Mayor Jones Reflects on Holding the Keys to the City

Mayor Jones Reflects on Holding the Keys to the City

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MOBILE, Ala. -

From the roof-top of Government plaza, mayor sam jones scans the city's skyline - a clear example of mobile's progression since he took office 8 years ago.

"The Maritime Museum here didn't exist when I came in office. The Probate Court here didn't exist. The Hampton inn was not here. The RSA Tower was under construction. This building was the Old First National Bank. If you look over here, Austal built a new manufacturing hanger there," he shows.

Mayor Jones took on several big projects that also contributed to the city's growth.

One of the biggest - landing an Airbus contract to build commercial aircraft - after loosing a military tanker contract to Boeing.

"We still have those relationships and we nurture those relationships all the time, because I don't think Airbus is finished with us yet. I think that you will see that expand to maybe another assembly line or they will build more aircraft other then the a-320 in Mobile. I think that will be the future of Mobile," Jones said.

Construction is underway on the 600 million dollar manufacturing facility at Brookley Field. But amid of all the Tanker negotiations, a routine blood test confirmed a more personal battle. Jones was diagnosed with multiple-myeloma. Treatments caused him to lose his hair, but he continued to work.

"I really had enough faith to know that God had a plan for me and for my life so I never was discourage about the sickness," said Jones.

Other major projects include the annexation of west mobile and implementing the state's first 311 service line and city smart accountability systems.

But there were also setback. Carnival cruise line pulled out of port, leaving an empty 25 million dollar cruise terminal. It's a vacancy Jones has continuously worked to fill.

"It's a matter of keeping that recruitment effort taking place and I think that will pay off. I would suspect that it would pay off within the year. "There are about four that we deal with and at least two have a real real interest," he said.

Addressing the city's outdated infrastructure is also an ongoing issue - spending close to 100 million dollars on new drainage systems and streets since he took office.

"What has happened to us is that we've outgrown all of our infrastructure. We are working Ann Street now. Ann Street the drainage system collapsed under ann Street. I think they will be letting a contract here within the next few weeks. So that's and ever changing process but it's a top priority with us and we need to address every year and I think they will have to continue to address it every year to catch up," said Jones. 

Implementing the one cent tax was a controversial call, but one he says was needed.

"Had it not been for the sales tax, we would have been on of those cities that would've had to lay off people, and we would have to cut services to people. Our bond rating would've went down. We would not be appealing at all in terms of economic development. There are some things that you have to do that are not popular, but they are necessary and so what you have to do is make those tough decisions. While we've got all these industries on the ground, we haven't started hiring yet. And once they start hiring thousands of workers and their suppliers start hiring thousands of workers, we see the economy really start movins. Then you can be able to adjust your sales tax to a more equitable level," said Jones.

Jones says he's proud of what's been accomplished during his tenure as mayor and is grateful for the opportunity.

"I would just like to say to the people in our city, that I appreciate their support. As a legacy, I would like people to remember that we made a positive contribution toward moving or community forward and it wasn't for me, it was for them," said Jones.

Jones says after he hangs up his hat as mayor, he looks forward to continue working in the community - possibly revisiting programs like Mobile Community Action.

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