Jon Jones, candidate for City Council, is on a mission to make Atlanta the first U.S. city with Direct Democracy
[OCTOBER 23, 2012]
How many people does it take to change a light bulb?
One …if that person is Jon Jones, and if that light bulb is your idea of government.
Jones, a 25-year-old Atlanta resident, is running for City Council with the mission of
fundamentally changing how government operates. Since America’s founding, its citizens
have elected public officials to represent them in the legislative branches of local, state,
and federal government. This age-old system is known as “representative democracy”.
But Jones contends that, not only is this system inherently flawed, but that it is also
wildly outdated. “We live in an age of instant communication. Why has our government
not kept pace?” Jones asks.
And in terms of us living in an era of instant communication, he is right. Today’s
generation of citizens are powered by laptops, smart phones, tablets, and constant
access to the Internet. Data released Monday by the U.S. Census Bureau shows that in
2010, 75.9% of all households have access to the Internet. Fifteen years ago, when the
Census Bureau first collected data on households with Internet access, only 18 percent
of Americans lived in homes that could connect to the Web. The growth of business in
the last 20 years has been driven by our ability to transfer information immediately, and
to have unfettered access to information that would have been difficult or impossible to
Jones states, “We bank online. We shop for food, clothes, and homes online. We
meet new people, and share experiences with them - all through technology.” He argues
that government is the last remaining frontier for which people can use technology to make their lives more efficient. Jones envisions building a website that is part wiki, and part social network to make direct democracy a reality for Atlanta residents living in his district. His proposed website would allow residents to share documents and resources, hold discussions, announce events, write and propose legislation, vote on bills currently being considered by City Hall, and make changes to existing ordinances. If the project is successful, Atlanta would be the first American city to operate a direct democracy at the local level of government.
But this dream, for Jones, is an up-hill battle. As a candidate, Jones is overwhelmingly outmatched. The vote for the seat Jones is trying to fill doesn’t reach the ballot until November 5, 2013 – a whopping 14 months away. And to win the election, Jones would have to successfully unseat the current incumbent, Kwanza Hall. Hall, who has represented Atlanta’s 2nd District for the past 7 years, is extremely popular among his constituents, has close ties to the community, and boasts a campaign war chest valued in the hundreds of thousands of dollars.
Jones, on the other hand, is relatively new to politics, has just 12 volunteer campaign staffers, and The Committee to Elect Jon Jones has just under $1,000 in its ledger. With 16 months of campaigning, Jones argues that this is ample time to build an organization that can raise money, garner attention, and get his message to voters by November of next year. Jones, for the most part, has been a one-man operation: designing his own campaign’s website, creating all of the handout materials on his personal laptop, and even taking most of his campaign photos on a small digital camera. But like a person changing a light bulb, Jones believes that all it takes is one individual to start a movement. He adds, “And once the light bulb is on, it can light the way for the world to see.”
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[JANUARY 29, 2013]
Candidate Jon Jones and the Committee to Elect Jon Jones have officially registered with the Georgia Government Transparency & Campaign Finance Commission.
Beginning March 31st, 2013, the public will have access to all of Jones’ personal finance records, along with the comprehensive list of campaign contributors. Jon Jones pledges to run a government that promotes transparency to the citizens, and he has promised to run his campaign for Atlanta City Council’s 2nd District seat the same way.
The Georgia Government Transparency and Campaign Finance Commission (formerly known as the State Ethics Commission) is an agency that administers and enforces the provisions of the Georgia Government Transparency and Campaign Finance Act (formerly known as the Ethics in Government Act).
With the information published, interested members of the public can visit the GGTCFC website to download reports detailing how each candidate collects and spends campaign contributions, who a candidate’s donors are, and the total sum of monies raised for the purpose of competing in elections.
You can visit the GGTCFC site at
Jon Jones marks Independence Day 2012 with announced run for Atlanta City Council.
[JULY 4, 2012]
The 4th of July marks the day that America gained its independence from tyranny, and began the quest towards building a democracy. It is with that same concept in mind, that this Independence Day is the kicks off for the campaign to elect Jon Jones to Atlanta City Council's District 2 seat, and his mission to deliver direct democracy to Atlanta government. Over the next 3 months, volunteers will be visiting the homes and businesses, canvassing, and knocking on doors to collect the 600 resident signatures necessary to appear on the November 5, 2013 ballot. Residents will have the opportunity to speak directly with Jon Jones, and his surrogates, as he outlines his plan to ensure that every voice is heard in City Hall. The Fulton County Board of Registration & Elections will conduct the final count of all signed supporters.
