by H. “Bud” Cothern. Ed.D.
Intelligent, Personable, Talented, Experienced. They are all adjectives that define my friend, Marques Jones. Marques is truly an exceptional person. That’s why I am formally endorsing him for the 2019 campaign for the 12th District Virginia Senate seat.
I know it may seem a way off, but it will be here in the blink of an eye. We all know how important it is to turn the General Assembly blue. That means the Virginia Senate as well. We also know State Senator Siobhan Dunnavant (R) will be a tough opponent. She has a large campaign war chest and support of the Tea Party, but no person I know is better prepared to take on her miserable public record than Marques Jones.
Marques is currently Chair of the Henrico County Democratic Committee, a slot that some consider more of a political establishment position, but that is not why I am supporting him. (By the way there are no prohibitions by the Democratic Party that an officer can’t also be a candidate for office). He is hardly an establishment figure. This young man’s role as a genuine progressive grassroots activist reaches back a number of years, well before the 2016 election. He didn’t just get started as an activist by running for a party role. I’ll start to tell that story in a few minutes, but first let me tell you about Marques as a person.
First, Marques is a loving husband and father to his family. He talks about his wife Jessica all the time with great affection. You can tell how much he really is dedicated to her. The same goes for his three girls, K’Leigh, Zoey and Ainsley. Just have a conversation with him and in just a few minutes you will hear about all about them from him and how he prides himself in his shared role of caregiver for them. Marques is a genuine, positive, caring human being. Plainly and simply put, Marques is just a very likable and personable guy. Everyone says so. When he talks to you he gives you ALL of his attention. He is truly interested in what YOU have to say. He is a great listener—not a bad thing for public servant! You walk away feeling good and knowing that he really is the textbook definition of a “people person.”
To his credit, Marques believes in the old axiom: “when life hands you a lemon, you just make lemonade.” In 2008 he was diagnosed with multiple sclerosis. It was a diagnosis that changed his life. He immediately shifted his focus from climbing the corporate ladder to advocating for those with chronic diseases and disabilities. A 2003 graduate of Marshall University he began a career as a software engineer before moving into project management and process engineering in the financial services sector. But his path soon took a different direction
Marques, you see, is a “man for all seasons,” a renaissance man, one trained and experienced in multiple disciplines and yet tempered with compassion for his fellow human beings. A graduate of the Sorenson Institute for Political Leadership’s Candidate Training Program in 2016 , he was honored that same fall by Governor Terry McAuliffe who named him to the board of Virginia’s Assistive Technology Loan Fund Authority.
As it turns out Marques became an entrepreneur. He is the founder and current President of ComForCare Home Care of Northwest Richmond, a company that helps seniors and others living with challenges to live independently in their own homes and continue to do all the things they love to do. As a small businessman he has to meet payroll, plan for growth, follow regulations, provide a good service and turn a profit..
His community outreach began early in his professional career. While working as a process manager at Capital One, Marques partnered with a team of associates to develop the Future Leaders Forum For Young Men. The group was founded with the mission of teaching leadership skills for underserved youth.
Marques is and has been a member of the Step Therapy Task Force advocacy group for 2017 and 2018. The purpose of the group is to establish regulations aimed at insurance companies using step therapy as way to limit a doctor’s ability to prescribe medications without first failing one preferred by the insurer.
Marques served as co-master of ceremonies for the 2017 National MS Society Leadership Conference and he was named National MS Society’s Virginia Advocate of the Year in 2015. As a MS Society representative he has lobbied legislators on all levels, championing causes aimed at improving the lives of people with chronic illnesses and disabilities.
