New St. Louis mayor faces high crime that ravaged her family
ST. LOUIS (AP) — St. Louis’ newly elected mayor is promising to help the city reduce the sort of violent crime that devastated her own family two decades ago.
Democrat Lyda Krewson, 64, easily defeated Republican Andrew Jones and four other candidates in the general election Tuesday, receiving 68 percent of the vote.
Her narrow victory over city Treasurer Tishaura Jones in the March primary made her the odds-on favorite to win the race in the heavily Democratic city. She will replace St. Louis’ only four-term mayor, Francis Slay, who was first elected in 2001 and decided against another run.
St. Louis voters also turned down public funding to help build a 22,000-seat stadium as part of an effort to attract a Major League Soccer expansion franchise. Voters narrowly approved a measure to eliminate the recorder of deeds’ office and use the savings to buy police body cameras.
Krewson has pledged to work to reduce crime and improve impoverished neighborhoods. She and her two young children were in the car in front of their home in 1995 when her husband, Jeff, was slain during a random carjacking attempt.
Homicides have spiked in recent years in St. Louis, which annually ranks among the most violent cities in the nation based on FBI statistics. Krewson wants to hire more officers and improve training and diversity in the police department.
Krewson, an alderwoman for 20 years, said she wants to add more diversity to the police department. About one-third of St. Louis officers are black in a city in which African-Americans are a slight majority.
“We’ll work to build a safer city,” Krewson told supporters. “A city that welcomes everyone. A city that cares for our most vulnerable residents. A city where you can get a good education and a good job.”
St. Louis is among 12 cities that applied for two Major League Soccer expansions teams expected to be awarded this fall and begin play in 2020. But the ownership group SC STL has said the project was contingent upon voters agreeing to a measure that would have provided $60 million from a business use tax toward the project. That measure failed by a 53 percent to 47 percent vote.
Messages late Tuesday seeking comment from the ownership group were not immediately returned.
St. Louis police don’t use body cameras despite several officer-involved shootings. Police Chief Sam Dotson favors equipping officers with body cameras, but the city is low on funds.
Democratic state Sen. Jamilah Nasheed and Republican millionaire activist Rex Sinquefield came up with the plan that voters approved Tuesday: eliminating the recorder of deed’s office and having the assessor’s office absorb its functions, with the cost savings going toward a body camera program for the department’s 1,200 officers.
Supporters believe the consolidation will save about $1 million annually, nearly enough for the $1.2 million Dotson has estimated a camera system would cost.