ST. LOUIS (KMOV.com) -- Following Tishaura Jones' win in Tuesday's mayoral race, the first African-American female mayor in St. Louis history said some aspects of administration changeover between her and outgoing mayor Lyda Krewson had already been in the works, so Jones would not be caught off guard if she won the election.
Treasurer Tishaura Jones defeated Ward 20 Alderwoman Cara Spencer in the St. Louis Mayoral election Tuesday night, becoming the first Black female mayor in the city's history.
At least one department head told News 4 Jones notified him before Tuesday's election that if she won, she would not be retaining him at his position. Jones said there are currently several positions she is looking to fill.
"First and foremost, the Public Safety Director, because Jimmy Edwards resigned," Jones said. "Chief of Staff, and several other positions. So we will be starting to conduct interviews with the mayor's cabinet later on this afternoon."
For several years, whichever mayoral candidate won the primary was essentially assured of winning the mayor's office, so candidates had several weeks to plan their transition. With the new system, Jones will have much less time to get her administration in place.
Jones will become the first Black female mayor in St. Louis history when she's sworn in on april 20th. While she inherits a city emerging from the effects of a pandemic, she said her priorities at the outset are equal; focusing on crime, recovery from COVID-19, workforce development, and education.
St. Louis had more murders in 2020 than in any year since 1993. Currently, the city is on track to record an even greater number than that in 2021. Jones talked of a regional approach to crime and working with surrounding law enforcement departments to improve the city's crime numbers.
She has pledged to bring in more social workers and mental health and substance abuse counselors, rather than adding more uniformed officers.
"We will be declaring gun violence as a public health crisis, engaging our neighbors to the west and the east, putting all of our resources together to address crime as a region," Jones said. "Also we want to make sure that we're deploying the right professional to the right call. That means making sure that the cops and clinicians program is expanded, because we also want to reduce the number of officer-involved shootings as well."
While Jones has been vocal on police reform, when asked if she'd be in favor of combining the St. Louis City and St. Louis County police departments, she said that action would be "a bridge too far" under the current climate.
However, Jones did make promise to close the city jail known as "The Workhouse" within her first 100 days. The uprising at the City Justice Center brought that discussion back into the forefront, but Jones said it didn't slow her plans to close the Workhouse.
"I think we can walk and chew gum at the same time we can repair what's going on at the Justice Center, and make the steps to close the Workhouse within the first 100 days," Jones said. "We have to, you know, recognize the elephant in the room, why we have black and separate black and white police officers or black and white organizations who are police officers and our firefighters, because if they can't trust each other then how will we? How would we expect the community to trust them? So we have to make sure that we're moving forward and having those difficult conversations and embracing our differences."