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North Side Pastor Eyes Council Seat

Maybe it's because some have told Jones there's a good chance Johnson won't run again. After all, many constituents have criticized Johnson for not fighting to close Lombardy Street near Virginia Union University. And a recent article in the Richmond Times-Dispatch revealed that Johnson, a Realtor, has failed to pay some property tax he owes.

Councilman Johnson, however, tells Style: "I'm planning to run." He says he

trusts his constituents to make the right choice. "I'm running for the seat,

not against an opponent," he says.

Jones has collected 150 signatures of registered voters in the 3rd District

— 25 more than required. Soon she'll take them to the registrar's office.

Jones is campaigning on a platform that might anger some blacks and attract

others. And she works actively to court the votes of whites. "You must learn

to leave race out of the issues," Jones says.

She suggests that many Richmond blacks have never fully experienced the "pain"

of discrimination the way their ancestors did. "Made-up racism in the minds

of black leaders gets into the minds of children," she says, and that stalls

racial harmony.

Soon Jones plans to visit the retirement community Imperial Plaza. There are

1,100 people there, she says, most of them white. "I think I'll win their vote,"

she says.

(Johnson, meanwhile, insists he filters race from whatever issue he's dealing

with at the time. He cites voting for the Robert E. Lee mural on the Canal Walk

and against the closing of Lombardy Street as examples. "There's so much you

don't know about the district, about the bureaucracy of the city," he says.

"It takes time to learn that.")

Jones' church and its neighboring 24-hour day care make up her Love Outreach

Ministry. It's here that Jones spends most of her time.

For now, her campaign manager, John Royster, says that Jones must talk strategy.

Jones says some supporters have instructed her to "play down the religion thing."

Some City Council members, they tell her, have made the association with religion


"I hate to do that to God," she laments. "I worked so hard to be pastor."

— Brandon Walters

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