Meet ADDI, the future of Atlanta Government
[FEBRUARY 5, 2013]
“The movement to deliver Direct Democracy to Atlanta has officially begun,”
proclaims Jon Jones to a room of web developers and HTML 5 architects. Jones,
who is a candidate running in this year’s Atlanta City Council election, says his
primary goal is not about working in government – it’s about wanting to change
the way that government works. And if his rhetoric isn’t soaring enough for you,
you should listen to his ideas. If elected, Jones intends to institute a system of
“direct democracy”, which is a democracy in which the power to govern lies
directly in the hands of the people rather than being exercised through elected
Involving everyone in the nitty gritty of government “sausage making” seems like a lesson in chaos theory. Yet Jones contends that modern technology can be harnessed to make civic engagement simple and effective. “We bank online. We shop for food, clothes, and cars online. We even meet new people, and share pieces of our lives with them online. Why has our government not kept pace?” he asks of his programmers. Jones spends weeknights working with them to construct an online interface - loosely styled after social websites like Wikipedia and reddit.com – that will enable residents of his district to vote on bills, write legislation of their own, and propose changes to existing laws, all electronically.
Ideally, Jon Jones envisions a system wherein every initiative put up for debate in City Hall is debated by the general public first. With the belief that elected representatives are inherently susceptible to making decisions in their own self interest, Jones has stated often that this makes the current system of electing representatives flawed; and he pledges to never vote on a single bill without the consensus of his district.
Admittedly, a handful of the techies behind the project share a hint of skepticism. Yet every one of them, when asked in private, shared that they are completely devoted to making Jones' dream of a more-inclusive government happen. “I think it’s a good idea. I think we can build a civic/social network; and if it works, there’s no question that it could have larger implications,” Doug Cooley states outside of Jones’ campaign headquarters.
The system that Jones and team are building, or “ADDI” as they call it, is an acronym for the Atlanta Direct Democracy Interface. Still in its early development stage, Jones has released a non-functional beta version of the software to the public so that future users can get a sense what features ADDI will have (Test it at http://ellejay80.wix.com/addi). When asked what factors will make his campaign a success, Jones decisively answers, “the people.” Introducing a new idea to the electorate will likely be an uphill battle, as explaining the concept of Direct Democracy to unfamiliar voters will take a lot of resources. And getting a diverse constituency made up of elderly and low income residents to adopt internet technology borders on the impossible.
But Jones remains constant. He likens the plight of ADDI to other start-up websites like Facebook and Instagram - both social networks with modest beginnings, but which now boast international reach across millions of users. “I'm on a mission to make Atlanta the first American city with a Direct Democracy; but ultimately, that decision lies with the people.”
The election for the (District 2) City Council seat Jones wants to fill will be held on Tuesday, November 5, 2013.
[MARCH 1, 2013]
Jon Jones will be attending a special “Meet the Candidate” Town Hall this month. The event - scheduled for Monday, March 18, 2013 - will be hosted by the Candler Park Neighborhood Organization. In 2012, Candler Park joined the group of 13 other neighborhoods comprising Atlanta’s second district after the passage of City Council’s redrawn district map. Jon Jones will welcome the residents of Candler Park into it the D2 community. Jones was invited to attend the gathering to give voters the opportunity to learn about Jon and his vision for Direct Democracy. The event will begin at 7:00pm inside the First Existentialist Congregation Old Stone Church at 470 Candler Park Drive NE, Atlanta, GA 30307. All are invited, and Jon Jones looks forward to introducing himself, answering any questions, and outlining his plan for Atlanta.
For a map to the event, click HERE.
Jones to attend Candler Park Town Hall
[APRIL 2, 2013]
On your marks...Get set...GO!
Jon Jones will be star-spangled with speed as he makes his way down the streets of
Atlanta in this year’s Peachtree race. The AJC Peachtree Road Race has distinguished
itself as one of the premier Fourth of July traditions in Atlanta. With its festive
atmosphere, scenic city course and patriotic spirit, the event attracts runners from all
over - eager to take part in the July 4th celebration. On March 25th, Jones was selected
from a lottery of thousands of entrants to be a participant in the marathon. The AJC
Peachtree Road Race starts in Buckhead, near Lenox Square Mall, and ends in
Piedmont Park – passing through neighborhoods that Jones is vying to represent in
City Hall this November.
