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Jones, now in state House, to seek post as St. Louis treasurer

This article first appeared in the St. Louis Beacon, Dec. 14, 2011 - State Rep. Tishaura O. Jones, D-St. Louis, has just announced that she is definitely running for St. Louis city treasurer in 2012.

Jones -- the daughter of former city Comptroller Virvus Jones -- had told the Beacon earlier that she was considering such a bid, instead of running for re-election, in part because the new legislative redistricting map alters her current district.

"This moment in our history is a time like never before to change the course of our city's finances," said Jones. "As treasurer, I will work to make sure that each and every dollar is accounted for, invested properly and redistributed in a manner that best benefits our city."

She is the third Democrat to announce, joining Alderman Fred Wessels, D-22nd Ward, and city Democratic Party chairman Brian Wahby. Alderman Jeffrey Boyd also is considering a run. Embattled incumbent Treasurer Larry Williams, a Democrat in office since 1981, has said he plans to seek re-election.

Williams has found himself in political trouble because of a federal investigation on other matters that turned up "ghost employees" in his office.

Jones noted that she has served in the state House as assistant Democratic floor leader, the first woman and first African American to hold that post. Her legislative performance garnered honors from the St. Louis Regional Chamber and Growth Association the past two years.

According to her biography, Jones has a bachelor's degree in finance from Hampton University in Virginia and a master's degree in health administration from the Saint Louis University School of Public Health.

Jones serves on the adjunct faculty at the Anheuser-Busch School of Business at Harris-Stowe State University and earlier was employed as vice president of municipal finance for Blaylock Robert Van, an investment banking firm.

Referring to the treasurer's post, she said the office "is what you make it. I envision the treasurer's office as a key resource to bring forth programs and new ideas to improve the quality of life of our citizens.

"The treasurer should be more involved in helping city residents improve their overall financial health by warning them about the dangers of predatory lending, decreasing the percentage of families that aren't using banking services, or helping people craft budgets that teach them how to live within their means," she added.

As for the post's current functions under Williams, she jabbed, "No major city in the U.S. has a 'parking czar' that controls the building of city garages and where parking meters are placed.

"The primary function of the treasurer's office should be to collect and manage the city's funds ... period. If elected, I will work with other city elected officials and the Missouri Legislature to transfer this function to the appropriate department."

Jo Mannies has been covering Missouri politics and government for almost four decades, much of that time as a reporter and columnist at the St. Louis Post-Dispatch. She was the first woman to cover St. Louis City Hall, was the newspaper’s second woman sportswriter in its history, and spent four years in the Post-Dispatch Washington Bureau. She joined the St. Louis Beacon in 2009. She has won several local, regional and national awards, and has covered every president since Jimmy Carter. She scared fellow first-graders in the late 1950s when she showed them how close Alaska was to Russia and met Richard M. Nixon when she was in high school. She graduated from Valparaiso University in northwest Indiana, and was the daughter of a high school basketball coach. She is married and has two grown children, both lawyers. She’s a history and movie buff, cultivates a massive flower garden, and bakes banana bread regularly for her colleagues.

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