It was a cumbersome healthcare journey for Marques, managing insurance coverage in the process of being diagnosed with MS. Early on he became fully aware of the opportunities afforded those like himself with good healthcare coverage versus those whose options are limited. Marques favors Medicaid expansion in Virginia, knowing personally that those who may need the same services he received may not get them under current conditions. Marques, himself, is in good shape physically due to early medical detection and intervention. That only happens when patients are unfettered by coverage omissions or limitations. Just listen to Marques explain how his diagnosis helped him to focus on the care of himself but others: MS Leadership Conference
Marques is prepared to sweep Siobhan Dunnavant out of office in 2019 and to vote for more commonsense measures in 2020 and beyond. He will be the antithesis of everything Dunnavant stands for politically. Dunnavant has failed her constituents in the moderate 12th Virginia Senate District (which went for Ralph Northam by 5 points this past November) with her ultra-radical policies, including voting against women’s rights (no contraceptives and abortion clinics), her support for school choice programs and virtual schools, her legislative sponsorship of expanding concealed carry laws and her votes against minimum wage increases. This past week, Dunnavant even voted “no” on a committee vote to take a bill banning conversion therapy for LGBT children to the main floor. She has also been investigated by federal authorities for campaign ethics violations.
Marques has a personal stake in the success of public education. Marques has kids in Henrico Public Schools. As a future legislator he supports increasing teacher pay and providing for a more moderate testing component of the SOL that he believes has gotten out of control. Marques also believes in focusing more attention on community college and trade schools and getting students to do more real world apprenticeships.
He utterly rejects the concept of school choice programs, calling them a sneaky way to divert money to private schools. He believes such programs would destroy public schools by draining away needed resources. Rather than experimenting with school choice programs, he believes the General Assembly should be providing K-12 public education with sufficient funding under the Standards of Quality (SOQ). According to the most recent Joint Legislative Audit and Review Commission (JLARC) study released on September 14, 2015, state spending on K-12 public education since 2005 has declined by 7% per pupil. After adjusting for inflation and increased enrollment, Virginia spent 9% less on K-12 instruction than it did in 2005. According to the VA Dept. of Education, Inflation Adjusted State Per Pupil Funding declined from $4,275 in 2009 to $3,647 in 2016 or by $628 per pupil (Richmond Times Dispatch) Marques believes the General Assembly should be working on cyber-security issues facing the state (i.e., voting, et. al.) and the nation. Given his degree and knowledge in science and technology he would add a unique skill set to the General Assembly.
Marques also strongly believes in the need for criminal justice reform. The United States imprisons more people than any country. We represent nearly five percent of the world’s population and yet we house nearly 25 percent of its prisoners. Reforms need to take place in Virginia as well. Marques believes, for example, Virginia needs to reform its laws regarding allowing greater use of DNA evidence by prisoners seeking appeal. He believes also that Virginia should abolish the practice of suspending driver’s licenses when a person is not able to pay court fines, a practice that creates a vicious cycle of losing the ability to travel to work, then losing a job and becoming less able to pay court fines. Like many of his friends in the criminal justice system, he believes that “restorative justice” practices should be incorporated into sentencing when possible.
Marques is very concerned about income inequality. It will be a priority for him. “Income inequality is greater in the United States than in any other democracy in the developed world…. The evidence that income inequality in the United States has been growing for decades and is greater than in any other developed democracy is not much disputed.” Marques strongly supports the principle of equal pay for both women and men. He will also fight to enact laws against discriminatory hiring practices. Moreover, he believes that not all of our children will seek a traditional college diploma. Indeed, community college and trade schools will play an important role in training much of tomorrow’s workforce. Marques knows there are well-paying high demand jobs out there for skilled workers. He believes we need to put more emphasis on strengthening trade and apprenticeship programs.
In summary, Marques Jones possesses the unique characteristics of being a long-term progressive grassroots activist, a Democratic Party team player who has learned the intricacies of voter mobilization and outreach, a young person of many talents and experiences and a bright, inquisitive, friendly listener. He will make for a great Virginia Senator! Elect Marques Jones to represent you in Virginia’s 12 Senatorial District. 2019 will roll around before you know it like thunder before a storm. Will you help Marques be part of that 2019 Blue Storm? Can he count on your support? He is the leader we are all looking for. Please feel free to share and/or tweet this post to your own online universe. Contact and donation information links for Marques Jones for Senate are listed below.