And then there were six.
On Tuesday, Treasurer Tishaura Jones kicked off her campaign to replace Mayor Francis Slay in front of a crowd of about 200 at Exodus Galleries on Delmar.
"I'm running for mayor because I love St. Louis," Jones told her supporters. "But I'm also running for mayor because this city needs to change. I'm not afraid to say that."
In an interview with St. Louis Public Radio before her speech, Jones said she saw too many gaps throughout the city.
"There are gaps between neighborhoods, gaps between races, gaps between the haves and the have-nots, and we want to make sure we close those gaps," she said.
Jones' speech was filled with policies that will cater to the more liberal wing of the city's Democratic Party, which had been running a "draft Tishaura" campaign since May. She pledged to close down the medium security jail known as the Workhouse, to consider how every policy she implements would affect communities of color – something known as a racial equity lens — and to reform tax incentives.
"I am not against tax subsidies for development," she said. "But I want to make sure that we're coupling those tax incentives with community benefit agreements. If we are forgoing tax revenue, I want to make sure that we're getting a return for that investment."
Jones pledged to run as the "change" candidate, pointing to her record at the treasurer's office.
"We have totally changed that office from the 19th century to the 21st century, in terms of upgrading our entire infrastructure, all of our technology, and making sure that it is an office that serves people as well," she said.
But it was the perception that not much would change if Jones became mayor that appealed to 32-year-old St. Louis resident Malena Amusa.
"I've been a long-time Slay supporter, even before I could vote, and he did such a good job," she said of incumbent mayor Francis Slay, who is not running for re-election. "And I know his sort of circle of influence is very wide, and Tishaura is a party of that circle, she really looked up to him, so I saw her as an extension of his legacy, and really her ability to build up on it."
Amusa's friend, Brittanie Anderson, returned to her hometown less than six months ago after being away for 15 years.
"I wanted to plug in, especially with what has happened with our national election. I think it's a time when everyone is becoming more interested and invested," she said. "When I listened to what Tishaura Jones was saying tonight, I was really moved. She really made me start to envision a better city."
Nasheed forms and funds committee
Jones' announcement came the day after state Sen. Jamilah Nasheed, D-St. Louis, tweeted that she had filed paperwork with the Missouri Ethics Commission to raise money for a mayoral bid. She subsequently transferred $300,000 from her Senate account to the new committee.
In a telephone interview on Tuesday, Nasheed said she had been getting encouragement from constituents to enter the mayor’s race. She recently won re-election to the Missouri Senate, making her the first person to win a second four-year term for the 5th Senatorial District in more than a decade.
“I’m probably the only candidate that can go from the lowest of the low to the ghettoes and then go back into the suites with the highest of the highs,” Nasheed said. “I want to be able to continue to build on the progress that we’re all making. Because at the end of the day, St. Louis, contrary to popular belief, we have a lot of economic development growth here.
“We have some traction in terms of growth from the economic development standpoint,” she added. “But it’s not trickling across north of Delmar. And so, when I make my announcement, that’s where I’m going to make it at – on Delmar and Kingshighway. And I’m going to talk about the tales of the two cities.”
Nasheed said she would make a formal announcement on Dec. 3. She added “I’ll be there” when filing for the race opens later this month.
"Once I get in, I’m going all the way in,” she said.
Jones' and Nasheed's announcement means there are at least five African-American candidates running for the office — some of whom got in specifically to challenge Jones.
"All we can do is keep our head down and run our race, and not pay attention to any of the noise," Jones said of the crowded field. "We know what we're going to concentrate on, and where we're going to concentrate that message."
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