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Wed Apr 7, 2021, 09:36 PM

St. Louis Elects Its First Black Woman Mayor, Progressive Tishaura Jones

St. Louis elected Tishaura Jones as mayor on Tuesday, making her the first Black woman and the first single mother to fill the role. But this isn’t the first time Jones has made history: She’s been St. Louis’s treasurer since 2013, when she became the first Black woman to hold that position; and while serving two terms in the Missouri House of Representatives, she was Missouri’s first Black woman to be assistant minority floor leader. According to unofficial results from the St. Louis Board of Election Commissioners, she received 2,280 more votes than her opponent, alderwoman Cara Spencer, winning 51.7% compared with Spencer’s 47.8%.

Jones, who lost her 2017 bid for mayor by 888 votes in the Democratic primary, is replacing the incumbent to whom she had previously lost, Lyda Krewson, who didn't run for a second term. After being sworn in, Jones will face St. Louis’s highest homicide rate in 50 years; repeated uprisings at one of the city’s jails, the City Justice Center, as detainees have been demanding court hearings during the COVID-19 pandemic; and the city’s struggling economy. "While I appreciate the role of white allies in this movement of progress, I don't believe that they have the lived experiences to lead a majority-minority city," Jones said during a recent debate. A "white person doesn't have to worry about their children getting hit by a stray bullet when he's outside," she said. According to 2019 Census estimates, the city, which remains heavily segregated by race, is 48% white and 45% Black.

Jones has pledged to reallocate money to substance abuse and mental health needs in conjunction with restructuring the police department. She is also promising to close north St. Louis’s jail, known as the Workhouse, and to address the uprisings at the City Justice Center jail within her first 100 days. “We have constantly increased our police budget over the last several decades and crime keeps getting worse,” Jones recently told The Appeal. “We cannot keep throwing money at the same thing and expect different results.” Jones reemphasized her platform and plans for the future during her victory speech on Tuesday night, saying, “I will not stay silent when I spot racism. I will not stay silent when I spot homophobia or transphobia. I will not stay silent when I spot xenophobia. I will not stay silent when I spot religious intolerance. I will not stay silent when I spot any injustice."

With her win, Jones joins St. Louis comptroller Darlene Green and Board of Alderman president Lewis Reed on the city’s three-seat Board of Estimate and Apportionment. This is the first time the board will consist only of Black leaders, according to St. Louis Public Radio.


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