Tishaura Jones, currently treasurer of St. Louis, Missouri, defeated Alderman Cara Spencer in Tuesday's mayoral race with more than 50 percent of the vote. The mayor-elect told Cheddar that her first priorities will be to continue mass vaccination efforts and to address the persistent public safety issue that plagues the city.
"St. Louis, unfortunately, just had its most violent year on record in 2020 with over 260 murders by gun violence, and also, we are tops in the nation per capita for police-involved shootings, and so we need to totally transform our public safety department, declare gun violence as a public health crisis, which addresses the root causes, and brings everyone to the table," Jones said.
She also noted the importance of continuing to provide financial support to the community as the country works through the coronavirus pandemic. She said $500 million in federal aid was granted to the city, and those funds will be used to help families cover rent and mortgage expenses.
Small businesses are also eligible for help, Jones added.
"We had several town halls during the election, and we want to continue those conversations with our small business owners, not only just to make sure that they get back on their feet but also to expand opportunities for people who want to open businesses," she said.
"We want to be helpful and provide the tools and resources that they need as well as technical assistance and to make sure that we create an economy where people not just survive but thrive."
Jones is slated to be sworn in on April 20, when she will then join two other prominent Black Americans, Comptroller Darlene Green and President of the Board of Aldermen Lewis Reed, the three offices that control St. Louis' top fiscal body called the Board of Estimate and Apportionment. Once Jones is sworn in, it will be the first time in the city's history that the board will be headed by three Black Americans.
"I'm excited to serve with two people that I have respected for decades. Comptroller Darlene Green has a ton of institutional knowledge and as current treasurer, I'm a member of the department of finance so I've had an opportunity over the last eight years to really learn from her and get some wisdom from her as we lead, together, our city's finances," Jones said.
"And President Lewis Reed and I were friends for decades as well. We used to work together before we got into politics, and so I look forward to serving with both of them and developing solutions, short and long term, to move our city forward."
When it comes to transitioning into the role of mayor, Jones said she's learned a number of things since she began working for St. Louis, which includes having patience when it comes to the speed at which city government operates, not airing closed-door disagreements in the public, and being compassionate while still enforcing the law.