U.S.|St. Louis Elects Its First Black Woman as Mayor
Tishaura Jones became the first Black woman elected mayor of St. Louis on Tuesday and later this month will begin leading a city racked with a high homicide rate, disturbances at the city jail and challenges related to the pandemic.
Ms. Jones, the city’s treasurer, received about 52 percent of the vote over her opponent Alderwoman Cara Spencer’s nearly 48 percent, according to unofficial results posted to the city’s website. Ms. Jones will be sworn in on April 20.
Ms. Jones, a Democrat, did not immediately respond to a request for comment on Wednesday.
This was the first mayoral election under the city’s new election-law overhaul, known as Proposition D. It requires candidates to run without partisan labels, and the two candidates with the most votes in a primary in March would face each other in a general runoff election the next month.
In her victory speech, Ms. Jones reminded supporters of her campaign promises. “St. Louis, this is an opportunity for us to rise,” she said. “We are done ignoring the racism that has held our city and our region back.”
Ms. Jones pledged that she would not stay silent when she saw racism, homophobia, transphobia, xenophobia or religious intolerance, adding, “I will not stay silent when I spot any injustice.”
Transformational change would not be immediate, she said. “It will require a little patience, a little hard work, determination and the understanding that decades of problems would not be solved within days of solutions.”
Ms. Jones, a graduate of Hampton University, the Saint Louis University School of Public Health and Harvard University’s Kennedy School of Government, has spent the last 20 years as a public servant. In 2002, she was appointed as Democratic committeewoman of the Eighth Ward in the city of St. Louis, she served two terms in the Missouri House of Representatives, and she has served as the city’s treasurer since 2013, according to her campaign website. She ran unsuccessfully for mayor of St. Louis in 2017.
Ms. Jones will replace Lyda Krewson, the first woman to serve as the city’s mayor, who said last fall she would not seek a second term in office.
Ms. Krewson congratulated Ms. Jones on Twitter. “I am rooting for your success,” she said. “My administration and I are prepared to make this as smooth a transition as possible.”
When Ms. Jones takes office, she will face a list of challenges, including a rise in violence. Last year, the city saw its highest homicide rate in 50 years with 262 murders, five fewer than the record set in 1993. There have been 46 homicides so far this year, according to the St. Louis Police Department.
The city’s jail has also seen a growing number of disturbances in recent months, and on Sunday, inmates broke windows, set a fire and threw items onto the street below. A similar episode took place in February.
Ms. Jones campaigned on improving the city’s response to the pandemic and pursuing policies to improve its public health infrastructure. Mobile and stationary vaccination clinics would also be established under her lead.
As the city is promised more than $500 million from the American Rescue Plan Act, Ms. Jones also pledged relief for small businesses and those in need of rental and mortgage assistance.
“It’s time for St. Louis to thrive,” Ms. Jones said Tuesday night. “It’s time to bring a breath of fresh air to our neighborhoods.”