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Krewson Wins St. Louis City Democratic Mayoral Primary

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With her victory in the city’s Democratic mayoral primary, longtime 28th Ward Alderwoman Lyda Krewson has the inside track to becoming the next mayor of St. Louis. Traditionally, the winner of the Democratic primary coasts to victory in the April general election.

[Full primary results posted below]

Krewson’s margin of victory was just 888 votes over City of St. Louis Treasurer Tishaura Jones, a difference of just 1.66% (32.04% to 30.38%) with a total of 53,398 votes cast. President of the Board of Aldermen Lewis Reed followed with 18.31% and 9,775 votes. Reed garnered 44.27% of the vote in 2013 in what was basically a two-man contest with then-three term incumbent mayor Francis Slay.

21st Ward Alderman Antonio French earned 15.84% with 8,460 votes, and 22nd Ward Alderman Jeffrey Boyd collected 2.68% and 1,429 votes. The tight margin is likely to foster further discussion of racial voting patterns in the city that is 49% African American and 44% white. Krewson was the only white candidate to mount a serious campaign, while Jones, Reed, French, and Boyd are all black.

The inevitable “what-ifs” may focus on race, but perhaps a larger discussion on the election process can occur. There are several options if there is a will to change the system. The city could go to a non-partisan mayoral contest, placing the more meaningful vote with the general election and not as a primary. The city could also adopt a run-off process where the two top vote getters in the primary face one another in the general. Or, if no candidate achieves 50% of the primary vote, a run-off occurs. There are options, though no one’s likely to get rich betting on the system changing soon.

Regardless, this is the process followed, and the machinations engaged in by the city’s dominant political party. While independent and other party challengers will be on the ballot in April, Krewson is nearly certain to become the next mayor, and first woman to hold that office in the city’s 253 years.

The city’s political system does not foster high-profile city-wide candidates. Alderman are elected to represent 1/28 or 3.6% of the city. They are rewarded for putting the interests of those approximately 10,000 people ahead of others when necessary. Aldermen often win office with a few hundred votes. In a less nefarious interpretation, aldermen are not rewarded for thinking and acting outside their ward.

Krewson has represented the city’s 28th ward since 1997, having been re-elected to the post five times. The neighborhoods on the 28th, Wydown-Skinker, Skinker-DeBaliviere, DeBaliviere Place, and the Central West End, have never been among the city’s most downtrodden, but it wasn’t long ago that the Chase Park Plaza was boarded up and vacant buildings were a common sight.

The area, with little vacancy, expensive rents, and significant new development, is considered by most to the city’s poshest district. Whatever role Krewson has played in the area’s increasing affluence, her new challenge will be to turn investment toward all city neighborhoods, examine the development incentives, and foster success elsewhere.

Hear mayoral frontrunner Krewson in her own words on NEXT STL’s Future Great City podcast:

Krewson, the chief financial officer of PGAV Architects, was first elected to the city’s Board of Aldermen in 1997 in a special election. She has been re-elected five times, more recently in 2015. The 28th Ward encompasses parts of the six city neighborhoods: Central West End, DeBaliviere Place, Hi-Pointe, Skinker-DeBaliviere, West End, and Wydown-Skinker.

Krewson earned an education degree from Truman State University, and an accounting degree from the University of Missouri-St. Louis. She is currently the Chair of the Transportation & Commerce Committee, and serves on the Airport Commission and Port Authority.

________________  

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  • Alex Ihnen

    FYI – here are more numbers and maps to add to the mayoral primary election discussion:

    https://nextstl.com/2017/03/understanding-st-louis-democratic-mayoral-primary-results-2017/

  • mc

    I’m happy Krewson was elected. Tishaura Jones would have been devastating to our economy. At least Krewson supports the police and the police support her. Slay did a ton of great things for our city and encouraged gentrification in the all parts of the central corridor. He was not perfect but the best option out there. Krewson is not perfect but the best option we have at the moment. We’ll solidify the central corridor and then push north of Delmar. On another note, Andrew Jones, a black man running for Republican is a great thing. I hope that the Post takes him seriously and I hope St Louis takes him seriously as well.

