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Krewson, Who Will Seek Re-Election As St. Louis Mayor, Talks Merger, Equity, Priorities For 2019

St. Louis Mayor Lyda Krewson joined "St. Louis on the Air" on Thursday, Jan. 17, 2018.
Carolina Hidalgo | St. Louis Public Radio
St. Louis Mayor Lyda Krewson joined Thursday's "St. Louis on the Air."

About seven weeks out from St. Louis’ March 5 primary race between several city politicians vying for Board of Alderman president, Mayor Lyda Krewson declined to specify on Thursday’s St. Louis on the Air which Democrat will have her vote.

“I haven’t made an endorsement yet,” she told host Don Marsh with a laugh. “It’s almost two months away, Don.”

Krewson did confirm that she plans to run for a second term that would begin in 2021.

“Of course, yes, I am,” said Krewson, who became St. Louis’ first woman mayor in April 2017. “And you know, you can’t get everything that you want done in four years.”

She added that “politics in this country and in this city as well is a lot less civil than it used to be” and referenced a St. Louis Post-Dispatch article that termed her “Mayor Mild.”

“I’ve always been frustrated by [that] … I don’t think I’m mild at all,” Krewson said. “What I do think is that I’m civil and I’m fair. So I don’t think that what we’re seeing in terms of tone is very helpful to the way we all go forward.”

Krewson gave an update on the state of the city and her priorities for 2019 over the course of the in-depth conversation – and said she was encouraged by the focus on workforce development and infrastructure during Missouri Gov. Mike Parson’s State of the State Address Wednesday afternoon.

“Both of those things are very big topics for St. Louis,” Krewson said, “and so I think to the extent particularly that the state can help us with those things, that’s encouraging to me.”

She expressed favor toward a forthcoming proposal from the organization Better Together seeking to reunite St. Louis and St. Louis County.

“The idea here is to take … the old city and the old county and put it together as a new city, one new city,” Krewson said. “We’d have a population about the size of Dallas. We’d be the ninth or 10th largest city in the country. We would be making big decisions together, all thinking as one, at least city and county thinking as one.”

She emphasized that having “one police department, one municipal court system, would allow us to have consistent standards, consistent training and much more standardized approach” to those aspects of local and regional government.

"What's being proposed [by Better Together] is a new type of county – one that doesn't exist in the state constitution as it is now – and so that has to be a statewide vote as I understand it."

The potential for a statewide vote on the matter has drawn pushback from Missouri legislators, and the mayor said while she “understands the concerns,” she doesn’t see a way around it.

“What’s being proposed is a new type of county – one that doesn’t exist in the state constitution as it is now – and so that has to be a statewide vote as I understand it,” Krewson said. “A statewide vote is how the City of St. Louis got control of its police department. It’s how we got home rule. It’s how we do a number of things, because we live in the state of Missouri and we live under the constitution of the state of Missouri.”

She sees a great need for more early childhood education after seeing the recently released results of a yearlong Equity Indicators project in which St. Louis scored a 46 out of 100.

“I think it confirmed a lot of things that we know … and that is [that] your opportunities and your lifestyle in our community have been and continue today to be somewhat determined by where you’re born, what ZIP code you’re born in, what your race is, what your parents do for a living, et cetera,” Krewson said. “We know that that is the case. So we’ve measured it. You can say it’s not very flattering – I would agree with that.

“I look at it in a different way, which is that it helps us pinpoint even more what we need to work on. Intuitively we know that we need much more early childhood education. And if you ever doubted that, take a look at the Equity Indicators report.”

The mayor also touched on the ongoing exploration of airport privatization; efforts to manage the thousands of vacant parcels in the city; a downturn in violent crime in 2018 compared to 2017; an aldermanic bill that would provide resources toward neighborhood stabilization; homelessness in the city; and several other topics.

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 Alex HeuerEvie Hemphill and Lara Hamdan give you the information you need to make informed decisions and stay in touch with our diverse and vibrant St. Louis region.

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Lara is a producer for "St. Louis on the Air" at St. Louis Public Radio.
Evie is a producer for "St. Louis on the Air" at St. Louis Public Radio.

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