Ready To Lead: Chris Jones First Candidate for Governor in History to Meet with All State Agencies

November 2, 2022 – Campaign News

Ready To Lead: Chris Jones First Candidate for Governor in History to Meet with All State Agencies

Jones Does the Homework to Apply His Business and Nonprofit Executive Leadership to the State’s Biggest Existing Challenges

LITTLE ROCK, AR - Never has a candidate for Arkansas governor met with the heads of all the state agencies. But Chris Jones, Democratic nominee for governor, is a leader that does his homework. Over the summer, Jones met with the department heads and leaders of all 15 governor-appointed state agencies, and other semi-independent agencies. He also met with hundreds of educators, business leaders, health professionals, students, and policy experts.

This shows the significant effort Chris Jones has made to understand what it means to invest in Arkansas and his interest in the role of governor as service to the state, while his opponent Sarah Sanders has been largely absent from the Arkansas gubernatorial campaign and is reportedly eyeing a spot on a presidential ticket.

“Meeting with the state agencies is a critical step for our next governor to hit the ground running.” Jones said, “We need a governor who understands state agencies, who has listened to leadership and line staff, and who is well positioned to tackle the challenges faced by these agencies. The next governor needs to govern in service to the state. Even as a candidate, I have been showing up for Arkansans which is exactly what I will do as governor.”

While the role of the governor is partly legislative, the primary role is the executive. The governor runs the administration of the state, is responsible for fiscal management of the state, is commander in chief of the state national guard, has the power to grant pardons, is the primary economic promoter for the state, and oversees operations of state agencies. As part of overseeing state agencies, the next Governor is responsible for appointing Department heads of these state agencies as well as appointments to several hundred boards and commissions.

“Governor Hutchinson completely reorganized the system of Government agencies. The reorganization process moved our state from 42 agencies to 15 governor-appointed agencies. This reorganization combined several different departments,” Jones said. “This was a first step, but it’s clear that there is more work to be done to ensure efficiencies in state government and make sure that we are doing what we need to do as a state to effectively and responsibly distribute state and federal funds. The governor has an obligation to taxpayers to ensure fiscal responsibility and to make sure that state agencies are excelling in providing the services our state needs to be great.”

The next Arkansas governor faces substantial challenges, says Jones, with opportunities to address a mounting list of problem areas in the state, including community safety, education, infrastructure, economic development, and more. Jones provided the following reflections and goals for each state agency, indicating that there is a rich foundation upon which to build, some of the areas where he would explore once elected governor. A very limited subset of his reflections include:

Department of Agriculture
July 8, 2022

Climate change and extreme weather events are having an increasing impact on our agriculture industry, our state’s largest industry. We must prepare for floods, droughts, and extreme storms to protect our farms and farmers. Doing so will require a regionalized approach, increased mitigation and preparation efforts, and continued coordination with response efforts.

Department of Commerce
July 8, 2022

A central responsibility of the governor is to serve as the chief economic director of the state. This is done in direct collaboration with the Department of Commerce. Improving economic conditions across the entire state requires a deeper focus on the strengths of each region. It also requires an understanding of the needs of each region and a willingness to make the necessary investment. Commerce has made great strides and laid the foundation to accelerate the growth of new businesses (entrepreneurship), strengthen existing businesses (including small mom and pop shops) and attract new businesses.

Department of Corrections

July 21, 2022

Our jails and prisons are overcrowded. We must work to provide resources as protection for those who work in ADC and prisoners. More importantly, we must address root causes, including services for drug addiction and mental illness. Additionally, we have to decrease recidivism rates, which includes increasing opportunities for work and housing.

Department of Education

July 6, 2022

Improving education is one of the three main areas I want to make monumental progress as governor. The department itself has indicated that the most important lever to pull in order to address core challenges and move more rapidly towards providing excellent education for all.

To get there, we must expand access to Preschools, ensure that every 3rd grader is at reading level, and graduate high schoolers with a plan for a career—whether it is in the trades, 2-year degree programs, or 4-year degree programs. At every step of the way, we need teachers who are paid competitive wages, supported in the classroom, and incentivized so that no district, no matter how rural, is without teachers in the classroom. It’s clear that additional consolidation of schools would be detrimental to existing communities and there is no evidence that it would improve educational outcomes.

Department of Energy and Environment

July 20, 2022

Arkansas is the Natural State, not just because our landscape is beautiful, but also because our state is rich in natural resources. The Department of Energy and Environment can enable our state to continue with economic growth as we develop our advanced energy services and develop competitive tools to justly harvest our natural resources such as lithium.

Department of Finance and Administration

July 7, 2022

The Department of Finance is, among other things, the accounting arm for the state of Arkansas. They are responsible for ensuring that every dollar entrusted by the citizens of Arkansas, is used to maximum efficiency for the common good (all Arkansans). There is no clear pathway to eliminate the state income tax (55% of the state budget) and remain solvent as a state. Under my administration, they will be tasked with finding ways to streamline expenses to reduce the need for additional revenue—so that we can make room for less taxes, including on items like diapers and period products.

