Tishaura Jones for Mayor
For nearly three decades, the city of St. Louis has had mayoral administrations whose unremarkable, sometimes mediocre performances have been among the reasons that the city has not been able to respond more effectively to its precipitous and steady decline. These mayors were far too committed to — or were indifferent towards — the harmful influence the “established order” in St. Louis brought to the overall well-being of the city and its people.
The city’s steep decline and persistent national shame have been bad for people and for business. This downward spiral we seem trapped in has prompted some of the region’s business and civic groups to come together as Greater St. Louis Inc., and present us with a bold plan to “create jobs, expand economic growth and expand St. Louis’ global competitiveness.”
These leaders accept one crucial, harsh reality: that the region’s future growth and prosperity are inextricably connected to the fortunes of its urban core, the city of St. Louis. They proclaim their support for a common vision and strategy that fosters “inclusive growth.” Moreover, they acknowledge the need for an alternative vision that includes more actual collaborations than we have seen in the past to address better the region’s challenges, as well as its opportunities.
A St. Louis American editorial endorsement for the next mayor of the city of St. Louis is not a decision based on a candidate’s personality or campaign rhetoric. It is largely based on their fitness for the office and their alignment with our newspaper’s values and its vision for a better future for St. Louis and all of its people. Over the years, the St. Louis American editorial policy has promoted that vision, particularly emphasizing the uplift of Black lives through progressive policies. One may take issue with our vision, but our supporters and detractors always know where we stand.
This vision has led us to our decision to endorse Treasurer Tishaura Jones for mayor. Jason Hall of Greater St. Louis Inc. has stated that this mayoral election is an inflection moment for the St. Louis region and that we need the highest caliber of leadership to meet the daunting challenges the region faces.
Treasurer Jones has demonstrated that she meets that measure. She has the intelligence, experience, and credibility across the city (she won 24 of the city’s 28 wards in her last re-election campaign). She has a great love of community, a robust national network that extends to the White House, and the energy to become an exceptional mayor of St. Louis at this historic moment.
Jones stands out from the mayoral field based upon a combination of her executive experience and her willingness to fight for issues she believes in regardless of their popularity. Since 2013, Jones has served as Treasurer for the City of St. Louis. Her job requires her to manage a staff of more than 100 employees and a $20 million budget. She has increased efficiency in office operations by introducing upgraded technology. Jones has modernized and increased the department’s earnings, while St. Louis parking operations have seen the number of parking tickets issued annually decrease. Jones has also embraced innovation by starting the Office of Financial Empowerment, as well as the College Kids Savings Program, which provides every kindergartner in a St. Louis public school district or charter school with a savings account. College Kids was the second municipal savings program in the country and has served as a model for programs launched by cities like St. Paul, Minnesota, New York City, and the State of Illinois.
In 2016, she was one of the first elected officials to make a sound fiscal as well as humane argument for the closure of the St. Louis Medium Security Institution known as the Workhouse. Board of Aldermen President Lewis Reed, meanwhile, was initially against closing the Workhouse. Next, he sponsored a bill to close the Workhouse, and most recently has reverted to keeping the Workhouse open. (Reportedly, the influential Carpenters union who oppose the jail’s closure has donated $100,000.00 to Reed’s mayoral campaign). Alderwoman Cara Spencer, Jones’ other opponent of note, initially opposed closing the Workhouse but has recently shown a change of heart.
St. Louis deserves a leader who consistently advocates for the concerns of the voiceless, even those who are poor and accused of crimes (most of whom are Black in the city of St. Louis). Jones’ platform wisely calls for examining the questionable fiscal practices of the St. Louis Police Department, and for altering the current Public Safety budget to shift funding towards more humane and effective approaches to mental health, substance abuse, and some of the other root causes of crime.
The St. Louis Post-Dispatch chose to endorse two candidates, current Aldermanic President Lewis Reed and Alderwoman Cara Spencer, despite their vastly different records. Reed has championed public funding for sports stadiums while Spencer sued the City to prevent tax dollars from being used to renovate the Enterprise Center. Reed was a strong supporter of airport privatization. Spencer was part of a grassroots effort opposing airport privatization.
Instead of endorsing two different candidates with unsatisfactory platforms and waffling policy visions, for us, the choice is clear: we strongly endorse Tishaura O. Jones for Mayor of St. Louis.
Darlene Green for Comptroller
In 2017 we endorsed Comptroller Darlene Green, but also urged her to “use more of her credibility and political capital in the future to align with sound policies for positive change.” She has as the city’s conscience and watchdog on several issues, including calls to Close the Workhouse and halt duplicitous efforts to promote airport privatization. This cycle, we encourage Comptroller Green to not only continue pushing back against imprudent fiscal decisions, but also promote forward-thinking budgetary investments in human capital. Because she is an experienced, incorruptible, and highly competent chief financial officer, we heartily endorse Darlene Green for Comptroller.