ST. LOUIS— “Martin Luther King said injustice anywhere is a threat to justice everywhere and this will be central to my style of government,” said Tishaura Jones, during her historic victory speech after being elected mayor in the City of St. Louis. She became the first Black woman to be elected as mayor of the city.
The former city treasurer, now mayor-elect, will be sworn in office on April 20. Ms. Jones joins the ranks of other Black women around the country that have risen to political prominence in the United States in recent years. Kamala Harris, the first Black woman vice president and in Missouri, Rep.
Cori Bush (D-Mo.), who defeated 10-term incumbent Lacy Clay in 2020. And a host of others are making history. Historically, St. Louis has been a city run and controlled by White men, but with the election of Mayor-elect Jones, the city’s top six positions of power are now held by four Black women and two Black men.
Mayor-elect Jones is no stranger to the world of politics and making history. Her father worked in city government for many years and was former comptroller for St. Louis. Mr. Virvus Jones has been by his daughter’s side mentoring her throughout her political career.
He managed her campaigns for Missouri state representative and when she ran for city treasurer. When Ms. Jones was in the Missouri House of Representatives, she was selected by her fellow Democrats as Assistant Minority House Leader. She became the first Black and the first female in Missouri’s history to hold that position.
One of her dear friends and collegues, U.S. Rep. Cori Bush, tweeted her congratulations to the new mayor-elect. “It’s a new day in St. Louis, and Black women are leading the way, Congratulations, Mayor @Tishaura. Let’s get to work,” she wrote.
Ms. Jones ran her campaign on a platform of breaking down the racial walls in St. Louis, a city historically known to be one of the most polarized cities in America. Blacks, Whites and other ethnicities are divided primarily due to their economic status. She vowed to bring economic and opportunity balance to the city.
“I want to build a city where each and every one of you feel welcome,” she said. “Not only will I be the first Black woman to be mayor of the city of St. Louis, but this campaign unequivocally has begun to break down the historic racial barriers and the racial divides that have existed for generations in our city.”
Ms. Jones has lived most of her life on the city’s North Side where poverty and crime is unmistakably a problem and is quite the contrary from the neighboring communities to the South.
“The people closest to the problem are the people closest to the solution. That means when we start doing intentional development; just like disinvestment was intentional in North St. Louis, investment will be intentional in North St. Louis,” Mayor-elect Jones told The Final Call. “We can’t expect our people to expect more from themselves if all they see is broken down houses, vacant homes, vacant lots, illegal dumping, scattered trash, crime on the streets, etc. If they don’t see it, they can’t think of anything differently,” she added.
At one point of her victory speech the new mayor broke down with emotion as she reflected on the strength of her mother who died of cancer in a critical time in her development in life.
“I was inspired by her grit, her tenacity, and the strength that she demonstrated. I stepped back pinpointed and rooted my system of support and rebuilt my life step by step; thank you mother,” she cried.
Mayor-elect Jones announced the introduction of a transition website for the City of St. Louis where citizens of will have the ability to make their voices heard. “Building upon the opportunity, that you all have to submit your ideas on my platform page, and a plan for incoming funds on my campaign page,” she explained.
“I pledge to you that my administration will usher in a new era of collaboration and cooperation. Between our partners directly to the West (speaking of Kansas City, Missouri) and the East, across the state and around the country. We will be unafraid to ask for help and seek ideas that work elsewhere to grow our city and to make development equable to improve the process of our city government,” the mayor-elect continued.
“I believe that hope and optimism resides in every nook, cranny and neighborhood in our city. So as Mary J. Blige the great prophetess once said ‘believe in yourself when no one else does’ and I believe in St. Louis.”