Tishaura Jones | St. Louis Public Radio

Tishaura Jones

Fans eagerly asked questions after listening to Bruce Arena speak.
Carolina Hidalgo | St. Louis Public Radio

Recovering from the slow-motion heartbreak of losing its NFL team (and, to a greater extent, watching the Rams grossly underperform for a decade), St. Louis is jostling with 11 other cities for a Major League Soccer expansion team. Building a stadium is critical to that effort, and an ownership group known as SC STL is trying to secure city taxpayer dollars for the facility.

But with St. Louis facing a raft of economic and public safety issues, opponents believe subsidizing professional sports is a misplaced priority. They also question whether a soccer team is going to provide much benefit to residents in struggling neighborhoods.

Lyda Krewson speaks with reporters after winning the Democratic mayoral primary on March 7, 2017.
Carolina Hidalgo | St. Louis Public Radio

Lyda Krewson, the Democratic nominee to be St. Louis’ next mayor, acknowledges the obvious: More than two-thirds of the city’s Democrats preferred one of her six rivals.

She also recognizes some tensions likely remain from the March 7 primary. “Campaigns are tough. A lot of skinned knees and scabby elbows after a campaign,” Krewson said. “But fundamentally, we’re all Democrats and we want to elect Democrats in the city in April.”

This is Franks' first time running for office.
File photo by Carolina Hidalgo | St. Louis Public Radio

(Updated with statement from Tishaura Jones)

State Rep. Bruce Franks will not run for St. Louis mayor.

Franks, a St. Louis Democrat, currently holds office as the State Representative for the 78th District of Missouri. On Thursday, he told the St. Louis Post-Dispatch that he was making the necessary moves to become a write-in mayoral candidate in the April 4 general election. That would have put him on a collision course with Alderman Lyda Krewson, who narrowly won Tuesday’s Democratic primary for mayor.

But, on Friday morning, Franks then told St. Louis Public Radio he was reversing course and will not be pursuing the mayor’s office. He said he was concerned Republican Gov. Eric Greitens would leave the 78th House District seat vacant until 2018 if he prevailed.

Lyda Krewson, surrounded by family, friends and campaign staffers, checks an update after 85 percent of precincts were tallied. (March 8, 2917)
Carolina Hidalgo | St. Louis Public Radio

Only two pushed through the crowded field of St. Louis mayoral candidates with enough support to win: Alderman Lyda Krewson and Treasurer Tishaura Jones, who received more than 60 percent of Tuesday’s vote combined.

 

But in the end, Krewson’s 888-vote edge — the closest result in a Democratic primary in decades — prevailed. The 28th Ward alderman chalked up the win to a robust organization and an appealing policy platform.

 

Lyda Krewson thanks her supporters, family and campaign staff after winning the Democratic mayoral primary election by 888 votes.
Carolina Hidalgo | St. Louis Public Radio

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.

Candidate Lyda Krewson responds to a question from the audience.
Willis Ryder Arnold | St. Louis Public Radio

The melee to get closer to becoming St. Louis mayor is mere hours away from its conclusion.

 

The race has featured an endless amount of twists, turns and surprises. And the contest turned a spotlight on the seven Democratic candidates, who attended an array of forums, conducted scores of media interviews and blanketed St. Louis residents with glossy mailers.

 

 

Six candidates for St. Louis mayor participate in a forum on Wednesday, Feb. 22, 2017.
Carolina Hidalgo | St. Louis Public Radio

Updated at 12:45 p.m. March 1 with details about voting patterns — For decades, it’s been a given in St. Louis elections: The person who usually wins is of the race — white or black —that has the fewest candidates in the contest.

 

And studies have shown that many St. Louis voters prefer to support candidates of their own race. With that in mind, candidates and political parties often are accused of stacking contests.

But the city’s major mayoral contenders are banking on different dynamics in the March 7 primary.  That’s particularly true of the four best-known Democratic candidates who are African-American.

St. Louis St. Louis Board of Aldermen President Lewis Reed won a landslide victory in the Democratic primary. His lack of real competition may have affected voter turnout throughout the city.
File photo | Jason Rosenbaum | St. Louis Public Radio

St. Louis Alderman Lyda Krewson has raised more than $500,000 in just the last month, far more than her Democratic rivals to be the city’s next mayor. But Board of Alderman President Lewis Reed is heading into the final week of campaigning with the most money in the bank.

That’s the two biggest takeaways from the final campaign-finance reports, which were due Monday, for the March 7 primary. 

Tishaura Jones 2017
File photo | Carolina Hidalgo I St. Louis Public Radio

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.

Susannah Lohr | St. Louis Public Radio

It’s been a violent couple of years in the city of St. Louis, one measure being the 188 homicides in 2015 and 2016.

A decrease in property crime drove the overall crime number down between 2015 and 2016, but violent crime was up more than four percent in 2016 compared to 2015.

All of the Democratic candidates for mayor know addressing crime will be a top priority if they’re elected. Most of them have very similar plans. Not all of them have faith in current Police Chief Sam Dotson to implement those plans.

