Politically Speaking: Treasurer Tishaura Jones on navigating the mayoral melee

Feb 15, 2017

On the latest edition of the Politically Speaking podcast, St. Louis Public Radio’s Jason Rosenbaum, Jo Mannies and Rachel Lippmann welcome back St. Louis Treasurer Tishaura Jones to the show.

Jones is one of seven Democratic candidates running to succeed St. Louis Mayor Francis Slay. All seven contenders in the March 7 primary have now taped an episode of the podcast.

Jones, the daughter of former St. Louis Comptroller Virvus Jones, made her first bid for public office in 2008, when she successfully ran for a state House seat  slice of eastern St. Louis.

While in the Missouri House, Jones’ Democratic colleagues selected her to be assistant minority leader. She was heavily involved in crafting legislation that overhauled how charter schools operate throughout the state and was an outspoken advocate for abortion rights.

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Jones chose to run for city treasurer in 2012, and beat three Democratic candidates by a comfortable margin. She made some major changes to the office, including revamping parking meters and starting a college savings program for St. Louis Public School students. And she also created the St. Louis Office of Financial Empowerment, which is aimed at bolstering financial literacy among city residents.

Since she entered the mayor’s race last year, Jones snagged endorsements from a number of progressive-leaning organizations – including NARAL Pro Choice Missouri, Mobilize Missouri and the Service Employees International Union. Former Secretary of State Jason Kander, St. Louis County Assessor Jake Zimmerman and state Sen. Jamilah Nasheed also back her candidacy.

A few highlights from the show:

  • She supports economic development, but believes City Hall has been too generous in handing out tax incentives without adequate oversight.
  • She defends her city-reimbursed out-of-town travel, which she says has helped her expand her knowledge of new and better approaches for running her office and handling other city issues.
  • Jones stands by her call for closing down the city's Workhouse, a medium-security complex that houses roughly 600 prisoners. She says it's being used as a "debtor's prison'' for nonviolent arrestees who can't afford cash bail.
  • She is promising to replace St. Louis Police Chief Sam Dotson, saying "it's time'' for a new leader at the police department. Jones also reaffirmed her belief that it was more important to install social workers in the police department, as many other metropolitan forces have done, than to add additional officers.
  • Jones believes that the mayor can wield an indirect role in encouraging more improvements in public schools, so that more residents will feel comfortable sending their children to neighborhood instead of private, parochial or charter schools.
  • She  believes that race is becoming less of a factor for city voters.

Follow Jason Rosenbaum on Twitter: @jrosenbaum

Follow Jo Mannies on Twitter: @jmannies

Follow Rachel Lippmann on Twitter: @rlippmann

Music: "Trouble," "I'm On My Way" and "Dressin' on the Side" by the River Kittens