The Committee to Elect Jon Jones has also scheduled a pep rally for supporters in
Piedmont Park once he reaches the finish line. Flanked by members of the community,
Jones will deliver a speech at 1:00pm at the lake dockside in Piedmont Park, inviting members of the press and race participants to attend as he outlines his vision for direct democracy.
“It’s going to be an exciting opportunity for me to meet the people of this city, and run side-by-side with them as we honor our nation’s commitment to freedom and personal liberty,” Jones says, preparing to set off on the 6.2 mile race. The Independence Day marathon and press event will both be firsts for Jon Jones, marking the sprint phase of a race that pits him against incumbent Kwanza Hall for Atlanta City Council’s second district seat. Voters will head to the polls on November 5, 2013. The Fourth of July represents a checkpoint for the candidates, leaving 4 months until they reach the Election Day finish line.
For more information about the race, visit peachtreeroadrace.org
Jon Jones: Running for Democracy
[MAY 10, 2013]
Creative Loafing, Atlanta's premier newsweekly with a circulation of 80,000 and a readership of 590,000, just recognized Jon Jones as a "Champion of Direct Democracy"! Staff Writer Max Blau details Jones' vision of an Atlanta where every resident is given an equal opportunity to govern their city. The article features a link to the Atlanta Direct Democracy Interface, the website that Jones is currently building to be "a constantly changing collection of community ideas... a living, breathing illustration of the people's voice."
The article page also plays host to one of Jones' campaign videos. The video - almost 5 minutes in run time length - shows Jon describing why he believes our system of government needs change, and why Direct Democracy is the best solution.
You can read the entire Creative Loafing article, titled "Jon Jones, champion of direct democracy, draws inspiration from Reddit in fight against Councilman Kwanza Hall" by clicking HERE.
Jon Jones, Champion of Direct Democracy
[MAY 23, 2013]
. Jon Jones, the Atlanta City Council candidate recently heralded in a Creative Loafing article as the “Champion of Direct Democracy”, is taking his show on the road, so to speak. Jones is on a mission to drastically improve the level of communication and transparency between elected representatives and their constituents, and to create a vote-counting system that holds council members accountable to the will of the people.
. Jones started promoting his tech-savvy brand of direct democracy back in 2012. And his concept has gained traction with voters in Atlanta’s Midtown section, subsets of Buckhead, and on various ATL college campuses. But a major hiccup in Jones’ outreach plan is that, for voter turnout purposes, he may have been preaching to the wrong masses. Jones was initially slated to run for city council competing for the 2nd District seat. But a technicality discovered by the Atlanta Office of Planning revealed that Jones’ residence on Ralph McGill Blvd will be split in half by the new district map to take effect in 2014, thus making him a resident of district 5. Election residency requirements mean that if Jones wants to successfully qualify for the ballot, he can only run for the
seat in his (future) district; despite being a current resident of District 2, and having been for the 12 months prior to Election Day.
“The movement continues,” Jones recites to curious supporters. “Together, we have already begun the work to bring REAL democracy to Atlanta. Shifting lines on a city map can’t stop us now!” In response to the discovery, Jones’ campaign quickly amended all of the required legal paperwork, rolled out an updated website, and launched a new line of merchandise – complete with the colorful new “JON JONE5” logo. With just 6 months until Election Day, Jones has a lot of ground to cover. The race for the District 5 seat already has 2 contenders. The current incumbent, Natalyn Archibong, has represented Atlanta’s 5th District since 2003, is extremely popular among her liberal/progressive base, and has long-standing ties to the community. The other challenger, Matt Rinker, made a bold entrance into the race in February, and has since out-raised the incumbent by almost 30%.
But Jones remains optimistic. “I see promise in the discussions that I have with Atlantans. Regardless of what district they live in, they all seem to agree that City Council is making massive, long-term decisions without the input of the taxpayers – and that’s not right,” Jones says. Jones plans to, once elected, implement an interface that would allow residents to hold discussions, write and propose legislation, vote on bills currently considered by City Hall, and make changes to existing ordinances. If the project is successful, Atlanta would be the first American city to operate a direct democracy at the local level of government.
Jon Jones Enters District 5 Atlanta City Council Race!
