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St. Louis Alderwoman Spencer To Challenge Krewson For Mayor

St. Louis Alderwoman Cara Spencer announced plans Monday on St. Louis on the Air to challenge Mayor Lyda Krewson for the city's highest office.
Carolina Hidalgo | St. Louis Public Radio
St. Louis Alderwoman Cara Spencer announced plans Monday on St. Louis on the Air to challenge Mayor Lyda Krewson for the city's highest office.

Updated at 1:45 p.m. Jan. 13, with comments from Spencer

Cara Spencer, an alderwoman from south St. Louis, will challenge Mayor Lyda Krewson in 2021.

“I want to live in a city that works,” Spencer, D-20th Ward, said Monday on St. Louis on the Air. “St. Louis is uniquely poised to be the next fastest-growing city. We are a great old city, but we’re broken in a lot of ways, and I’m running for mayor to fix that.”

Spencer is the first Krewson opponent to announce a run for the office. Krewson told St. Louis on the Air last year that she intended to seek re-election.

Spencer was first elected to the St. Louis Board of Aldermen in 2015, beating longtime Alderman Craig Schmid to represent the ward that covers parts of Dutchtown, Gravois Park, Marine Villa and Mount Pleasant. She defeated a challenger last March by a wide margin.

Spencer has been a vocal critic of efforts to lease St. Louis-Lambert International Airport, a process that Krewson put on hold last month. Spencer said that victory factored into her decision to run.

“What was most remarkable about that was the collaboration and coordination of a lot of different groups of people,” she said. "It really marked for me the beginning of a new way of doing business and getting things done collaboratively and collectively across what are typically siloed groups of people.”

Spencer faces a steep fundraising disadvantage. Her latest quarterly report, filed in October, shows her with less than $7,000 on hand. Meanwhile, Krewson had more than $620,000 in the bank as of October. The mayor has also shown an ability to attract large donations.

A spokesman for Krewson said she stands behind her track record of improving basic city services like trash pick-up and addressing pressing issues like vacant buildings.

Filing for the 2021 municipal primary opens Nov. 23. The election is March 2, 2021. In heavily Democratic St. Louis, whoever wins the primary generally wins the election. 

It's not clear if Krewson and Spencer will have additional opponents. A campaign official for Treasurer Tishaura Jones said her focus was currently on re-election. Board President Lewis Reed could not immediately be reached for comment. Alderman Jeffrey Boyd, D-22nd Ward, said he was not interested in running. All three have previously run for mayor.

Spencer said she would welcome a crowded primary.

“We have been on autopilot for far too long,” she said. “The more voices and the more perspectives we can bring to the table to talk about the trajectory of St. Louis, and a new positive, forward-thinking direction, I think that is going to be better for everyone.”

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Rachel is the justice correspondent at St. Louis Public Radio.

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