Council meets to discuss Jones’ replacement in 9th District
Jeremy M. Lazarus | 12/7/2023, 6 p.m.
Next Monday, Dec. 11, eight members of City Council will vote to seat a replacement for outgoing City Council President Michael J. Jones, who is headed to the House of Delegates.
Three candidates are vying for the seat, first-term 9th District School Board member Nicole Jones; Angela Fontaine, who co-chaired the 2021 task force to create a civilian oversight board for the city police department; and Stephanie Starling, who has been involved in com- munity affairs.
Ms. Jones is deputy director of the nonprofit Art 180. Ms. Fontaine is an independent consultant in strategic planning and career coaching. Ms. Starling is a consultant for Verizon.
The trio made their final pitches Monday to the council during its Organizational Development Committee meeting.
Both Ms. Jones and Ms. Starling told the council they plan to run for the seat next year; Ms. Fontaine said she did not expect to.
After hearing from the candidates, council members held a closed-door session to discuss the appointment. They did not announce whether a consensus had been reached when they returned to restart the meeting.
Ahead of the meeting, Ms. Jones had been considered the front runner after Dr. Jones, no relation, publicly endorsed her and then told the Free Press that he had corralled majority support for his choice.
However, her selection became less assured after Dr. Jones appeared to backpedal this week.
He announced he was recusing himself from the selection process and sat out of the closed door session. In addition, he later said that he would not participate in the council vote next week to finalize his replacement.
On Tuesday, Dr. Jones claimed “that was always the plan to either recuse or abstain. It’s a decision that the council would have to live with so I shouldn’t be the one steering the ship,” although he had publicly mentioned that plan.
That is a sharp contrast with his previous statement to the Free Press that he had would not have endorsed Ms. Jones if he did not have the votes to secure her appointment.