    • Adam

      Please explain how (Tishaura) Jones would have been devastating to our economy. I’m not necessarily opposed to Krewson, but I’m opposed to unfounded statements about Jones. I really don’t see how Krewson is any more qualified than Jones.

      • HawkSTL

        Tishaura is against hiring more police. Every downtown business (see Brown & Croupin) wants a lot more police, cameras, and security. Tishaura is against charter schools, saying she would do nothing to influence the school board’s lawsuit to claw back all money that has gone to charter schools. That hurts every family with children in the City, even if you don’t use charter schools. There would be less options. Tishaura is against the City/County merger because the County needs to get its act together first with consolidation of small municipalities. Of course, the small municipalities largely work independently from the County in terms of trash, street maintenance, and many have separate police. So, huh? What does that have to do with the City becoming another municipality in the County? Answer: nothing. The people saying Tishaura has great ideas? I haven’t heard any, and I’ve seen her live on the campaign circuit. We dodged a bullet.

        • Adam

          Still doesn’t answer my question. Where’s all that additional police and camera money going to come from, by the way? She supports reforming the charter school model and evaluating their performance in addition to adequately funding public schools. And she’s not opposed to a merger. She called for an “incremental approach” (which is the best we’re going to get regardless of who is mayor). In addition she’s for consolidation and modernization of city government, which she’s already started doing as Treasurer. So what are Lyda’s groundbreaking ideas?

          • Roger Mexico

            Aside from my objections to the city treasurer office being a independent fiefdom, I wasn’t impressed by what Tishaura advertised as her best, most groundbreaking idea (Office of Financial Empowerment and its program of adding $50 to a college fund for city kindergartners). It’s a token amount insufficient to change behaviors, and there are literally thousands of more effective ways to spend that money during early childhood.
            I also don’t think her approach to development is the most effective (negotiating community benefit agreements, living wage requirements, etc.). It’s far more straightforward to just try to generate as much earnings and property tax as you can for the city (admittedly Lyda and other alderman have failed on this point).

          • Adam

            Tishaura didn’t make the Treasurer’s office a fiefdom, though. It’s been that way for a long time. And the college fund is one element. If you don’t think her approach to development would be effective that’s a fine opinion but realize it’s just that until she gets a chance to demonstrate whether or not it works.

          • HawkSTL

            It does answer your question. Business and conventions leave without feeling that there is security. How many have already left for Clayton? It is largely a perception problem, but the issue is real. No viable school choices? Then less workers who want to commute downtown. People naturally want to work closer to home. I saw Tishaura at a speech and Q&A. She’s against the merger. Meanwhile, Stenger was at Lyda’s victory party. That’s not just perception either.

          • Riggle

            How many conventions have left for Clayton? Zero

          • HawkSTL

            Cute. Business = Clayton (Centene pulling out of ballpark village and Armstrong move). Conventions = elsewhere (even St. Charles cannibalizes downtown, like the competing boat/outdoor show – but most larger ones choose another Midwest locale (like Indianapolis)).

          • Riggle

            Cute, which ones left for st Charles?

          • HawkSTL

            An example is in the post to which you responded. St. Charles also brags about it. It is not shy about stealing shows . . .

          • Adam

            Again, where is that police money going to come from and what are Lyda’s groundbreaking ideas?

          • HawkSTL

            The budget is already there to hire 100 more officers (they actually need 200 more, so the funding for the extra 100 needs to be found). So, in terms of immediacy, they can hire right now with the present budget. Post-Ferguson, applications are down. So, that’s the reality. It’s not an immediate budget problem until you get past the first 100 new hires.

          • Adam

            And what about the police cameras? How many of those 100 officers are going to police downtown? And again, what is groundbreaking about Lyda’s platform? What is she going to do different than Slay has done for the past 16 years?

          • HawkSTL

            Haven’t seen the language yet, but my understanding is that police cameras are up for a vote in the April general election. Paid for by eliminating the recorder of deeds office and combining it with one of the other offices that provide similar services (license collector perhaps). So, again, that can be dealt with immediately. Like it or not, it is a concrete plan.

          • Adam

            So where is that plan written down?

          • HawkSTL

            I don’t understand the question. It will be on the ballot in April. Check with the STL elections board if you want to see the language. I’m waiting to weigh in until I see the actual language.

