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Race for City of St. Louis Mayor Getting Crowded

City Hall. Photo by Paul Sableman.

Now that the Federal Election is in the rearview, it's time to look forward to the Municipal Elections in March 2021. This election will bring us an entirely different voting system, as proposed by Proposition D. Prop D, passed overwhelmingly (68% to 32%) by voters in the City on November 3rd and moves the City election system to a non-partisan election where voters can select as many candidates as they want in the first round of voting. The second round of voting will see the top two vote getters move on to a "General Election" in April. This system will also apply to the numerous Aldermanic races throughout the City. The 2021 Aldermanic races will be in the City's 14 "odd number" wards. All candidates must collect signatures to be placed on the ballot.

With the news that incumbent Mayor Lyda Krewson is not seeking re-election, this leaves the Mayor's race and office wide open, and as of this story's writing, four candidates are officially in the race. They are...

  • Lewis Reed: President of the Board of Aldermen

  • Tishaura Jones: City Treasurer

  • Cara Spencer: 20th Ward Alderwoman

  • Dana Kelly: Businesswoman and Former 2018 Candidate for License Collector

While the race for Mayor at this point is significantly less crowded than the 2017 Mayor's race, the fact that Mayor Krewson is not seeking re-election means that additional candidates may enter the race to give voters more options. After all, that's what happened when Mayor Francis Slay announced he would not seek re-election in 2016.

Mayor Lyda Krewson speaking at the topping out ceremony for the PwC Pennant Building at Ballpark Village on April 10th, 2019. CityScene STL file photo.

The next Mayor of St. Louis faces issues that have long been visible in the City including a shocking increase in homicides, racial tension, division, shaky City services, not-so transparent governance, the alleged misuse of tax incentives for development projects in the City's strongest neighborhoods, the public school system, population decline, and special interests trying to have a say in the future of the City. The next Mayor will also enter office at a time when the City of St. Louis is fighting the Coronavirus (COVID-19), has undergone a Census, is witnessing a political leader shift towards younger, more progressive leaders, seeing a steady increase in construction city-wide, ward reduction, and an ever increasing homeless population.

Lewis Reed: President of the Board of Aldermen since 2007

Photo by Paul Sableman.

Lewis Reed ran campaigns for Mayor in 2013 and 2017. In 2013, he ran against then-incumbent Mayor Francis Slay and received 44% of the vote in a three-way race. In 2017, he came in 3rd place with 18% in a 7-way race for Mayor. Since then, Lewis Reed was instrumental in getting the agreement passed for the St. Louis City SC Stadium in Downtown West and has pushed the "Cure Violence" violence prevention program heavily in the City. The effort is to help reduce our crime numbers and make our community safer. His heavy push had the program approved by the Board of Aldermen in 2019. Also in 2019, he won re-election to the President Board of Aldermen position by a narrow margin against State Senator Jamilah Nasheed (5th District). Reed received 35.6% of the vote in that race to Nasheed's 31.6%. 15th Ward Alderwoman Megan Green received 31.2% of the vote in that race.

No campaign website has been launched by Lewis Reed at this time, but it is believed that his campaign will focus on advancing additional crime prevention measures, like those promoted in the "Cure Violence" program, and governing efficiently and openly. Reed will most likely be seen as the moderate in this race, coming from the wing of the City Democratic Primary that has had Mayors Slay and Krewson as well as numerous members of the Board of Aldermen over the past 20+ years.

Lewis Reed's future campaign website can be found here:

Tishaura Jones: Treasurer of the City of St. Louis since 2013

Photo from the Tishaura Jones campaign.

Treasurer Tishaura Jones is no stranger to the Mayor's race. She ran for the position in 2017 and narrowly lost to Lyda Krewson in the Primary. Ms. Jones has been seen as a contender for the office ever since 2017 with many believing that there was to be a rematch between her and Lyda Krewson. However, the surprise announcement that Mayor Krewson will not seek re-election threw the idea of a "rematch" out the window. Tishaura is favored to win the election by many people I have talked to. Even if she fails to secure 50.1% of the vote in the Primary Election in March to avoid the runoff election, which is almost impossible to do anyway, it is expected that she will win the runoff election. Of course though, this is coming from people I have messaged about the race for Mayor or come from people who have posted publicly their predictions and bets. No polls have been released showing this happening.

According to the Tishaura for Mayor website, her campaign will focus on bringing economic opportunities to the entire City and not just a select few neighborhoods. Ms. Jones also intends on "reimagining public safety", making decisions with racial equity at the center of those decisions, and lead St. Louis through recovery post-COVID-19.

Tishaura Jones's campaign website can be found here:

Cara Spencer: 20th Ward Alderwoman since 2015

Photo from Nebula STL.

One of the younger members of the Board of Aldermen, and one of the young progressives who are gaining steam in the City limits, Cara Spencer is a new-comer to a city-wide election. Having served her 20th Ward, which includes parts of the Gravois Park, Dutchtown, Marine Villa, and Mount Pleasant neighborhoods as well as the southern half of Cherokee Street, since 2015, Cara is ready to bring her fresh leadership style and insight to the Mayor's office.

Viewing things from a younger person's lens, and from the lens of someone who lives in a portion of the City seemingly split between decline and rebirth, Cara brings a different perspective to her vision for St. Louis than other candidates. According to her campaign website, Cara intends on making sure that special interest pushes (such as airport privatization) are kept out of City government, an efficient government that works with the residents to address issues and meet goals, build an economy that works for everyone across the City, reduce violence in the City, make decisions that are based on a racial equity lens, and lead St. Louis through and out of COVID-19.

Cara Spencer's campaign website can be found here:

Dana Kelly: 2018 Democratic Contender for License Collector and Businesswoman

Photo from the Dana Kelly campaign.

Dana Kelly previously ran for city-wide office in 2018 as a candidate for the License Collector's office. She ran against incumbent Mavis Thompson and received 44.4% of the vote in the August 2018 primary election. Since then, Ms. Kelly opened up the popular Reign Restaurant on Washington Avenue this past Spring.

For the 2021 Mayoral election, Dana Kelly is running as an outsider. Her platform consists of reducing crime and making St. Louis a safer City for everyone, supporting small businesses to grow the economy, rebuild the public school system in the City so it can compete with the County counterparts, aid with housing the homeless population, support equality through equity, and have an honest and trustworthy leader in the Mayor's office.

Dana Kelly's campaign website can be found here:

Who's Next to Enter the Race?

Several candidates are still expected to jump into the race for mayor but as for who, no one really knows. It has been rumored that 7th Ward Alderman Jack Coatar may jump into the race, but there have been no visible moves on his end to warrant the rumor as truthful. With filing for the office beginning on November 23rd and continues until January 4th, 2021, there is still time for many more candidates to enter the race including perennial candidates, Jimmie Matthews and Bill Haas.

The winner of the General Election on April 6th, 2021 will be sworn in 2 weeks after the election (April 20th) and will become the 47th Mayor of the City of St. Louis. The office was first held by William Carr Lane from 1823-1829. The last Independent (no party affiliation), Mayor of St. Louis was 24th Mayor Henry Overstolz from 1876-1881. The last Republican Mayor of St. Louis was 36th Mayor Aloys P. Kaufmann, who served from 1943-1949. The longest serving Mayor of St. Louis is 45th Mayor Francis Slay, who served from 2001-2017 (4 terms, 16 years).

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