St. Louis Alderman Lyda Krewson emerged from a crowded field of candidates, many of them well-known city leaders, to win Tuesday's Democratic mayoral primary.
With all precincts reporting, Krewson had 32.04 percent of the vote to city Treasurer Tishaura Jones' 30.38 percent — just 888 votes.
On the Republican side, utility executive Andrew Jones handily beat out his two competitors — one of whom, Crown Candy Kitchen owner Andy Karandzieff, had said he entered on a whim and didn't really want to be mayor. Both Jones and Krewson move on to the April 4 general election, where they'll face at least five candidates from other parties.
In her victory speech, Krewson swiftly zeroed in on her key campaign issue: public safety.
“Neighhorhood safety is job one. Far too many families know the pain of violent crime," she said. "We’ll invest in prevention programs that work, and in more and better training and a more diverse police force.”
Krewson also praised her six Democratic rivals, although not by name, and promised to reach out to all of them.
“I am very, very humbled to have won in a very crowded field of strong candidates. Each and every one of those candidates have good ideas, good skills, and each one of them wants what is best for the city of St. Louis. I respect each and every one of them. I intentionally ran a positive campaign.”
In addition to Tishaura Jones, the other Democrats left in Krewson's wake are: Board of Aldermen President Lewis Reed, Aldermen Antonio French and Jeffrey Boyd, Bill Haas and Jimmie Matthews. The vote totals can be found here.
"Who would have thought that St. Louis would elect a woman mayor before we've elected a woman president," Krewson supporter Kerri Bonasch, 58, said at the alderman's results party.
Jones conceded by, at first, reading off her phone.
“Last but not least, I want to thank all of you in this room for believing in me, because this wasn’t easy.” She then put away her phone and continued: "But I don’t want you to think this is the end. I’m not sad, no, 'cause I’m going to tell you all what we’re going to do next. What did we do through this campaign? We turned this electorate on its head.”
Reed told his supporters that his campaign "set the dialogue in this race and that’s what we take away from it.” He specifically mentioned crime and forcing people to look at the “front end” — preventing crime rather than putting new officers on the street.
Reed also asked for a round of applause for Krewson, saying, “it’s going to so important that we work with her to begin changing our city.” But he also asked his supporters to hold her accountable.
French, who will not retain his 21st Ward seat, said Tuesday night: “This is my city. I love it."
He added: "The campaign we ran was about a message of bringing our city together to make sure we start looking at the entire city. And I hope that is something that will continue in the next administration. ... Many of the other campaigns adopted our strategies and language, so I hope that continues and that we have made the city a better place.”
Turnout was light, with about 55,000 people voting in the Democratic and GOP mayoral primaries, according to the Board of Elections Commission.
As for potential voting problems, Susan Ryan with the St. Louis Circuit Attorney’s Office said the office had fielded 15 phone calls by late afternoon. Two issues were being reviewed by the office to see whether they merit criminal charges. Other calls were about a broken voting machine and too few ballots.
Andrew Jones told St. Louis Public Radio he was looking ahead to how to beat Krewson. His plan involves: "(G)etting the funds, getting the donations to increase to the point where we can go about a real strategy … of getting more commercials, getting some level of exposure, utilizing conventional marketing efforts and the new social media to get our word out.”
Krewson earned 1,102 absentee votes, or about 33 percent. Andrew Jones had about 50 percent of the absentee vote for Republicans.
Follow the reporters on Twitter: Jo: @jmannies; Rachel: @rlippmann; Jason: @jrosenbaum; and Maria: @radioaltman