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UWEC Prof Roderick Jones Picked to Fill Vacant EC City Council Seat

council work ‘not for the faint of heart,’ appointee says

Tom Giffey, photos by Andrea Paulseth |

Rising to the top from an initial field of 12 applicants, Roderick Jones, an assistant professor at UW-Eau Claire, was chosen to fill a vacancy on the Eau Claire City Council.

Jones will be sworn in at the June 21 council meeting, and will serve in the at-large seat through April 19, 2022. If he wishes to keep the seat after that, Jones will have to run for a regular three-year term in the April 5, 2022, election.

The vacancy was created in April when Councilmember Mai Xiong announced she was resigning approximately one year into her term.

Jones will become the second Black person to serve on the City Council in Eau Claire’s history.

The Eau Claire City Council voted on Tuesday, June 8, to appoint Jones. The previous day, they heard short presentations from nine applicants at their Monday, June 7, meeting. (Three additional applicants had withdrawn their names from consideration.)

In his presentation, Jones cited the “breadth and depth” of his experience serving the interests of students, businesses, and communities ranging from small rural towns to complex inner-city school systems to UW-Eau Claire, where he teaches in the Special Education and Inclusive Practices Department and co-chairs the Center for Racial and Restorative Justice.

I understand the work this council engages in is not for the faint of heart, nor is it merely obligatory. It requires deep and abiding dedication. It requires someone with a diverse ranges of experiences capable of connecting with community members whose needs are many.

dr. roderick jones

INCOMING EAU CLAIRE CITY COUNCILMEMBER

Before coming to UWEC in 2019, Jones spent nearly 20 years working as a teacher, behavior specialist, and instructor in Florida at the elementary, middle, high school, and community college levels. He holds a doctorate in Educational Leadership and Policy Studies from the University of South Florida.

“I understand the work this council engages in is not for the faint of heart, nor is it merely obligatory,” Jones told the council Monday. “It requires deep and abiding dedication. It requires someone with a diverse ranges of experiences capable of connecting with community members whose needs are many. It requires someone who understands the urgency of acting responsibly toward environmental and criminal justice, toward providing residents safe, functional, and accessible public transportation and infrastructure. Toward appreciating the humanity and securing affordable housing and child care for families. Toward helping residents find and maintain employment so they can take care of their families with dignity.

“Additionally,” Jones said, “this role requires someone who values the importance of working with council members and staff to foster a policy environment that is collegial, inclusive, respectful, and engaging.”

Jones told council members that when he made an initial presentation to them several weeks earlier, his 4-year-old daughter had watched online. When she saw her father speaking, Jones said, “My daughter pointed at the screen and said, ‘Mom, I want to work there.’”

“Growing up, I did not see myself in such spaces. They were difficult to aspire to for reasons told and many unstated.”

DR. RODERICK JONES

INCOMING EAU CLAIRE CITY COUNCILMEMBER

“Spaces like this, spaces of decision-making, of leadership, of service, are spaces that I want her to see herself in as she grows up and navigates our community,” Jones said. “Growing up, I did not see myself in such spaces. They were difficult to aspire to for reasons told and many unstated.

“I stand proudly before you today, recognizing that I am but a vessel. I believe I’ve been called to take personal responsibility to use my talents and my skills to make our community, our nation, and our world a better place. I stand here today with the utmost humility asking for your support to serve our community in this distinguished capacity, because as a member of this council, I believe I can make an immense difference to serving your future and current residents of this vibrant city of Eau Claire.”

Before voting, council members lauded the talents and leadership abilities of the applicants, especially Jones and Dang Yang, director of the Office of Multicultural Affairs at UW-Eau Claire. “Both are energizers in the community,” said Councilmember John Lor.

After an initial round of voting in which seven councilmembers chose Jones and three picked Yang, the council voted unanimously to approve a resolution appointing Jones.