          • Adam

            Is it detailed at all on her campaign site? I haven’t looked.

          • HawkSTL

            As I’ve not looked at Lyda’s campaign site, I don’t know. But, it’s on the next ballot.

          • Adam

            And again and again and again, what is novel about the rest of her platform?

          • HawkSTL

            More police, cameras and body cameras should have been done a long time ago. But, the Board of Alderman simply haven’t passed it. But, instead of assisting with recruitment (where there is existing money), turning back over sizeable ward slush funds (yes, each Alderman has a discretionary fund), and doing the body camera proposition earlier (why wait until now?), they have done nothing. What is novel? Nothing, other than there is a real chance of executing the plan now. It doesn’t need to be novel to work and be effective.

          • Adam

            My point is that people keep bashing Tishaura’s platform but Lyda’s offers nothing new. It reads like the standard list of promises. We’ll see what she accomplishes.

          • HawkSTL

            I had an open mind until I heard her. Being against the things I listed are dealbreakers. She lost my vote, and she’s probably lost it for even treasurer next time.

          • Alex Ihnen

            And it’s not clear that STL City is understaffed with police officers. IMO – it’s the simplest (though I can’t prove it’s wrong) knee-jerk reaction to simply hire more police.

          • HawkSTL

            Alex, it is clear. Every single City police officer is working regular overtime nearly every week and have done so for the past 2 1/2 yrs. Just ask them. They are ticked off with the work load, and that too is hurting recruitment and accelerating retirements. The size of the force is small as compared to a decade ago.

          • Alex Ihnen

            I believe you. I should have been more clear. It’s not clear that more police = less crime. It’s also not clear that St. Louis has a shortage of police officers compared to similar cities.

          • HawkSTL

            More police do not automatically reduce crime because you have to use the resources effectively and implement a plan. But you need to be fully staffed and may need more to implement a plan. Right now, there are simply not enough staff to even implement the existing plan. That’s the reason for all of the overtime. So, the force is both overworked and does not have enough resources.

          • rgbose

            She said some sort of merger could happen once the city and county got their houses in order. A recipe to wait forever. The statement also ignores that fragmentation contributes to the houses not being in order. If somehow the houses got dramatically better then the excuse would be “things are fine. Qhy change them?”

            She said she’d like to see a plan before endorsing, which is reasonable. I want a mayor who is going to work on a plan. I thought Lyda would do that, and comments from her and Stenger give me optimism.

        • Adam

          Oh, maybe we could have hired more police with all the taxpayer money that Lyda wanted to throw away on a crappy stadium deal. She opposed even allowing a vote, whereas Jones opposed the deal.

    • Kasey Henton

      “We’ll solidify the central corridor and then push north of Delmar.”

      Pardon my frankness, but white people have been saying this for 60 years and it hasn’t happened yet. There is no reason to believe that it will happen now.

  • Jakeb

    I don’t find any wisdom in merely opposing ‘the status quo’. Donald Trump certainly represents a break from the status quo which is something his supporters found appealing.

    Lyda is very bright and has a tremendous amount of experience in working through difficult issues. Today, more than ever, I see the value in public policy experience. I’m excited to see her get a chance to lead the City and very hopeful. I’ve seen her over the years change her opinion on issues in a positive and progressive way and am confident she will pivot easily from the 28th Ward to adopt a broad city wide view. .

    I’m a fan of both Tishaura Jones and Antonio French. They both have bright futures in this City.

    We’ll see.

    • Alex Ihnen

      This seems like a reasonable view. IMO – it’s not fair to assume Lyda represents a 5th Slay term. She’s very clearly her own person. That said, Jones represented what would have been a welcome break with the current political power structure. Which outcome would prove best for the city is unanswerable, but let’s all hope needed changes are on the way.

      • Jakeb

        The older I get, the longer my view becomes. I remain convinced Tishaura Jones will become the Mayor in time assuming she still wants the job. She’s very bright and will bring a lot of fresh ideas. As the daughter of long time City politician and former City comptroller Virvus Jones, I’ve never really viewed her as an ‘outsider’.

  • rgbose

    It’ll be interesting to see how turnout varied across the city, in both percentage and votes cast. Like high turnout in Ward 23 despite an uncontested aldermanic race.

