Longtime Jefferson City resident Ashley Jones-Kaufman hopes to encourage more economic development and community connectivity if elected to represent Jefferson City's 5th Ward on the City Council.
Jones-Kaufman filed for the open 5th Ward seat Friday after current Ward 5 Councilman Larry Henry announced he would not seek re-election this year.
Between her job as marketing and communications coordinator for the state Department of Economic Development Division of Energy and having worked for different public service organizations, Jones-Kaufman said she understands how to be a public servant. As a council member, she added, she would be "the public's voice and a liaison person between the powers-that-be and the community."
Jones-Kaufman grew up in Jefferson City before moving to attend Southern Illinois University. She said one of her goals, if elected to City Council, is to encourage economic development that will attract younger people to the state capital, while also preserving the history and integrity of older homes in the 5th Ward.
"I hear a lot of people say they have kids here who graduate and go off to college and then they don't come back here because they say Jefferson City doesn't have a lot to offer for younger individuals that are just out of college," she said. "I think me leaving and coming back from college, I could maybe help with pushing innovation in our community to bring back younger individuals. It's important for young people to come back and stay because they are our future, Jefferson City's future. We need new blood in the community to help develop."
Along with economic development, Jones-Kaufman said, she wants to encourage neighborhood connectivity and safety by working with the Jefferson City Police Department to implement more neighborhood watch programs in the 5th Ward. She added this would give children a chance to become familiar with police officers and for the police to meet residents.
She plans to meet with 5th Ward residents and set up focus groups in the coming weeks to learn what she can build upon, if elected.
Along with Jones-Kaufman, Jon Hensley and Jim Crabtree also have filed to run for the 5th Ward seat.
Ward 1 Councilman Rick Prather, Ward 2 Councilman Rick Mihalevich, Ward 3 Councilwoman Erin Wiseman and Ward 4 Councilman Ron Fitzwater are seeking re-election this April. As of Monday, no one has filed to run against them.
Today is the last day candidates can file for City Council. Filing is open 8 a.m.-5 p.m.