaction. The above ability to ensure proper execution from idea to implementation compels my eligibility for such office.

If elected, what would be your top priority and how would you achieve it?

As a longtime business owner of Newport News, I interact with both citizens and business owners. I understand their concerns and needs, inspired by the pride they have in our city. As a member of the city council, I will be an advocate for the people of the city and an active bridge between citizens and the city government. If elected to office, my top priorities are: lower taxes, economic development, fully funded schools, public safety, career and technical education programs.

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I would also build a more livable city with better transportation, better sidewalks and a focus on clean air and more recreational opportunities.


Yugonda Sample Jones

Age: 43

Profession: Entrepreneur, owner of Empower All, LLC

Previous office held: Newport News NAACP, vice chairman; Newport News Neighborhood Watch Coalition, President; Newport News Choice Neighborhood Initiative, Citizens Advisory Committee, Co-Chair

Education: None listed

What experiences do you bring that qualify you for city council?

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My husband and I have lived and raised our 4 children in Newport News for over 15 years. In addition to being a small business owner at (Newport News), I have continually worked on the ground to educate and advocate for our Southern County’s most vulnerable, often unheard, populations—our elders, children, single mothers and the homeless. I studied and prepared for this opportunity to serve as a councilwoman by learning what each city government does and connecting neighbors with local government. I have served and learned through several city projects such as: B. The Choice Neighborhood Initiative Planning and Implementation Grants for the Marshall-Ridley Transformation Project.

If elected, what would be your top priority and how would you achieve it?

One of my priorities is to represent and balance our local government with the voice of the people impacted by regulations and policies. To build an inclusive, vibrant city that attracts families and new innovative businesses while honoring our past and preserving our environment. I believe a city’s resilience is measured by the success of those who live within its lines.

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Our children deserve a quality public school system. I support full funding of our schools for teachers, students and communities in schools. A safe, healthy environment is essential to attracting new families and businesses to Newport News. Fair, affordable housing is a fundamental moral right that gives our neighborhoods character and stability. I will continue to host a version of the monthly “Your Voice Matters” township meetings to encourage open dialogue and community engagement on important city projects and city issues.

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