Mayor Francis Slay signs legislation that will ask voters to approve a sales tax increase to fund a Major League Soccer stadium and a north-south MetroLink line. (Feb. 3, 2017)
File photo | Carolina Hidalgo | St. Louis Public Radio

If there’s one issue that’s provoked more fiery passions among St. Louis politicians, it’s using their constituents’ dollars to fund sports stadiums.

From the unsuccessful venture to keep Rams football in St. Louis to a pending proposal to nab a Major League Soccer team, there’s little question that opponents and proponents of the funding method have strong opinions — including the Democratic candidates seeking to become St. Louis’ next mayor.

Six candidates for St. Louis mayor participate in a forum on Wednesday, Feb. 22, 2017.
Carolina Hidalgo | St. Louis Public Radio

Portions of this article first appeared in the St. Louis American. This story has been updated and now includes audio.

This April, St. Louis will elect a new mayor for the first time in 16 years. St. Louis Public Radio, along with 13 other community and media organizations, hosted a mayoral forum Wednesday that focused on how to create a more racially equitable city.

The Forward Through Ferguson report served as a guide for crafting the questions, which gave candidates a chance to hold forth on a wide range of topics, from policing to affordable housing and inclusivity.

A boutique apartment tower going up at Euclid and West Pine avenues received tax increment financing in 2015. It sits across from a Whole Foods, which is housed on the lower level of another apartment building that received TIF. (Feb. 21, 2017)
Carolina Hidalgo | St. Louis Public Radio

There’s been a statistic tossed around frequently in the Democratic race for St. Louis mayor: The city has given away more than $700 million worth of tax increment financing and tax abatements over 15 years.

And those tools have become a big issue in the races for aldermen, and the mayoral primary.

St. Charles County executive Steve Ehlmann, Mayor Francis Slay, and St. Clair County executive Mark Kern (right) at the State of the Region breakfast on January 12, 2017
Carolina Hidalgo | St. Louis Public Radio

In what turned out to be his final inauguration speech in 2013, St. Louis Mayor Francis Slay described St. Louis County as a place that “we confidently expect to re-enter in this decade.”

The Democrat might have been a bit overconfident, as it’s 2017 and there’s still strong opposition to the idea of a merger throughout St. Louis County. No one really knows what an actual merger would look like, either: Would St. Louis become a county municipality? Or would St. Louis and St. Louis County coalesce into one big city like Indianapolis did in the 1970s?

Still, the lack of headway hasn’t kept the topic from being a prime talking point in the St. Louis mayoral race. Proponents of a merger believe that combining jurisdictions creates some cost savings — and makes it easier to bring in big-ticket development projects.

FIle photo | Chris McDaniel | St. Louis Public Radio

Updated at 5:10 p.m. Feb. 17 — An alderman who is running for St. Louis mayor has asked the union representing city police officers to fire their business manager, Jeff Roorda, over a social media attack leveled at another mayoral candidate.

Thursday evening's statement from Alderman Lyda Krewson, D-28th Ward, targets Roorda's Facebook post that called city Treasurer Tishaura Jones a race-baiter and, in a second post, "the worst person to occupy skin."

File photo I Jason Rosenbaum I St. Louis Public Radio

Several St. Louis mayoral candidates scrambled Monday after they discovered tens of thousands of donations from corporations and unions are barred under the new campaign finance law that Missouri voters approved in November.

city hall with flowers
File photo | St. Louis Public Radio

Though it's been underway for months, the race to replace Francis Slay as the mayor of St. Louis has officially begun.

Three of the top candidates for mayor were at the doors of the city's Board of Election Commissioners at 8 a.m., Monday — the start of filing for the March Democratic primary.

Tishaura Jones high-fives guests at a campaign kickoff party for her mayoral run at Exodus Gallery on Delmar Blvd. on Nov. 15, 2016.
Carolina Hidalgo | St. Louis Public Radio

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.  

A payday loan shop on Natural Bridge Avenue east of Union Boulevard. The high interest rate of payday loans can leave people on the hook for paying more in interest than the original loan.
File photo | Camille Phillips | St. Louis Public Radio

The St. Louis Board of Aldermen on Friday gave initial approval to legislation that would put new restrictions on payday lenders in the city.

Democratic U.S. Senate nominee Jason Kander speaks at a labor rally in St. Charles earlier this fall. Kander is squaring off against U.S. Sen. Roy Blunt this November.
Carolina Hidalgo | St. Louis Public Radio

It’s a dreary, rainy day in Troy, Missouri, and Jason Kander is about to meet a small group of veterans at the Roasted Bean Coffee Shop. In a weird, parallel universe, the 35-year-old Democrat would be stumping for his second term as secretary of state. But Kander’s aiming higher and is focusing his time and energy on trying to unseat U.S. Sen. Roy Blunt.

Few national pundits believed Kander’s gambit would be worthwhile. They looked at presidential results and polls, and concluded (wrongly) Missouri was just too Republican for a Democrat to prevail. But Kander never bought into that type of assumptive prognostication. And now, Kander is within striking distance of being a building block for his party’s return to power in the U.S. Senate.

