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Newport News' newly elected mayor speaks 1 day after election

The 33-year-old veteran and businessman takes over after more than a decade with McKinley Price as mayor of Newport News

NEWPORT NEWS, Va. — In the 2022 November General Election, voters in Newport News elected businessman and Marine Corps veteran Phillip Jones as their next mayor, after McKinley Price opted not to run for another term at the helm.

Jones, 33, becomes the youngest African American to win the mayoral seat in the city. A current member of the city's planning commission, Jones gathered 40% of the votes, beating three city council members by double-digit point margins. 

Jones spoke with 13News Now in city council chambers a day after his election.

What's on your mind, now that the election results have set in?

"Winning the election and days like today felt like my days in the Marine Corps. Really tired, but unable to sleep. But I spent the majority of today calling new council members and setting up times to talk to current ones. I think unity is the most important thing, especially when we have so many new council members. I think I received 500 texts and 200 calls."

You're a candidate endorsed by former Gov. Terry McAuliffe. Considering the state's current Republican leadership at the top, do you think voters take things like that into consideration in more hyper-local elections?

"I would say across the country, it's polarizing right now. Former Gov. McAuliffe has been a mentor for years so that's been a different dynamic, but in local elections, I think it's about who can bring the city together and who can make it more appealing for businesses. I was glad to get support from both the left and right. I think having 40% total of the vote implies we have different support from different types of people."

What are some issues you think aren't where they need to be?

"I've had a lot of calls with our regional leaders. Hampton City Schools are 100% accredited and Newport News Public Schools are not. Some could say that’s a school board issue, I disagree. As mayor, everything is under your mandate, and it's work hand and hand with them."

"Can we expand our CARE program, expand the mental health component that’s underlying component for a lot of public safety issues?" he added.

Do you think your age will make it difficult to work with other, more experienced city employees and elected leaders, knowing they've been in their positions for possibly longer than you've been serving?

"I don't," he said. "Voters chose me out of three other council members who've been on council for at least a decade. My biggest focus is unifying the council. The way we're split, two in the north, two in the central and two in the south and the mayor at large, there could be different priorities per district, but at the end of the day, I want the council to work together." 

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