  • Michael B

    Second round runoffs seem like the best solution. No one should be mayor with less than a third of the people who showed up to vote.

    • HawkSTL

      Second round runoffs only reinforce and strengthen one party rule. It has driven California further to the left. You lose competent candidates for the extreme fringe. If the rest of MO would follow that model, we’d come closer to real fascists. STL would have socialists running things. No thanks.

  • Riggle

    Pathetic showing for Krewson against a divided field. Reed sunk Tishaura, but its her fault for not finding a way to get him outta the race… oh well, more of the status quo, which is working so well for this City.

    • David

      I kinda think people need to lay off the status quo thing now that the election is over. It is a political buzz word, but not actually useful for describing the situation. The article points out that in the last 15 years our “status quo” has changed in a positive way. Yeah all of us reading this website want it to get better, but we sound pretty ignorant if we pretend that things aren’t improving in the city, even if not at the rate or in the ways we would always prefer.

      • stldoc

        I agree David. The last 15 years have been some of the best for the city in the last 50 years. Far from perfect but in many areas we are finally moving in the right direction. Charter schools have been successful in creating new quality choices for parents throughout the city while the SLPS have regained full accreditation and continue to improve. Lyda will not disrupt this “status quo” progress which is important. I’ve worked with Lyda on a few issues in our neighborhood and have gotten to know her quite well. She is smart, experienced, compassionate and probably most importantly wants to hear from all sides on issues to find balanced and problem focused solutions. Lyda is also organized and runs a tight ship, which is incredibly important for local government to run efficiently, work with the business community and do things like win competitive federal grants for the city. I also believe it is hugely important for this region to aggressively reduce inefficiencies and increase collaboration and I am encouraged that Stenger was at Lyda’s victory party. I have to admit, in my perfect liberal world I would have preferred our next Mayor to be a minority and maybe a little more hip than Lyda (sorry Lyda). But that aside I think Lyda is going to be a solid mayor and I hope the other candidates work with her rather than beginning their 2021 mayoral campaign now.

        • Adam

          “I agree David. The last 15 years have been some of the best for the city in the last 50 years.”

          good for the central corridor maybe. meanwhile, south city and north city have continued to decline.

          • STLrainbow

            Exactly. I understand David’s p.o.v. but to counterpoint what progress that we have enjoyed here — and there certainly has been some — has been limited in geography and is largely the result of national trends favoring urban living to a greater extent than before…. these forces are in play just as strongly in peers such as Buffalo, Cleveland, Detroit and Pittsburgh as they are here and aren’t a result of savvy leadership.

            The leadership status quo otoh hasn’t been able to do much in terms of addressing the many pressing challenges facing our many struggling neighborhoods, most of which continue to decline. We really have three cities here, a growing Central one, a declining Northern one and a mixed bag in the South.

          • David

            And people who visit this site know that you don’t magically get projects out of an area just by waving money at them. We are often left with what developers will propose and then try to bend it to the community as much as possible.

            The proposals other than McKee for the North side might save blocks, but not the whole region. At least they tried something with McKee. None of the both sides of Delmar candidates had anything other than redirecting money in their plans for how that will develop like the central corridor.

            Doing what the rest of the country was with regards to the central corridor was a good thing for St. Louis. We have to tweak these things for ourselves, but too often St. Louis fails to put up its sails when the wind is blowing in the way of Midwest cities. We did this time and some big positive things have happened because of it.

            Status quo is meaningless when applied haphazardly to such a picture of urban regrowth. Otherwise criticisms of how our current administration has handled crime can be explained away as part of a national trend too (which it is admittedly a part of).

            Central corridor has turned around and we are proud of the direction it is going, it is still an inferior urban core and we all know it. Demonizing it is political fodder and not really useful as far as an actual urban plan.

          • STLrainbow

            I’m not demonizing the city’s growth in the Central Corridor; if anything, I think it lags behind what our Rust Belt peers are doing given the deeper hole they had to come from. What I am concerned about is the lack of progress in addressing serious issues in our neighborhoods. That’s the compelling issue that our next mayor will face,

          • HawkSTL

            There are 3 blueprints for how the city can and should grow and reverse trends – the central corridor, Tower Grove/South Grand, and STL Hills. Nothing big happens overnight, but construction cranes do appear overnight. Wherever you live Adam, I hope that they appear in your neighborhood soon and everywhere else that hasn’t seem them yet.

