Jon Jones, champion of direct democracy, draws inspiration from Reddit in fight against Councilman Kwanza Hall

‘Kwanza Hall has ideas...but there’s a limit to what one man can come up with’



By many accounts, Atlanta City Councilman Kwanza Hall has represented Midtown, Old Fourth Ward, Castleberry Hill, and other surrounding neighborhoods rather well since taking office in 2005. But Jon Jones, his latest challenger, thinks that District 2 could adopt an even better approach this November: direct democracy.

“To be perfectly honest, I credit Hall with great work,” he says. “If this was a world where I couldn’t make decisions for myself, Kwanza Hall would be a perfectly acceptable person to make all my decisions for me.”

The 26-year-old pricing analyst, who first moved to Atlanta in 2010, says he first became fascinated with direct democracy - the concept that people vote on every policy decision, not just for elected officials - when he studied public policy at UCLA. He says the idea of individuals governing themselves instead of electing leaders just made sense.

“How could this be applied to a real government?” he says. “Technology would have to be a crucial part of that. Fundamental to a direct democracy is getting everyone to put their ideas together and vote on what they want to see happen.”

Last July, Jones started laying the groundwork for his campaign against Hall. The concept prompted Jones to develop the Atlanta Direct Democracy Interface, a website that he says combines elements of Wikipedia and Reddit. If elected, he says, constituents would use the platform to vote on city proposals as well as submit their own ideas.

It’s a constantly changing collection of community ideas... a living, breathing illustration of the people’s voice,” says Jones.