Q&A with Andrew Jones, Republican candidate for mayor of St. Louis
On March 7, business executive Andrew Jones emerged from a field of three candidates to become the Republican candidate for mayor of St. Louis. On Monday’s St. Louis on the Air, Jones joined host Don Marsh to discuss his platform ahead of the general municipal election on April 4.
We spoke with the Democratic candidate for mayor, Lyda Krewson, on March 22 and will speak with third party/independent candidates on Friday.
Although Krewson is heavily favored to win as the Democratic candidate in the race, Jones is working deliberately to pull an upset victory.
Listen to the full interview with Jones here, with major points from the interview noted below:
On being a Republican candidate in a city that’s overwhelmingly Democratic:
“Fundamentally what you have to do, you have to have a baseline with your campaign and your philosophy and policy, where it resonates with people. Certainly, we’re trying to get people to do something that they normally would not do and that is to consider the other side. We have to be comprehensive in our delivery and our knowledge base … It has to be something that tells people that we are the change the people are looking for.”
On what part of his message is resonating most clearly:
“It’s coming up with ideas and solutions that seem like they are just common sense approaches to getting significant problems solved. The other component of it is to get people to understand that the change that they need cannot come from the same personalities, the same policies that have inflicted the negatives on the city that currently exist.”
On what changes need to be made:
“We need to look at things at a point where they are more focused on policies for policing, economic development and strengthening our schools.”
On public safety:
"The major problem that the city of St. Louis has right now, and is part of a PR problem as well, is that we have violent crime, violent crime at a level that is not unprecedented because we know in the 1990s we had violent crime at a similar level, but the drivers for this one are particularly different. If we’re looking at the drivers here, we’re looking at violent crime being associated with narcotics.
"I was one of the first persons to say anything specifically about it being connected with narcotics and that our policing agency knows exactly who these perpetrators are and that they commit probably over 80 percent of the crimes that exist, those violent crimes in the city of St. Louis. If we can prohibit that from growing, we will have a great opportunity for changing the narrative on how people in the surrounding metropolitan area see the city, people throughout the United States and even globally.”
On economic development:
"I certainly have been very critical of the city of St. Louis and its outside agencies and connected agencies particularly when you talk about the entitlement component of economic development. Most people, most municipalities, most practitioners, won’t lead with those levels of economic development (TIFs, enterprise zones, and other incentive packages) where they are being utilized to taxpayer’s money.
"The best practices for the city of St. Louis is to promote its bounty of intermodal opportunities here, railways, airways, waterways, all the infrastructure, the low cost of doing business here in the city of St. Louis.
"This is, in particular, what prospects are looking for: can they make money?
"And it still comes back and dovetails with a common sense approach and analysis that you can’t make money when people perceive that there’s violence. Therefore, we have to get rid of the violence element so we can distinguish ourselves to let people know that we are here to do business and have a viable workforce.”
On Proposition 2, a use tax that would be used to fund a soccer stadium, among other initiatives, in the city:
"Certainly, I’m against it. I wished it hadn’t reached a point where it is now on the ballot. I believe with economic development, you have to do a thorough and comprehensive analysis. You certainly shouldn’t have knee-jerk reactions to any initiative or proposal that comes to you. I think you should look at it as objectively as possible and get as much empirical information as possible. Therefore, with MLS, when you look with the history of MLS, if someone set the proposal on your desk, you certainly have to understand and realize that MLS has not been profitable since its inception 21 years ago.
"Whoever was doing that particular analysis and negotiating with this particular project certainly didn’t have the taxpayers’ interests at heart because they were making it high-risk. Ultimately what happens is that when the project fails, the taxpayers pay for it and they’re asked for additional funding to be able to help cure the ills of what comes from the particular failed project."
On Proposition 1, a half-cent sales tax in the city of St. Louis:
"If we’re looking at aesthetic types of things or leaving legacies behind by extending a MetroLink rail system north and south where it’s really not needed at this particular point in time, I question the validity and thinking of trying to put something forward like that.
"With the financial position that we are in in the city of St. Louis, I just can’t justify adding additional MetroLink expansion when it’s certainly not needed in the functional way to get people back-and-forth to potential jobs and transportation to other parts of the area where they need to do business. Our bus system does a fantastic job in getting those areas that are disinvested in and depressed to where they need to go."
On Proposition A, to eliminate the recorder of deeds office and use purported savings to buy body cameras for police:
“I would not support it. I was asked that question recently and I’m still under deliberation because I was trying to determine how can you reduce a department, a very small, relative-size department, to cover the cost for body cameras if that’s the objective and the means to get those body cameras.
"This will probably not provide the funding. It will have a negative impact on the personnel that’s associated with it and we certainly don’t want to rob Peter to pay Paul, so to speak, and that type of philosophy in order to make up where we’ve had shortfalls in our understanding of policies.”
Proposition NS, a measure that seeks to stabilize city-owned vacant buildings:
“I believe this is another Band-Aid over a bigger wound because you’re looking at stabilization within the language and I’ve read it back-and-forth and I’m still trying to find out, where’s the specificity, where’s the focus in the language of what we’re going to do?
"They want to do a great thing but we know that the pathway to hell, an old saying, the pathway to hell leads with good intentions. There’s no specificity, that’s what is alarming to me.”
While we're at it, Curious Louis is looking for the questions you have for St. Louis' next mayor. Share them here:
St. Louis on the Air brings you the stories of St. Louis and the people who live, work and create in our region. St. Louis on the Air host Don Marsh and producers Mary Edwards, Alex Heuer and Kelly Moffitt give you the information you need to make informed decisions and stay in touch with our diverse and vibrant St. Louis region.