          • Alex Ihnen

            Decline is a soft interpretation. They’ve absolutely hemorrhaged jobs and residents. The north side has been in a freefall, with much of the south side not far behind.

          • stldoc

            Very true Alex and poverty and its side effects are at the center of the neighborhoods in free fall. Our relatively tiny city bears an enormous share of the region’s poor with generational poverty being at the heart of most of Saint Louis’s problems. No matter who is the mayor, our city simply lacks the resources to properly tackle poverty and unfortunately the needed partners across our region, in Jeff City and now the federal government are bending over backwards do as little as possible to help these people and neighborhoods. One area of promise is our improving schools, which will be critical in helping break the cycle of poverty.

  • InformedGuest

    I see your parochial point and the incentive structure that alderpersons have.

    I favor a second round run off for the top two candidate to force the primary winner to have a majority (50% + 1) rather than just a plurality (most votes). It’s good though to see the top 2 candidates were women. That’s a big change for 1950s St. Louis.

    Next time, the black candidates should consider pulling under just 1 black candidate, the strongest one, like Tishaura. That way, they would most likely win in a city that is 49% Black. It’s a shame that the black vote split amongst the four–Jones, Reed, French, and Boyd. We are not beyond race in this city so that is probably the best strategy.

    Peace out.

    • PD

      Medium article said the same thing. The stl American called that the black candidates needed to do that months ago.

      https://goo.gl/Qe7Af7

    • miguel2586

      I’m for the 50% and runoff too-but only if it replaces the primaries altogether. If the general election is just a formality what’s the point on a local level paying for two elections?

      • STLEnginerd

        Yes. Paying for more elections is kind of a waste of time. And low turnout primaries are not the best way to pick the next mayor especially when the democrat winning is the foregone conclusion. So an open election with all candidates on the ballot in April then followed by a runoff for the two top picks if no one gets a simple majority, is probably the best solution. You actually save money because in a race with one dominant candidate you only pay for one election.

        Of course you can’t have every whack-a-doo on the ballot so a substantial fee plus a petition containing a few hundred residents signatures should be required to qualify to appear on the ballot.

        A system like that should pull the nominees more to the center as usually the more fervent voters show up for primaries.

    • tyler

      “We are not beyond race in this city,” and we won’t be when people suggest that one ethnicity should consolidate its efforts to beat the other. Do all black candidates have the same vision for the city? Maybe they are running because they think their platform is the best for this city. I’m not saying we don’t have a race problem, but you are saying we should vote for someone because of their skin color.

    • stldoc

      I personally like to resist the idea that we need to have just one a “black” or one “white” candidate. I think Reed, French, Jones and Boyd were all quality candidates with their own voices and had ever right to be in the race. I think this mindset can be damaging (I’m not saying there isn’t truth in it though). Our region and the state of Missouri absolutely have an enormous race problem, but I believe the majority of city residents do not have the candidate’s race as their most important issue. I personally liked many of our candidates this election, but voted for Lyda. If anything, Lyda being white was her biggest handicap to getting my vote and I know I’m not alone. We must work together as a city because our biggest obstacles are not the democrats of a different race, because we all agree on the vast majority of major issues. Together, our biggest issues are extreme poverty and its side effects like crime, a fragmented region that force us to give tax giveaways like candy to compete with St. Louis County (and vise versa for them), and a state and now federal government that has all about lost their mind and are aggressively legislating against anything and everything that Democrats and urban residents believe in.

      • STLrainbow

        My 2c is there should be a variety of qualified choices from as many backgrounds as possible, but I don’t think there is any doubt in this instance Krewson owes her victory to being the only qualified white candidate running. (Sorry Mr. Haas if you’re reading this!) Gregory FX Daly dropping out was perhaps the defining moment of the campaign.

        Also, I think it’s important to note Tishaura Jones won handily among our city’s wards that have a meaningful degree if racial integration. (per a nifty graphic tweeted by Alex.)