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St. Louis Elects First Black Female Mayor

April 8, 2021 by Dan McCue
St. Louis Elects First Black Female Mayor
Tishaura Jones waves while campaigning near a polling place on election day on April 6, 2021, in St. Louis.Laurie Skrivan / St. Louis Post-Dispatch via AP

St. LOUIS – Tishaura Jones, running on a promise to reform and revitalize her city, has become the first Black woman elected mayor of St. Louis.

As previously reported by The Well News, this year’s mayoral race featured a new, nonpartisan voting system that was approved by voters in November.

Under the new system, residents could vote for as many candidates as they wanted in municipal primaries and the top two vote-getters moved on to the general election.

On Tuesday, Jones defeated Alderwoman Cara Spencer in the general election by an unofficial margin of 2,280 votes, according to the city’s election board. She will be sworn in on April 20.

In her victory speech, Jones, currently the city’s treasurer, said she sees her election as “an opportunity for us to rise.”

“I told you when I was running that we aren’t done avoiding tough conversations. We are done ignoring the racism that has held our city and our region back,” she added.

In conceding to Jones, Spencer assured her “you have my support in making St. Louis the great city we know it can be.”

Jones comes into office amid the COVID-19 pandemic, two disturbances within two months at the city jail, a significant increase in homicides in 2020, and a population decline.

“As a city, we’ve been surviving. We’ve suffered disinvestments, decades of violence, broken promises from our city’s leaders, who have bowed to the will of special interests and insider dealings,” Jones said. “It’s time for St. Louis to thrive.”

In an appearance on MSNBC Wednesday night, Jones, a single mother, said she ran so that her 13-year-old son could walk safely across the street to visit his grandfather, “without being shot at or having a gun pointed at him, which has happened.”

In addition to curbing such violence, Jones said she is also committed to bringing jobs back to St. Louis, which has seens an exodus of residents in search of work in recent years.

“We need to provide opportunities for everyone to succeed, no matter their zip code, the color of their skin, who they love or how they worship,” she said.

Jones also pledged to disburse St. Louis’s share of federal funds in the latest COVID relief package, “with an eye towards equity.” 

Her priorities, she said, will be to use the funds for rental and mortgage assistance, expanding small business grants, setting up new emergency shelters, and mass vaccination clinics.

In another interview, this one on CNN, she said her approach to city policing will be to invest more in treatments for substance abuse and mental health disorders and routing certain 911 calls to social workers and other licensed professionals.

Jones first ran for mayor in 2017, narrowly losing in a crowded Democratic primary to current St. Louis Mayor Lyda Krewson. 

Krewson, the city’s first female mayor, announced last year she would not run for reelection and would retire at the end of her term.

Prior to being elected St. Louis’s treasurer, a post she’s held for eight years, Jones served two terms in the Missouri House of Representatives, during which she was the first Black woman selected to hold the position of assistant minority floor leader.

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