On 50th Anniversary of 'I Have a Dream' speech,
Jon Jones Qualifies for Atlanta City Council Election
[AUGUST 28, 2013]
Today marks a significant day in America’s history. Fifty years ago - on this date - Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. delivered his now-infamous “I Have a Dream" speech. King’s speech, drawing from the principles of Democracy outlined in the Declaration of Independence, the Constitution, and the Emancipation Proclamation, painted the reverend’s vision of a nation in which every American is treated equally. To commemorate Dr. King’s legacy, and the eternal impact of King’s message, Atlanta City Council candidate Jon Jones chose August 28th to file his notice of candidacy and affidavit, officially earning his slot on November’s ballot.
“The ‘I Have a Dream’ speech will forever be one that is powerful, transformative, and inspiring to all generations,” Jones says. The District 5 candidate, who will be 27 years old on Election Day, is the youngest contender in this year’s race; and if elected, he would be the youngest Council member to serve in the city’s history. When fielding questions about his relative youth and perceived inexperience, Jones often cites Dr. Martin Luther King – pointing out that Dr. King was 26 when he led the Montgomery Bus Boycott. Jones states, “It is in the footsteps of great leaders like Dr. King who I walk, striving to affect positive change in my community.”
Jones plans to implement major changes to Atlanta’s law-making process in an effort give residents more input into City Hall’s decisions. The crux of Jones’ campaign is his plan to build a system of Direct Democracy – a system that gives the legislative power to citizens rather than to their elected representatives. His strategy, if elected, is to build a technological infrastructure that would enable residents to cast votes on city initiatives via smartphone, telephone, and an online website he built called ADDI (Atlanta Direct Democracy Interface).
As a member of the tech-savvy Y Generation, Jones acknowledges that it will be an uphill battle convincing older voters to trust smartphone and internet voting platforms. Yet Jones expresses confidence, and cites today’s filing of election paperwork as an important part of that journey, proclaiming “to become an official candidate in the city of Dr. King’s birth, on the same day that he stood in front of thousands and moved a nation – that’s an honor beyond all compare. And I am humbled that the people of Atlanta would consider me as their next Councilman.”
Jon Jones to release financial records on March 31st
Jon Jones Pledges $84,000 Return to Taxpayers
[SEPTEMBER 15, 2013]
“How would you spend $84,000 of taxpayer money?” That’s the question that Atlanta City Council
candidate Jon Jones has posed to voters in his district. Jones, who is running in this year’s
election for the District 5 seat, pledged to return the portion of the council members’ salary that
exceeds $39,000 a year; and he’s inviting residents of the city to decide how to spend that
Last December, Atlanta’s City Council voted to increase their salaries from $39,473 per year to
$60,300 a year – an increase of $20,827 annually. Council members who voted in favor of the 52%
salary increase have stated that they believe the raise is much-deserved, saying that the time and
labor spent doing their job warrants higher compensation. Jones, who doesn’t entirely disagree
with that rationale, does believe that the vote was undemocratic and wants to draw attention to the
vote as a prime example of government conflicts of interest.
“There are many hard-working Atlantans who live with the reality of being underpaid. The only thing
that separates these people from those in the political class is that City Council members have
the power to vote themselves a tremendous raise, while the rest of us do not” Jones says. His
platform, which advocates creating a system of direct democracy in Atlanta, encourages citizens
to participate in the political decision-making process. If elected, Jones plans to implement a
technological infrastructure that enables residents to cast votes on all City Hall initiatives via
smartphone, telephone, and an online website he built called the Atlanta Direct Democracy
On Jones’ campaign website (JonesforAtlanta.com), visitors are asked how the pay raise could be better spent. Through a forum designed to mimic how residents would input ideas using ADDI, Jones offers people the chance to provide opinions and input into how the 84 grand Jones will give back should be spent by the city. The $84,000 figure is calculated by rounding the raise increase amount to a clean $21,000, and then multiplying it by 4 years – the term that each Atlanta City Council member is elected for.
It should be noted that the current District 5 Councilwoman, Natalyn Archibong, voted against the proposed pay increase. A total of 4 council members voted “No”, while 10 voted “Yes”. The 52% pay raise passed, granting all Council members a raise; meaning that even Council members who opposed the raise will still receive and benefit from it. To date, Jon Jones is the only Council candidate that has pledged not to accept the pay raise. About the salary increase, he asserts, “The people didn’t ask for it. The people didn’t vote on it. Taxpayers didn’t approve it. So I’m giving every cent back to the people it belongs to!”
The election for Atlanta City Council will take place on Tuesday, November 5, 2013.