The city of St. Louis, Missouri, elected its first black female mayor on Tuesday, with Democrat Tishaura Jones taking 52 percent of the vote over her opponent’s 48 percent. She will be sworn in on April 20 and faces the dual challenges presented by a declining population and one of the worst murder rates in the nation.
“St. Louis: This is an opportunity for us to rise,” Jones said in her victory speech. “I told you when I was running that we aren’t done avoiding tough conversations. We are done ignoring the racism that has held our city and our region back.”
Jones defeated Alderwoman Cara Spencer in the general election. Spencer, in her concession address, noted the historic achievement of her opponent.
“This is something we should all celebrate,” Spencer said. “Our city broke a glass ceiling tonight, a ceiling that shouldn’t have been there.”
Jones, 49, is a former state representative who has been treasurer since 2013. She will replace incumbent Mayor Lyda Krewson, who announced in November she would be standing down. Krewson, 67, is the city’s first woman mayor.
Both Jones and Spencer agreed curbing violence is the single biggest issue ahead, especially killings in the city, AP reports.
Police statistics show 262 people were killed in St. Louis last year — five fewer than the record of 267 set in 1993. But because the city’s population has declined sharply since 1993, the per capita homicide rate was much higher in 2020.
The city shot to national prominence last year when two local householders took up arms to defend their property against protesters, as Breitbart News reported.
WATCH: A St. Louis, Missouri, couple used an AR-15 and a pistol to defend their home Sunday as protesters marched through their neighborhood. https://t.co/ftsoZRObmH
— Breitbart News (@BreitbartNews) June 29, 2020
Already, 2021 is shaping up to be even worse. The city has recorded 46 killings through Tuesday, about 10 ahead of last year’s dangerously high pace.
Tishaura Jones has pledged to bring in more social workers, mental health counselors and substance abuse counselors. She sees social aid as an alternative to adding more uniformed officers while her victory speech focused largely on overcoming racism and bigotry.
“I will not stay silent when I spot racism,” Jones said. “I will not stay silent when I spot homophobia or transphobia. I will not stay silent when I spot xenophobia. I will not stay silent when I spot religious intolerance. I will not stay silent when I spot any injustice.”
AP contributed to this story