Chief Sam Dotson stl police 1.27.15
Katelyn Petrin | St. Louis Public Radio intern | 2015 photo

St. Louis Police Chief Sam Dotson has filed papers with the Missouri Ethics Commission to explore a possible bid for mayor, he confirmed to The American. Incumbent Mayor Francis Slay is not seeking reelection.

Dotson initially told The American there would be no announcement or social media campaign, and that he intends to quietly raise funds to conduct polls to see how competitive he would be. Then he released an announcement.

A red, white and blue light rail car stops at a MetroLink station.
St. Louis Public Radio file photo

The St. Louis Parking Commission is putting up $2 million to study a possible north-south MetroLink expansion. Members voted unanimously Thursday to spend funds from the Parking Division’s unrestricted reserves to re-examine the 17-mile route that would connect St. Louis’ downtown to north and south St. Louis County.

The full Board of Aldermen is expected to take up the stadium funding plan next Tuesday.
Jason Rosenbaum I St. Louis Public Radio | file photo

St. Louis aldermen want to place stricter regulations on “payday loan” establishments, part of a broader movement to combat institutions that provide short-term cash to primarily low-income individuals.

Payday loan companies tend to provide small, short-term loans to people. Some critics of the institutions say that they place high interest rates on the loans, which send low-income people who use the service into a cycle of debt.

Budget director Paul Payne gives a presentation at a public hearing on the city's 2017 spending plan on May 18, 2016.
Rachel Lippmann | St. Louis Public Radio | file photo

For the past two weeks, the heads of city departments have come to the Ways and Means Committee asking the aldermen for additional money to cover their needs.

On Monday, it was the aldermen's turn to have their say on the spending plan for 2017.

Lawmakers in St. Louis are limited in how they can affect the budget. The city's budget must be balanced, so any addition to one department has to be balanced by a subtraction from another area.

Blues musician Bobby Rush, museum leaders and Mayor Francis Slay celebrate the opening of the National Blues Museum on Saturday, April 2, 2016.
Camille Phillips | St. Louis Public Radio

It was just a couple of weeks ago that St. Louis Mayor Francis Slay unequivocally told this reporter that he would run for a historic fifth term.

Now, the Democratic official has changed course and won’t be running for another four years in office. And that means next year’s mayoral contest could be a free-for-all of epic proportions.

St. Louis Board of Aldermen President Lewis Reed, left, talks with Aldermen Sam Moore, center, and Antonio French about a stadium funding deal. All three voted in favor of the proposal aimed at keeping the St. Louis Rams in town.
File photo by Jason Rosenbaum | St. Louis Public Radio

Updated 11:15 Friday -- Plans for a $1 billion riverfront stadium cleared a major hurdle Thursday when a financing proposal passed out of the St. Louis Board of Aldermen’s Ways and Means Committee. And the measure passed with a big assist from one of St. Louis Mayor Francis Slay’s biggest detractors. The full board will consider this bill next week.

St. Louis Treasurer Tishaura Jones diverges from Knowles and Curtis when it comes to how municipal courts affect predominantly black cities.
Jason Rosenbaum I St. Louis Public Radio

St. Louis Treasurer Tishaura Jones is following through with her campaign promises to help reduce the number of St. Louisans without a banking account and increase the number of St. Louis children who go to college.

Through a partnership with national nonprofit Operation Hope and five area banks, the treasurer’s office is hiring a financial counselor to offer St. Louisans free advice on how to improve their credit scores, buy a home and start a business.

Ferguson Mayor James Knowles III prepares to hand a resolution to a city resident. Knowles reflected on how his city's changed since Michael Brown's death earlier this week.
Jason Rosenbaum | St. Louis Public Radio

In a year filled with trials and tribulations that few municipal officials face in a lifetime, Ferguson Mayor James Knowles learned quite a bit.

Throughout the 12 months that followed Michael Brown’s death at the hands of a former Ferguson police officer, Knowles said his city found out the hard way how important it is for a government to communicate with its residents. Just because somebody doesn’t speak up at a council meeting or through an e-mail, Knowles said, doesn’t mean “there aren’t issues out there that need to be addressed.”

A report being considered by the St. Louis parking commission suggests increasing parking rates in the city. That would help fund upgraded meters, like this one that takes credit cards.
Paul Sableman, Flickr

St. Louis' coin-only parking meters may get a technology upgrade, but it might cost you more to use them.

On Thursday, the city's parking commission reviewed initial recommendations to raise parking rates by next year. The suggestions come from a preliminary report commissioned by the city that evaluates its parking system. 

The commission is considering raising hourly meter rates from $1 to $1.50 in busy downtown areas, and from $0.75 to $1 in lower demand areas. Some violation fees also would increase.

(Rachel Lippmann/St. Louis Public Radio)

Beginning this fall, there will be more options for paying parking meters in the city of St. Louis, including credit cards and smartphones.

The St. Louis treasurer’s office has selected a joint bid from Xerox and Parkmobile to update the payment system. Xerox will supply new meters that accept credit cards as well as cash, and Parkmobile will launch an app that allows customers to pay the meter using their smartphones.

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