PALM COAST, Fla. - Sims Jones, a local pastor and three-time candidate for the Palm Coast City Council, has died at the age of 67 according to those close to him. Jones was fighting severe medical ailments for months, and spent much of 2023 hospitalized.
Jones was known to many in Palm Coast as a pastor with God's Love Ministry, often streaming his sermons on Facebook live after the onset of the COVID-19 pandemic. He also became familiar for his political activism, having become involved soon after moving to Palm Coast from New York. Jones served with the Flagler County NAACP, the Flagler Area Ministerial Association, the G.W. Carver Foundation and the Medical Reserve Corps of Flagler County.
The first attempt by Jones to win elected office came in 2016, when he ran for Palm Coast City Council. Jones competed against incumbent Bob Cuff and fellow challenger Arthur McGovern, placing third among the group. As Cuff secured over 50% of the vote in the primary, Jones did not advance to the general election.
Jones' second campaign came in 2020, when he ran again for City Council. Like in 2016, he was in pursuit of the District 1 seat, now without an incumbent candidate following Cuff's decision not to run again. This time Jones, a Democrat, faced off against Republican Ed Danko, who ultimately won the seat. Their first face-off was on the primary election ballot, with Lou Salvagio placing third and falling off. Danko won both contests.
The third time Jones ran for office was in 2022. Since he had moved into another City Council district following the 2020 election, Jones was able to run two years early, this time for the seat being vacated by an outgoing John Fanelli. He was up against Theresa Carli Pontieri, Alan Lowe, and Shauna Kanter in a four-way primary contest. Kanter hardly campaigned and finished fourth, while Pontieri and Lowe advanced to the general over Jones. After this election, Jones stated to those who knew him that he was likely done running for political office. "Sims was a kindly soul who would help anybody," said Mike Cocchiola, a fellow Democratic activist and friend of Jones on Facebook. "He will be sorely missed."
“He was an inspiration,” added Elisabeth Gustafson, a friend and partner of Jones’ in local activism. “He never ever gave up, and always used his voice for the greater good. There were times when people told him to tone it down and he didn’t because he knew there was more at stake.”
Sims Jones is survived by his wife, Phillipa, and his two daughters and one son. The Jones family has generally withheld the exact nature of his ailments since Jones was first hospitalized earlier this year, and so the exact circumstances of his passing are still being kept private as of Monday afternoon.