116 3rd St SE
Cedar Rapids, Iowa 52401
IOWA CITY — Redmond Jones II is looking forward to continuing his “learning quest” as the deputy city manager in Iowa City.
Jones, 54, comes to Iowa City with more than two decades of experience in local government, including work on police community relations, economic development, neighborhood services and sustainability.
He told The Gazette he’s looking forward to sharing that experience and also learning from his colleagues and the city’s 75,000 residents.
Jones joined Iowa City last September after being the city administrator in nearby West Branch for four-and-a-half years. He succeeded Ashley Monroe, who is now assistant village manager in Riverside, Ill.
“It just so happened that it all lined up right,” Jones said, adding that he and his wife, Kim, and three daughters — Jada Powell, 20, Maya, 11, and Shelby, 9 — were looking at moving to a larger community.
In announcing Jones’ hiring at an annual salary for $135,000, City Manager Geoff Fruin highlighted Jones’ experience, saying it will “really add a lot of value to our management team.”
Knocking on Las Vegas doors
Jones, a Cleveland native, worked as an intern for the city of Las Vegas in the early 1990s while pursuing his undergraduate degree at Cleveland State University.
He was among those knocking on doors in a predominantly Black neighborhood in West Las Vegas about the rebuilding of an area destroyed in riots that followed the police beating of Rodney King in Los Angeles.
The residents, he said, talked about the “distinct disparities” between the grocery store that was destroyed in a shopping mall and the same chain’s store in another part of the city. The store on the west side wasn’t kept up, and its prices were higher.
“(The grocery store) actually became a symbol of their frustration, even though they relied on it,” Jones said.
Residents also were frustrated about being overlooked for small business loans and other resources.
“We had to kind of lay all those things on the table and involve that in the future planning process of what the rebuilt shopping center can be,” he said.
Jones recalls being nervous one day while door-knocking when he had to maneuver around a fenced-in yard to reach the door.
An older woman opened the door. Jones prepared to go through his script. But as he started speaking, the woman started crying and hugged Jones, thanking him for coming.
“After that, I was like, ‘OK, this is what I want to do,’ ” Jones said.
“It just really drove home the impact that you can have on somebody's life for just doing the basics, … the smallest little thing,” Jones added. “You think it’s nothing, and it winds up being everything for someone.”
Jones said he returned to college “with more energy” and graduated with a degree in urban studies in 1995. He went on to get a master’s degree in public administration from the University of Kansas in 1997.
Missouri & Iowa
During the second year of his master's coursework, Jones was a management intern with the city of Fort Worth, Texas, where police community relations was one of his projects.
He became a personnel analyst in human resources with the city of Lee’s Summit, Mo., but missed getting out into the community. After three years, he became an assistant city manager in Temple, Texas.
One of his key jobs was helping bring back vacant land that had turned into a high-crime area.
“We led a multidepartmental approach, involving the police department, neighborhood services, the city manager's office, to try to take a holistic approach to bringing back our neighborhood,” Jones said.
After Texas, Jones worked for the city of Davenport for about eight years as assistant to the city administrator and affirmative action officer. While there, he helped with the city’s disparity study, the first conducted in Iowa, that found disparities in the city’s contracting with minority-owned and women-owned companies.
The study presented about 35 recommendations, with Jones helping implement six of the “bold” recommendations.
Jones, who said he’s always been entrepreneurial, left the Davenport job to start his own business, Dellmar Consulting. After four years of that, he became city manager in Groveland in north-central Florida.
Jones, the first Black city manager for the city of 10,000, worked on development projects, while minimizing environmental impacts, in the fast-growing city — work that was recognized by then-Gov. Rick Scott.
His time in Groveland, he said, was challenging, and he ended up being fired after questioning expenditures.
The Groveland City Council voted 3-2 to terminate Jones’ contract in 2016. The Orlando Sentinel reported the decision was in response to how Jones handled credit card charges made by the police chief.
Jones, who spoke openly about his Florida experience with The Gazette and the West Branch Times, said it was a frustrating situation.
West Branch work
After that experience, Jones and his family returned to Iowa, where he became the city administrator of West Branch in 2017.
In the four years he was there, Jones said, he helped gain voter approval for a hotel-motel tax, kept projects on budget and established a capital improvement levy.
Iowa City focus
In Iowa City, Jones will be keeping an eye on the city’s pilot program in offering Sunday bus service. He will be working on the future of the Senior Center and assisting with economic development.
He also has an interest in continuing to diversify the city’s workforce, as well as working on improving community relations with the police and fire department.
Also on Jones’ radar are the projects funded by Iowa City’s share of federal pandemic dollars from the American Rescue Plan Act. He complimented the city council’s “progressive nature” in using those funds for projects such as affordable housing, social justice and homelessness.
“That's something that, I believe, fits right into my way of looking at what government can do, especially (what) local government can do in the community,” Jones said. “I'm really excited to be part of that and rolling out that messaging, building relationships in the community.”
Comments: (319) 339-3155; email@example.com