Jessie Joe Jacobs, sometimes known locally as JJJ, is hoping to become the Tees Valley metro region’s first Labour Party mayor since the office’s inception in 2017, and the first female mayor in the country. Her lengthy and incredible pre-political résumé has gone unnoticed by a lot of people, which is why it is essential to — alongside her manifesto for the office she wishes to claim — distinguish the great things she has done before running for mayor, and the great things she plans on doing if she wins the election on May 6. Jacobs is fighting her battle against the Conservative incumbent Ben Houchen, who is reaching for re-election.
What do metro mayors do?
It’s probably good to get the foundations of her candidacy, this election, and why it’s happening in the first place, out of the way.
Metro mayors were created under the Cities and Local Government Devolution Act of 2016, and are basically one step down from the powerful devolved governments like those in Scotland, Wales, and Northern Ireland.
These mayors are directly elected by the public rather than a delegation or parliament, and are given the powers to control major local matters like housing, transport, planning, and certain aspects of policing. This helps local politicians with local knowledge pinpoint where money needs to go, rather than a central government investing money in a broader region which may not be as helpful for development, regeneration, or maintaining.
This election was intended to happen in May of 2020 but was postponed a year because of COVID and the severe epidemiological situation in the UK.
On Thursday, there are many other elections occurring around the country, including those for local council boards who decide marginal things like bin collection and libraries; other mayors — including the Mayor of London and Mayor of Greater Manchester who have control over larger portions of life; Police and Crime Commissioners, who oversee police forces regionally; other Parliaments and Assemblies such as those in Scotland, Northern Ireland, London, and the Senedd in Wales, with wide powers; and the Westminster by-election in Hartlepool (within the Tees Valley area) following the resignation of Labour MP Mike Hill.
What did Jacobs do before politics?
To start, the home of Jessie’s website lists at least six major achievements of hers: former CEO and co-founder of the charitable organization A Way Out— with seventeen years leadership experience, she adds; co-founder of The Tees Online, The Eclipse and I Love Stockton Me; and the Sunday Times’ social entrepreneur of the year.
Especially in the Stockton area, the charity Jacobs helped to co-found is quite a prevalent, important, and locally famous one. It is, ultimately, an aid for vulnerable women, families, and young folk in the nearby region, and helps people in issues ranging from poverty and lack of food to sexual assault and stalking.
In addition to the A Way Out charity, The Tees Online is a news site that seeks to positively exploit, make the best out of, and introduce new people to local events and places, including pubs, football fixtures, and golf clubs. The Eclipse is, this time, a paper news source that also seeks to do the same thing and push out the local story and stories that matter to residents of the Tees Valley; I Love Stockton Me was also a campaign to positively present Stockton-on-Tees and introduce people to the area, but was advertised on social media. It seems to have stopped posting on Facebook in November of 2020.
What’s on her manifesto?
Jessie Joe Jacobs will rebuild the region in a greener manner following the COVID pandemic and its massive blow on the Tees, will get under control the inequalities this region faces, and will — as aforementioned — stop the irreversible damage climate change will cause to our region.
She launched her manifesto in a Thornaby gaming room on March 31, joined remotely by the Mayor of Greater Manchester, Andy Burnham; the deputy Labour Party Leader, Angela Rayner; former Prime Minister, Gordon Brown; and Member of Parliament for Stockton North, Alex Cunningham.
She strives to draw tourists to the region. One of the ways JJJ wants to do this is to create a virtual theme park, complete with 4D rides and a £30m fund for local culture and tourism. She says this will raise Teesside’s profile on the national and international stage, create new state-of-the-art technological advances and create lots of new advanced jobs to boost the economy of the Tees Valley. Also created under her tenure would be a steel heritage museum in Redcar and a railway heritage center in Darlington, eventually pulling in a new 26,000 jobs for that sector.
On a blog about why people should elect her, Ms. Jacobs said that she wants to see the Tees Valley become an international leader in the green industrial revolution, which includes reforming the now-derelict SSI steelworks site in Redcar into a green energy park with battery-making gigafactories alongside wind turbines, hydrogen and a solar farm. She predicts this could create up to 20,000 jobs, if not more. This enormous bit of land would also see leisure developments built on it.
Another massive part of her manifesto is transport. Although the Conservative candidate and incumbent Ben Houchen has saved the airport from closure, arranging flights to Corfu (which can’t even be flown on because of COVID) while neglecting Teesside’s severely lacking transport systems, with the additional impact of selling it for far too much, is wrong. Jessie promises more bus and cycle routes, with a well-connected and affordable system and a scheme called Tees Travel, which fixes the bane of a lot of residents — it will allow people to use one ticket for multiple legs of travel around the region.
Other smaller projects, although still incredibly significant for lots of Teessiders, include — for vulnerable people — creating a child poverty commission and an investment in digital inclusion. Every house, according to Jessie, should also be installed with low-carbon technology; she will recruit and train an ‘army’ of 10,000 workers to do this job and improve the state and impact of global warming in our region. Finally, along with this, JJJ will create the ‘Get On’ scheme, which inspires residents to start new businesses and boost the regional economy and speed up our recovery for the better.
So.. why should you vote for her?
Jessie — and by extension, Labour — prioritises the green development and aid of vulnerable people everywhere, while Conservatives like Houchen only worry about the business and the money, as has been shown by the Tories in our region over-spending for the airport while giving no looks to the many parts of this region that see their bus services cut off at 6pm.
So, today, May the sixth, vote for Jessie and her Labour colleagues Matt Storey and Dr. Paul Williams who are running for Cleveland Police and Crime Commissioner and Hartlepool Member of Parliament respectively.
- ‘Labour’s Tees Valley mayoral candidate Jessie Joe Jacobs says ‘she was born to do this’’ —Chris Lloyd; The Northern Echo
- ‘Ben Houchen on the Tees Valley mayoral campaign: it’s all about the jobs’ — Chris Lloyd; The Northern Echo
- ‘Cities and Local Government Devolution Act 2016’ — UK Parliament
- ‘Everything you need to know about metro mayors’ — Centre for Cities
- ‘Postponement of May 2020 elections’ — GOV.UK
- ‘Local elections 2021: What time UK polls open today, how to vote and where to find the candidates in your area’ — David Hughes; inews
- ‘Mike Hill: Labour MP for Hartlepool resigns with immediate effect, triggering by-election in constituency’ — Chaplain, Chloe; inews
- ‘About Me’ — Jessie Joe Jacobs; Jessie4TeesValley
- ‘About Us’ — A Way Out
- ‘Why you should vote for me as mayor’ — Jessie Joe Jacobs; Jessie4TeesValley
- ‘Labour candidate launches mayor manifesto which would see Hartlepool get virtual theme park’ — Nolan, Laura; The Northern Echo
- ‘Ryanair flights to Corfu to take to the skies from Teesside Airport’ — Ben Houchen; Ben Houchen
- ‘Mayor faces criticism over scrutiny of Teesside Airport finances’ — Arnold, Stuart; The Northern Echo