Lawrenceville appoints first black city council member

Victoria Jones is the newest member of Lawrenceville City Council. She is also the council's first black member.

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Victoria Jones is the newest member of Lawrenceville City Council. She is also the council's first black member.

Lawrenceville City Council has appointed its first black member.

Victoria Jones will start her official duties on Feb. 20 at a city council work session. She was recommended by former Councilman Tony Powell, whose seat she is filling, and was chosen out of 16 applicants for the position, according to the city.

“My appointment just shows you a lot about the leadership of the city of Lawrenceville,” Jones said. “Beyond my race and the fact that I am a woman, the council took into consideration all of the applications and decided to appoint me as the next city councilwoman.”

Powell resigned in January in order to fulfill a campaign promise he made when initially running in 2010 to only serve eight years on the council. Council terms were two years each when he was elected, but a switch to four-year terms put him at the eight-year mark with one year remaining to serve. Jones will finish that year of service. Powell is an attorney with law firm Powell and Edwards.

Powell and Jones developed a mentor relationship in the years preceding Jones’ appointment. Jones worked for the Gwinnett County Department of Water Resources for 26 years and became active in the Lawrenceville Neighborhood Alliance when she moved inside the city limits six years ago. She is also an appointed member of the city’s Downtown Development Authority. That neighborhood involvement led her to regularly attend city council meetings, where she grew impressed with Powell’s “passion for the community.”

“I would walk up and talk to him after meetings and talk to him about something that he had made a motion on, or a motion that had passed, and he would always listen to what I had to say,” Jones said. “That was encouraging. The relationship we’ve had, as we discuss things, he’s always been a good listener and always heard what I’ve had to say.”

When Powell announced his intention to resign in December, he told his council colleagues that Jones would be a prime candidate to replace him due to her years of county government work and service to the city. He also said it was important to have an African-American on the council, which has never had a non-white member. Powell cited the recently born child of a pair of black friends as one of the factors leading him to this conclusion.

“It is my wish for this council for that baby to never know the day when she does not have the opportunity to sit on this council,” Powell said in the December meeting.

Jones’ vision for Lawrenceville is a city that is more walkable, with infrastructure that will be able to support a growing population.

“Being aware of the growth that is coming into Lawrenceville and how it will impact our infrastructure is important in making sure we are prepared for the future,” Jones said.

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