Chapter One: The Beginning
“I’m just a small town boy.” Those are the first words Tyler Jones uses to describe himself. “I never had any master plan or grand ambitions. I’ve always just been focused on trying to make the world a better place for our friends and families.”
Growing up in Ashland, Alabama, Tyler is indeed a small town boy. The rural Clay County city has a population of slightly over 2000 and is known mostly for its rich tradition of high school football. That’s not to say Ashland hasn’t made an impact on politics however. It’s the hometown of former Alabama governor Bob Riley, a man Tyler looked up to in his youth and whose legacy he very much respects. “Governor Riley made a huge impression on the direction I decided to go in life. Without him, I most likely would never have had any serious interest in politics.”
Enter politics Tyler did. Following his graduation from Auburn University in 2011, Tyler got a job working for attorney Ronald Harmon in his Ashland law firm while he studied for the LSAT in pursuit of a law degree of his own. Harmon, in addition to hitting it off immediately with Tyler through his sarcastic and charismatic nature, saw a bright mind in his young assistant. As a member of the Ashland City Council, Harmon insisted that Tyler accompany him on all city council business and even asked him to work on his 2011 reelection campaign. Tyler was instantly hooked on electoral politics and loved every minute of it. He even offered to defer law school to stay on with Harmon, who gently refused and insisted on Tyler completing his studies with an offer of employment when he passed the bar exam.
The next few years were a blur for Tyler. In addition to diligently focusing on obtaining his law degree Jones found time to volunteer with the local Republican party. He volunteered in the 2012 Presidential election on behalf of Mitt Romney, gaining valuable experience in the world of retail politics which he would later remember in his own elections. Following his passage of the bar, Jones did return to Ashland to rejoin Harmon in his practice and settle down and marry his high school sweetheart Anna. In 2014 he joined Harmon as a co-chair of Clay County for then-senator Fred Stacks’ victorious gubernatorial campaign.
Then in 2015 opportunity knocked. Jones remembers the day clearly even all these years later. “I was at my desk working on a will for a client; just a routine day at the office when Ronald (Harmon) came rushing in. ‘We have to talk immediately; we’re closing for the day and you and I are going fishing,’” says Tyler laughing. “This wasn’t necessarily uncommon. Ronald was always looking for an excuse to hit the lake to the point where I started keeping my gear in my truck. I thought it was another one of those days.”
The conversation that transpired over the course of the next few hours would change Tyler’s life forever. “I had just lost a big fish and was pretty frustrated,” Tyler says while shaking his head. “Ronald looked at me and said ‘Percival Williams is moving to Birmingham.’’’ Williams was then considered the rising star in Clay County politics. In 2011 Williams had won election to the Ashland City Council at just 20 years of age. “He’s not going to run for reelection and I know you live in that district. You need to go home and tell Anna that you’re running for city council and you need to tell her you’re going to win,” Harmon told Tyler. “That’s exactly what I did,” says Jones. “Well, minus the I’m going to win part,” he says with a grin. “The next day I went and filed my papers to run for the District One seat on the Ashland City Council.”