Department of Health

July 13, 2022

Over the last two years, our hospitals and health systems have been taxed with a major health crisis. There are several rural hospitals at risk of closure if we aren’t serious and thoughtful regarding the existing (and pending) crises. We need to make sure our hospitals and medical centers are appropriately equipped and staffed and that all Arkansans, even in rural zip codes, are able to access the healthcare they need.

Department of Human Services

August 2, 2022

The Department of Human Services does incredibly important work relevant to all of our communities. Their role has become increasingly more important over the health and economic crises of the past two years, and we must be creative in extending their resources. DHS needs to have more case workers and support for foster families to address the growing needs in foster care. Arkansas has been a leader in developing best practices for Foster Care, and we must continue to grow in this area. We must also address the challenges of Medicaid extension programs, decreased amounts of funds for eldercare, and developing clearer communications to Medicaid and Medicare applicants.

Department of Inspector General

August 24, 2022

The Department of the Inspector General holds those who interface with government funds accountable to use those funds appropriately. We need to ensure that this office continues to uphold the law, hold those in our state accountable to fiscal responsibility, and ensure that the state is not requiring onerous burdens on providers of resources.

Department of Labor and Licensing

August 18, 2022

One key way that Arkansas can begin to attract workers and service providers to our state is to reduce the cost and burdens associated with relocating. We need to examine processes of licensing in Arkansas to make sure that licensed workers from outside the state have an incentive to move here, like the state has done for nurses and military spouses. By reducing costs of licensing in Arkansas, while ensuring the safe standards we have now, our state can increase the amount of workers and service providers in our state, addressing worker shortages.

Department of the Military

July 8, 2022

Disaster preparedness is a key focus for the Department of the military. As climate change means increased numbers of natural disasters, the Department of the Military must maintain a plan to continue addressing the natural disasters and providing fundamentally needed services to those affected.

Department of Parks, Heritage, and Tourism

July 24, 2022

The Department of Parks, Heritage, and Tourism has done great work promoting our state—and taken advantage of a renewed national interest in outdoor recreation. Moving forward, we need to expand the work to enable broadband access at every Park (which will also help the state meet demand for rural broadband), as well as highlight heritage in more rural areas of the state.

Department of Public Safety

August 25, 2022

The Department of Public Safety provides a critical service to our state. To do their jobs effectively, we need to make investments that help them succeed at their jobs, including a new morgue and forensic lab, ensure that hospitals have what they need for rape kits (and are compensated for processing them), and invest in law enforcement so that officers have the resources and training they need to do their jobs safely.

Department of Transformation and Shared Services

August 25, 2022

Transformation was the effort of Governor Hutchinson to shrink the number of Departments from 42 to 15. This is a great first step, but there is more to be done to streamline efficiencies in our state, make sure each department has what it needs to succeed, and most importantly, increase opportunities for those in Arkansas.

Department of Transportation (ARDOT)

July 6, 2022

Roads, bridges, and transportation systems matter to everyone in Arkansas, and we must continue to grow how ARDOT engages communities and keeps our roads safe. ARDOT is also one of the few transportation departments nationwide to operate drones; As Governor, I would grow this program as an educational training/certification opportunity for our youth.

Department of Veterans Affairs

July 8, 2022

Approximately 90,000 of 200,000 Arkansas military veterans are being served. With an additional $500K/year, the Department of Veterans Affairs would have what is needed to serve the remainder.

It’s no surprise that Jones, who has earned five degrees including a PhD in urban studies and planning from the Massachusetts Institute of Technology, would study to prepare for the job. What surprises many is how he has managed this vigorous schedule, while also visiting all 75 counties of Arkansas with his Promise of Arkansas and Walk A Mile In Your Shoes tours, listening to voters and presenting priorities and plans for what he would do as governor to spread opportunity across Arkansas.

- 30 -


Dr. Chris Jones, the 2022 Democratic nominee for Governor of Arkansas, is a physicist, minister, educator, non-profit executive leader, father and husband. Chris, a Pine Bluff, Arkansas native, is a son of two preachers and was raised with a strong sense of faith. He attended Morehouse College on a NASA Scholarship for physics and math, then went on to study at MIT becoming a nuclear engineer and earning a Ph.D. in urban planning. After becoming ordained as a minister, Chris returned home to Arkansas and led the Arkansas Regional Innovation Hub. Through this work, he has seen firsthand how disparities within Arkansas have gotten worse, not better. He believes there is much room for growth, including improving public education opportunities in every community, strengthening infrastructure from roads to broadband access, protecting and securing our right to vote, and bridging the rural and urban divide. Chris has faith in Arkansas’s potential, and he is running for governor to ensure every person in Arkansas has an opportunity to succeed. Chris is the proud husband to Dr. Jerrilyn Jones, an emergency medicine physician and U.S. Air Force combat veteran who served in Afghanistan. Together, they are proud parents to three daughters. Connect with Dr. Jones at and @JonesForAR across social media platforms.


Related Articles