St. Louis Alderman Lyda Krewson jumped into the wide-open race for St. Louis mayor, promising to bring her mixture of legislative and fiscal experience to the city’s top job.
Krewson, D-28th Ward, announced her bid for mayor on Tuesday with a YouTube video.
The Moberly native has represented part of the city’s central corridor since 1997. Krewson, who is a certified accountant, is the chief financial officer for PGAV.
“I got in because I want to be the mayor. And I think who the mayor is matters for the direction of our city for years to come,” said Krewson in a telephone interview. “I think I bring some skills to the table which will be helpful — and I hope move us in a positive direction.”
During the last election cycle, then-St. Louis County Councilman Steve Stenger emphasized his CPA experience during his successful bid for county executive. Even though the mayor doesn’t have primary authority over crafting St. Louis’ budget, Krewson said her professional experience is a “real asset” for her upcoming campaign.
"Our budget should reflect our priorities," Krewson said. "And I think there are a lot of people in this city, who I know, who don’t even know that I am the CFO for a major international firm, because they see me as their alderman. Yeah, I think it’s a plus. It’s not a profession that I would shy [away] from. I’m proud of it."
Incumbent St. Louis Mayor Francis Slay announced in April that he wouldn’t run for re-election. St. Louis is heavily Democratic, so the winner of next March’s Democratic primary will likely become Slay's successor.
Crime, economy and the Internet
Krewson said her main priority in the campaign is fighting crime, an issue that’s become more high profile in recent months. She said she would want to fill vacant positions in the city’s police department — and possibly develop a “citywide camera strategy.”
“Right now we do have some cameras that feed into the Real Time Intelligence Center,” Krewson said. “But we ought to have an overall strategy for our city, if we think that cameras are one of those tools that the police need and that are helpful to the police.”
Krewson said she would want to work with the St. Louis Economic Partnership (an agency with city and St. Louis County appointees) to bring job opportunities to the city. She added that crime prevention goes hand-in-hand with fostering economic development.
“I would plan to spend a lot of time with those folks, encouraging (and) doing what I can to support, frankly, new jobs being located here in the city of St. Louis,” Krewson said. “And I think we have the opportunity with this win with NGA to really have a major impact in an area that’s suffered from disinvestment for a long time.”
“I don’t think there’s one big answer to this, frankly. In fact, I think the big opportunities only come along once in a while,” she added. “The real turnaround for St. Louis has to take place in rehabbing our historic structures and providing services to our people — the services that they need.”
Krewson wants to overhaul the city’s online presence. While noting that St. Louis’ website improved over the last few years, Krewson said it could get better.
“It seems like kind of a small thing, but it’s actually a big thing,” Krewson said. “It’s still not really easy to figure out when meetings are, where meetings are or how to apply for things online. And what you can do online and what you have to go to City Hall and go from office to office for.
“There’s almost nothing you can’t find out through Google these days, except where a meeting is at City Hall,” she added.
Crowded field ahead
This isn’t Krewson’s first citywide campaign: She lost to Jim Shrewsbury in a close 2002 contest for St. Louis Board of Aldermen president. Even though she didn’t win, Krewson said she doesn’t think she’d “be running for mayor today had I not done that.”
One big difference between 2002 and 2017? Krewson will likely face more than one major candidate.
In addition to St. Louis Board of Aldermen President Lewis Reed, St. Louis Treasurer Tishaura Jones is strongly considering a mayoral bid. Other possible contenders include St. Louis Collector of Revenue Gregory F.X. Daly, Alderman Jeffery Boyd, D-22nd Ward, state Sen. Jamilah Nasheed, D-St. Louis, and St. Louis Police Chief Sam Dotson.
And even though the mayor’s race is still months away, there have already been some fairly public dust ups: Some critics of Jones have sparred with her over parts of her budget. Dotson has also encountered heightened scrutiny for his record on crime — especially with a rising homicide rate. And some supporters of Jones’ possible bid have criticized the use of tax incentives throughout the Central West End, a neighborhood that Krewson represents, along with several other aldermen.
For her part, Krewson said she doesn’t know how testy the mayoral race will be. But she added: “It’s an important office. It’s an important job for our city. And so, people feel strongly about it.”
“Twitter makes it very, very easy to jab at people. I don’t intend to do that. But it’s out there. And it’s there for everyone to see,” she said. “Frankly, I’m going to focus on running the best race that I can run on, making my case to the voters — and on persuading them that I’m the best candidate for this job. And I’m going to approach in that way.
“That’s really why I declared now,” she added. “Time to stop thinking about it and start doing. So I’m going to do the best job I can to make my case to the voters.”
Follow Jason Rosenbaum on Twitter: @jrosenbaum