St. Louis fell 888 votes short of dramatic change in the Democratic primary on Tuesday, March 7.
That was the margin that separated Tishaura O. Jones – who was endorsed almost unanimously by local, state and national progressive organizations – from Lyda Krewson, who was endorsed by Mayor Francis G. Slay, the four-term incumbent she will almost certainly replace as mayor after the April 4 general election.
With all precincts reporting, Krewson had 32.04 percent of the vote to Jones' 30.38 percent — 17,110 to 16,222 votes.
They each nearly doubled the respective vote totals of the other major candidates. Lewis Reed garnered 9,775 votes (18.3 percent) and Antonio French got 8,460 votes (15.8 percent). A trio of perennial candidates split about 3 percent of the vote between them.
“The status quo won,” state Senator Jamilah told her fellow supporters of Jones at the election watch party that Jones co-hosted with Megan Ellyia Green, who won her 15th Ward aldermanic primary, at ShiSha in the Grove.
“But I want to thank each and every one of you for understanding that we need to see change. And, unfortunately, the African-American people had to divide their vote. You had some individuals that knew they couldn’t win who divided the vote. They knew they were not able to bring home a victory and still decided to divide the vote of the African-American community. Hold those people accountable.”
Jones also spoke to the question of a split black vote in her remarks to supporters.
“Everyone kept saying, ‘Why don’t all the black people get together? Why don’t you have a meeting?’ Well, you know what, we did. And you know what happened at that meeting: The women decided to come together and support each other,” Jones said, referring to Nasheed’s decision to endorse Jones rather than file for mayor after Jones, Reed and French said they would run.
All told, 68 percent of voters who went to the polls cast a vote against the victor, Krewson. Only 55,635 people voted, or 28.36 percent of registered voters. Krewson won the election that essentially determines St. Louis’ next mayor with the votes of less than 10 percent of all registered voters in the city.
Jones, who retains her citywide elected position of treasurer, vowed to continue leading a progressive movement for change in the city.
“I don’t want you to think this is the end,” she told her supporters at her election watch party, after conceding to Krewson. “I’m not sad, no, because I’m going to tell you all what we’re going to do next. What did we do through this campaign? We turned this electorate on its head. I want us to stay united and stay connected, because we are the force that’s going to hold this next administration accountable.”
In her victory speech, Krewson zeroed in on her key campaign issue: public safety.
“Neighborhood safety is job one," she said. "Far too many families know the pain of violent crime. We’ll invest in prevention programs that work, and in more and better training and a more diverse police force.”
In his concession speech to Krewson, Reed told his supporters, “It’s going to be so important that we work with her to begin changing our city.”
Reed retains his citywide position as president of the Board of Aldermen. With the next mayor and Comptroller Darlene Green, who easily won her primary on Tuesday, he still has one of three votes on the city’s chief fiscal body, the Board of Estimate & Apportionment.
French, who ran for mayor rather than reelection as 21st Ward alderman, told supporters as he conceded, “The campaign we ran was about a message of bringing our city together to make sure we start looking at the entire city, and I hope that is something that will continue in the next administration.”
In the Republican mayoral primary, utility executive Andrew Jones handily beat out his two competitors — one of whom, Crown Candy Kitchen owner Andy Karandzieff, had said he entered on a whim and didn't really want to be mayor.
Krewson and Andrew Jones move on to the April 4 general election, where they'll face at least five candidates from other parties.
This relies on reporting from Clark Randall and St. Louis Public Radio.