Yugonda Sample-Jones is a candidate for Newport News City Council. Her name will appear on the ballot on Nov. 8, 2022.
10 On Your Side reached out to all of the candidates running in this race. If you do not see a candidate listed with a profile, we did not receive one.
See who is on your ballot by viewing the candidate lists on the Virginia Department of Elections website.
Name: Yugonda Sample-Jones
Race: Newport News City Council
Website: Elect Y. Sample-Jones
Biography: Yugonda Sample-Jones is the first generation to be raised in Newport News. Her family roots are native to the Eastern Shore. She is the mother of four adult children and wife of Mr. Brandon Jones. Sample-Jones and her family have resided in Newport News for the last 15 years.
In 2010, while working as an account specialist in a call center, Sample-Jones was inspired to form Royals, a program promoting positive self-image and community service for young women who she affectionally titled “Young Queens.” She partnered with other grassroot organizations to motivate young women and encourage them to be the best versions of themselves by building self-esteem and providing support through mentorship and peer-to-peer conversation.
Through her partnership with Phyllis Wheatley YWCA, the young women were encouraged and taught how to be civically aware, then provided with the tools to change their narrative into action. The Young Queens were able to change bus stops, school backpack policies, and inspire their neighbors to keep their community clean by leading countless community clean-ups. They worked with the former superintendent to implement restorative justice in our public school system.
In 2018, Sample-Jones propelled into action while working as a teacher at a local alternative school for students iwth behavioral health diagnoses, graduating from the Virginia Progressive Leadership Project where she gained valuable training and skills to advocate, organize, and mobilize, leading her to be elected as the vice president of the Newport News branch of the NAACP.
It was around this same time Sample-Jones began her journey as a liaison for the Choice Neighborhood Initiative (CNI) Planning grant for the revitalization of her community, the east end of Newport News. She also graduated from the very first Newport News Leadership Series I and II, where she learned local civics, history, and transformational lessons.
Working and learning along the way, Sample-Jones overcame adversity and emerged as a community engagement specialist with a proven record of positive impact. Her work with the CNI led her to serve as an AmeriCorps Vista for the Corporation for National and Community Service and then employment with Hampton Roads Community Action Program to navigate community resources to satisfy the grant.
Sample-Jones’ work focused on connecting services and resources to the residents living in the Marshall-Ridley neighborhood, where her strategies were credited to decreased violent crime by 30% in targeted communities.
In 2019, Sample-Jones was inspired to create EmPower All, an organization whose mission is to encourage, expose, and engage people living in marginalized communities to cultivate socioeconomic change. The people she serves affectionately call her “the resource lady” as Sample-Jones continues to advocate for, connect, and stand in the gap of everyone she serves.
Why should resident elect you to City Council?
In addition to living here in Newport News during my primary years, I married here, raised my children in the Newport News public school system, and grew my business in our beloved city. I have learned, grown, and prepared myself for this opportunity to represent our citizens and serve as your next city councilwoman.
I have served my community long before deciding to run for public office, as the Heritage High School PTSA president and most recently as the Newport News NAACP vice president. Currently, I serve as the Newport News Neighborhood Watch Coalition president, the co-chair of the CNI Citizens Advisory Committee, and a member of the Board of Zoning Appeals. I have worked multiple major city projects, like the Choice Neighborhood Initiative and the rebranding project. I am compassionate, knowledgeable, and prepared to lead.
What are the top three priorities you would tackle if elected?
- Communication: Clear, streamline communication brings inclusiveness and transparent government. Ensuring residents voices are heard when making policies is key when building trust and welcoming new families and businesses to our city.
- Education/workforce development: I believe a city’s resilience is measured through the success of those who reside within its lines. Our children deserve a quality public school system. I support fully funding our schools for teachers, students, and communities in schools. Our veterans, returning citizens, late bloomers, and others deserve reliable community collaborations and reliable opportunities in workforce development and entrepreneurship education.
- Affordable housing: Fair, affordable housing is a basic moral right that brings character and stability to our neighborhoods. Large amounts of property sit unused and many housing units remain unoccupied. I will work to open opportunity for local contractors to revitalize these buildings and increase our housing stock. I will also work for a collaborative effort between the city manager’s office and code and compliance to focus on residents housing concerns and be proactive in addressing needs.
What is the most pressing economic issue facing your community, and how would you address it?
I believe one of the most pressing economic issues in my community is a lack of technical support to grow entrepreneurial passions and gypsy businesses into legitimate, sustainable, vibrant small businesses
As I mentioned earlier, I will continue to host a version of the “Your Voice Matters” monthly town hall meetings to connect interested neighbors with opportunities to do business with the city and offer a platform for business support groups to share available reliable resources.
What are your community’s biggest infrastructure needs, and how do you plan to fulfill them?
I believe our city’s most pressing, or biggest, infrastructure need is the lack of affordable, single-family housing available throughout the city. I support connecting qualified contractors with Section 3 opportunities to gain contracts and/or subcontracts to complete jobs like demolition of abandoned and/or unkept properties. I will also push for more SWAM participation in city contracting and work to increase small business subcontracting opportunities.
How is gun violence impacting your community, and how do you plan to address gun violence?
Gun violence has impacted so many of us across our city, including myself. After the passing of my nephew, Erek L. Wright, 15, in 2019 and several others close to me, I dedicated my activist journey to connecting reliable services to the people who need them most.
I stand in the gap for all of us who have been affected by violence, but whose voice has been muted or unheard. I currently serve as the Newport News Neighborhood Watch Coalition president, where we encourage and support neighbors caring for neighbors.
I have created a multitude of relationships with many national, state, and grassroots gun violence advocacy groups, like Moms Demand Action (endorsed) and Ketchmore Kids. I will continue to support these organizations because they provide actual facts and/or have their hands on the shooters that terrify our neighborhoods.
Also, my townhall meetings will be a safe space for individuals to share experiences and connect with credible resources, like mental health and counseling services.
I would like to build a consistent gun buyback program and fully fund victims’ services to build trust and begin to reverse the traumas inflicting our families.