The day students from Marjory Stoneman Douglas High and other schools flooded the state Capitol, Rep. Shevrin Jones darted back and forth from meetings with lawmakers to greet constituents.
Many of the students weren’t from his legislative District 101. But friends say that is just who he is — a caring millennial lawmaker and advocate for the common man and woman.
“He cares so much about people. Sometimes he puts himself on the back burner. He’s a very selfless man,” said Jerrick Leonard, his chief of staff.
Jones, a Democrat from West Park, is in his third two-year term in the Florida House of Representatives. In that time, he has taken up some of the hot-button issues of particular interest in the Black community.
In the last year, 33-year-old Jones became the face and voice for the Confederate monument protests. He led noon protests at Hollywood City Hall, and appeared on public a airs television shows to voice frustrations of a community. This session, he’s leading the charge to repeal the state’s controversial Stand Your Ground law.
Jones’ activism comes easily. He recalls from his years in middle school having dinner table conversations about current affairs with his father, Rev. Eric Jones, the mayor of West Park.
He added that he has a natural affinity for politics. In high school, he was voted Student Government Association president, and the thrill of the legislative process never waned.
Others outside his district have taken notice. Last December, the Miami-based gay-rights group SAVE gave Jones a Luminary Award, which honors local, young professionals for leadership and contributions in the LGBT community. Last summer, the Broward Urban League honored him with its Humanitarian Award. Also, the Florida Credit Union Association, an affiliate of the League of Southeastern Credit Unions & Affiliates (LSCU), recently named Jones as its 2017 State Lawmaker of the Year for his support of credit union initiatives.
In a release announcing the award, the LSCU president hailed Jones for being “accessible” to credit union advocates. “Representative Jones has served credit unions in Florida as a true champion,” said Patrick La Pine, president/CEO of the LSCU. “He has sponsored legislation to include credit unions in an exemption under the Florida Deceptive & Unfair Trade Practices Act and understands the critical role that credit unions play in Florida’s economy and in serving Floridians throughout the state.”
Even as the current session in Tallahassee reaches its peak, Jones already has ideas for his priorities for 2019.
Among his goals: getting state investment dollars to create economic zones in Black communities; funding to keep Black professionals in Florida, instead of the continual brain drain to cities such as Atlanta; and pursuing adequate funding for public schools.
“We’re still missing the mark on how we fund our schools, how we upkeep our schools and how we support our teachers,” Jones said.
To get the ball rolling, Jones said he will work with GOP colleagues on possible strategies. He plans to sit down this summer with fellow South Florida Rep. Jose Oliva, R-Miami Lakes, the incoming speaker of the House of Representatives. Leonard, the chief of staff , said Jones’ personable manner and advocacy work make him a favorite of residents outside of his district.
“He’s big on constituency issues, and he’s in the community doing so much,” Leonard said. “There’s so much he’s willing to do to help people. They think we’re superman.”