Demopolis City Council gets three new faces

The Demopolis City Council will see changes in three of five districts after Tuesday’s municipal election results.

Charles Jones Jr. will be the new representative for District 1 after he took a three-way race in a landslide victory. Jones garnered 249 votes while Robert Shepherd had 101. Grace Clayton Motley finished with 23.

The win is the latest turn in what has been a trying year for Jones and his family after the tragic loss of his son, Charles (Tre) Jones III in April. Tre, a student at the University of Alabama, drowned after falling from a riverboat during a campus gathering. That incident provided a somber backdrop for District 1’s councilman elect Tuesday evening.

“You know, with what happened four and a half months ago, mentally, I wasn’t really ready. But, some people approached me – and I don’t know if it was people who wanted me to get back up on the horse and ride again or people who actually thought I could make a difference,” Jones said of his decision to seek a council seat for the second time after having lost an election in District 2 previously. “Of course, you know, I ran in District 2 and, before Tre’s accident had wholeheartedly planned on running in 2 again. I was approached by people and decided to go for it and make a difference and here I am. Dad was there. He was the Muhammad Ali of city council. I think he did three terms. Here I am starting my political career.”

Jones expressed anticipation for the new council, which will take office later this year. And while he has been through tough times this year, he is confident he has plenty to offer his city.

“I’m not at my best. Somebody sent me a text and said, ‘Hopefully there is still a little fire in you.’ There is a spark,” Jones said. “I’m probably not going to be what I used to be, but I think even on a bad day, I’m worth something.”

While Jones will take over District 1 after incumbent Thomas Moore opted not to seek re-election, D. Harris Nelson won District 3 over two-time incumbent Melvin Yelverton 181-84.

“My thought processes were, if I don’t do it, who else is going to do it. It is a hard, thankless job. I had the feeling that if I don’t at least try, then I can’t be mad at other people that are doing it if I don’t come out and at least try,” Nelson said of his decision to run before congratulating his opponent on a strong campaign. “I congratulate Melvin. He ran a good clean campaign. I appreciate the hard work he has put in the last eight years.”

Nelson, just 30 years old, hopes to bring a renewed energy and fresh perspective to a council that has spent much of the last four years deadlocked.

“I just hope we can get out of deadlock on things,” Nelson said, pointing to the 3-3 split decisions that prevented a great deal of council business from getting done in recent months. “Three-three doesn’t help anybody in the city. Doesn’t matter which side of the three you’re on. We’ve got to be able to come to some kind of consensus on things so we can function.”

Mitchell Congress, the incumbent from District 2, expressed similar thoughts after gaining re-election 256-146 over challenger Nathan Hardy.

“It means a lot to me that people in District 2 trusted me enough to re-elect me. I plan to live up to their expectations as I’ve always tried to do,” Congress said. “Hopefully the gridlock will end with this new administration and we can get the people’s business done. I think the people have spoken very loud and clear that they want the gridlock to end and they want us to get some things done.”

Cleveland Cole Jr. knocked off incumbent Jack Cooley in District 5 by a 301-229 margin. Cole, who could not be reached for comment after the win, will join a new-look council that also returns incumbent Bill Meador, who ran unopposed in District 4.