This article first appeared in the St. Louis Beacon, April 16, 2013 - After being sworn in for a historic fourth term, St. Louis Mayor Francis Slay pledged to pursue his work with “hope – and with a sense of great urgency.”
Both Slay and St. Louis Comptroller Darlene Green were sworn in on Tuesday for four-year terms. Slay made history earlier this month when he won the general election to a fourth four-year term.
Slay effectively won his latest term in March when he defeated St. Louis Board of Aldermen President Lewis Reed and former Alderman Jimmy Matthews. He then easily won his general election campaign over Green Party nominee James McNeely.
During his inaugural speech, Slay said that the next four years provide “a chance to move forward together with politics built, not on fear of change, but on trust in a better future.” He also took note of his unprecedented achievement, albeit in a different manner.
“There are those who believe that the election of a mayor to a fourth four-year term was enough history to make. I am not among them,” Slay said. “I believe, rather, that the work that we will do together during the next several years will be what will make history.”
In a speech that Slay declared “one of the shortest” in the city’s history, the mayor listed his goals, including reducing greenhouse gas emissions and building 20 schools. He dubbed St. Louis County as a place "that we confidently expect to reenter in this decade.
Other broad goals include improvements in “public safety, our economy, the arts, diversity, education, ecology, and infrastructure.”
“I ask you to hold me accountable for the leadership and energy necessary to accomplish these goals,” Slay said. “And I promise you the transparency in government necessary for you to make that judgment.”
He added that he wants to see St. Louis “as a global competitor, as an international trade hub, as an incubator of new companies; as a place of culture and the arts; as a magnet for immigrants, for entrepreneurs, for animal lovers, and for gays; as a city of parks and trails; and as the sort of place that figures in young people’s dreams.
“The challenges and the opportunities facing the city of St. Louis are not restricted to the length of anyone’s term in office,” Slay said. “But they are before us now – and we must grasp them.”
He concluded his address by noting that for too long “our community has let itself be paralyzed by the tyranny of haters. With today’s oath, I firmly dedicate myself – every fiber of my being – to leading a city that gets better every day.
“We have gotten as far as we can get pulling against each other,” he added. “For the next four years, let’s pull together and see how much further we can get.”
Green’s path to re-election was much easier than Slay's. She faced no opposition in the Democratic primary, and she easily went on to defeat Green Party nominee Jerome Bauer in the general election.
Green – who was elected to her fifth full term in office – touted the city’s steadily improving credit rating throughout the years. She said that over the years, “we’ve built a solid fiscal foundation that continues to leverage millions of dollars for investment in our downtown and in our neighborhoods.”
“As comptroller, I am poised to lead and make bold choices for the future of our city,” Green said. “We have a great city. But even a great city can be better. I pledge to work hard to make St. Louis a better place to live, work and play.”
She also pledged to improve her office by implementing a new accounting and payroll system. She also said she would continue to work with city leaders to improve public safety.
“I will continue to engage our local universities to partner with the city of St. Louis to use their immense resources to help improve public safety,” Green said. “I will work with city leaders to promote job creation for our youth and for our working families. The mayor and I support a new jobs program – STL Youth Jobs – developed to create 500 youth jobs this summer. I will work with city leaders to increase minority inclusion on public works projects and grow workforce development numbers and increase job training.”
Aldermen start anew
In addition to Slay's and Green’s swearing-in ceremony, Tuesday was inauguration day for aldermen elected earlier this month.
With the exception of Alderwoman Christine Ingrassia, D-6th Ward, and Alderwoman Sharon Tyus, D-1st Ward, voters sent back incumbents back to the board. For the most part, members of the board spent Tuesday morning thanking supporters and family.
Ingrassia won a three-way contest to represent the 6th Ward, which takes in parts of Lafayette Square, Midtown, Compton Heights, Fox Park and JeffVanderLou.
Before winning election, Ingrassia served as the 6th Ward’s director of outreach. She also has been involved in the Vashon Jeff Vander Lou Initiative, the 6th Ward Democratic Organization and the Gate District East Neighborhood Association.
“I’ve always taken my lead on what the constituents of the 6th Ward think are the most important priorities,” Ingrassia said. “And right now that is fighting crime, working on the budgetary issues down here to get funding for issues that involve vacant and dilapidated properties in the 6th Ward [and] education.”
Asked what her legislative style would be, Ingrassia said, “I do like to debate.”
“I’ve always been behind the scenes, so we’ll see how I perform when I’m out in front of everybody else,” Ingrassia said. “I’m familiar with a good argument.”
Tyus is returning to the Board of Aldermen after roughly a decade away from the chamber. Tyus unseated Quincy Troupe to represent the city’s 1st Ward, which takes in areas of Kingsway East, Kingsway West, Mark Twain, Penrose, Walnut Park East and Wells Goodfellow.
Tyus represented the 20th Ward on the board during the 1990s and part of the 2000s, but got shut out in a redistricting plan that shifted her ward across town. Tuesday, she noted that before redistricting, she easily fended off primary and general election opponents – as well as several attempts to recall her from office.
After two narrow losses against Troupe, Tyus -- an attorney who served as the 1st Ward's committeewoman -- won in the March Democratic primary. She attributed the win to her campaign team and a 2011 redistricting plan that added favorable terrain.
Tyus said she’s planning to fight for “resources for her community.” When asked by a reporter if she plans to introduce any legislation or fight for a particular issue, Tyus replied: “No, I just plan to come down here and sit.”
“Of course, I have issues and of course I plan to [introduce legislation],” Tyus said. “I’m going to preview it out in my community. … That’s how I always have done legislation. It’s always been ‘come to people, what do you want, what should we be getting’ and then work on getting it.”