By DIANE XAVIER
(The Dallas Examiner) – When it comes to economic growth, equality and accessibility to food, health care and other resources, there is still a lot of work to be done in certain parts of the city compared to others. For Rep. Venton Jones of District 100, districts such as his still need a lot of help to move the community forward.
As the new representative of the area, He said his goal is to focus on four areas: community stability, increasing health care access, public education, equity, equality and justice for all.
“I was born and raised in the district and the district represents both sides of the city of Dallas such as West Dallas and South Dallas,” Jones said. “It’s a big district that serves about 200,000 people.”
Other areas the District 100 serves include parts of Dallas County such as East Dallas, Buckner Terrace, Victory Park and Oak Cliff.
Jones took over the seat vacated by Congresswoman Jasmine Crockett who replaced longtime Dallas Congresswoman Eddie Bernice Johnson. He is also the first Black gay lawmaker elected to the Texas House of Representatives and the first Black state legislator openly living with HIV in the United States.
Additionally, he is the founder and CEO of the Southern Black Policy and Advocacy Network, whose mission is to improve health, social and economic conditions impacting Black communities in the southern U.S. And he serves as a federal appointee to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention/Health Resources and Services Administration Advisory Committee on HIV, Viral Hepatitis, and STD Prevention and Treatment.
“I’ve been working with the health care policy space for the last 20 years,” Jones said. “So negotiators are working in Washington, working to improve disparities for minority communities in American communities. And I wanted to be able to use that experience to bring that back home and to be able to impact change. This area, I actually moved back to the area that I grew up in, to be able to start doing work as a precinct chair. And when this opportunity became available, I knew it was going to be an amazing opportunity to continue to be able to impact change in my neighborhood.”
He received his bachelor’s degree in community health from Texas A&M University and a master’s degree in healthcare administration from the University of Texas at Arlington.
“From the standpoint of community stability, we have been working to find some legislative solutions for addressing the high property taxes we’re seeing,” he explained. “We have several pieces of legislation that are addressing property tax from the standpoint of homestead exemptions and providing relief to our residents and also to see how we can make sure that individuals living in communities are not being forced out. We also want economic growth that’s happening. We’ll be talking about their park that’s being built. It’s still a windward shopping center, just all of those opportunities and just really making sure that other people are actually getting the economic benefits. Also, as it relates to health care, there’s so many zip codes with devastating health issues. Those are some of our higher rates of diabetes. HIV is another issue. So we’re really working to improve health care access and resources.”
Other areas Jones and his fellow lawmakers want to focus on this 88th legislative session include helping retired teachers and increasing salaries for staff at public schools.
“We’re also working to have even fair wages for them, keeping workloads under control and manageable versus having one person have to work for an entire school,” he stressed.
Another key area his team is working on is making sure those that are incarcerated are treated humanely.
“As it relates to corrections around the Corrections Committee, we want to work to improve three areas around our corrections,” he stated. “One condition is to have a stable facility and make sure that we’re providing proper things such as air conditioning. We also want to make sure that the process supports individuals to be able to stay out of prison and ways to stay out of prison, making sure that we’re providing other things that are needed so that people can really get a fresh start when they use the justice system to be able to get that down.”
Jones said Texas legislators are also focused on education.
“Public education is definitely at the top of the list and of course making sure that we’re putting adequate support in our schools,” he said. “Particularly in the higher education space, the continued conversation around diversity, equity and inclusion and making sure that we’re creating spaces in our institute’s that are actively recruiting people of color and other marginalized populations.”
Jones said he wants his constituents to know that he is there for them and advocating on their behalf.
“I think that it’s important to know that there’s somebody working on behalf of residents,” Jones concluded. “We’re going to create platforms where residents will be able to reach out and share their concerns. I welcome your engagement, your continued engagement from the district. We have so many people working with our office, and we’re just really happy to be able to have the honor of representing this district, and we’re gonna keep on doing that throughout the rest of this legislative session.”
Metatags: 88th Legislative Session, equity, Venton Jones, HIV, West Dallas, South Dallas, East Dallas, Buckner Terrace, Victory Park, Oak Cliff, Texas House of Representatives, first Black