St. Louis has a new mayor, now what?
The election is over. The work is not.
St. Louis has elected its first woman mayor. Regardless of how that makes me feel, the fact of the matter is, Lyda Krewson will be the next mayor of St. Louis. While many St. Louisans will celebrate her victory as a sign of progress, many of us who organize on behalf of the most marginalized are worried about the policies Krewson will enact during her first term as mayor. The majority of St. Louis did not vote for Krewson in the March primary, but an oversaturated pool of black candidates gave her a slight advantage. 888 votes to be exact. It is true that I personally wanted Tishaura Jones over Lyda Krewson, but we must deal with the reality of the situation now. Some will say we need to give Lyda a chance. There is some truth in that statement. I believe that we should give Lyda a chance — to prove that she understands the majority of St. Louis voted against her moderate policy platform and voted for innovation and progress. I believe that we should give Lyda the chance to meet with the candidates who turned out a large diverse voter demographic and figure out ways to work together to implement the change people voted for. We all know that the very white, conservative super south and fake white progressives from the central corridor carried Lyda to a victory and that demographic is not a true representation of the entire city. We cannot afford another mayor that ignores thousands of people based on their race, class and locality. We cannot afford it and we will not accept it.
In the #wokevoterSTL mayoral debate in January, we asked Lyda Krewson if she supported St. Louis becoming a sanctuary city. Her answer basically stated that she supported the rights of undocumented people but feared losing federal funding by becoming a sanctuary city. While undocumented people come to mind first when we hear the words “sanctuary city,” it is important that we challenge ourselves to expand the definition of sanctuary. St. Louis has not been a safe city for large pockets of its residents for far too long. In St. Louis, the rights of most marginalized continue to be infringed on and ignored.These communities include undocumented people, homeless people, black people, Muslims, queer people, trans folks and so many more. To truly provide sanctuary for all of these people, we cannot continue a trend of over policing, which means Lyda cannot continue to call for the addition of 200 police to the St. Louis Police Department. More police will not create a safer city because the police continue to be an oppressive force for poor communities of color. Instead of investing million of dollars in a an institution we know is broken, we need to invest in holistic models that have proven results in deterring violent crime and programs that don’t criminalize the poor but invest in them. The call for more police aligns with Jeff Sessions and Donald Trump’s “law and order” agenda. St. Louis can never be a sanctuary city if we continue to give more power and money to the police. This city needs an innovative, community driven plan to the address the issues that plague our neighborhoods. We need a bold, unapologetic leader who will stand on the side of truth and justice and not cower in the face of bigotry and empty threats. We need a mayor who has a profound analysis of class and race and not one who only uses terms like racial equity in speeches. We need policies that actually put those words into action and we need it to happen now.
Our next mayor must must serve all of St. Louis. All 28 wards and the more than 300,000 adults and children that reside in them. We cannot have another mayor that ignores the needs of the half the city. Almost three years ago a movement was born in the streets of St. Louis and people around the world are watching to see what we will do next. More importantly, the people of St. Louis are watching because they deserve leadership that will guide us into an era of progress. We cannot allow business to continue as usual. No mayor runs this city, the people do. While some will celebrate Lyda’s elections, those of us who have worked to improve the material conditions of black people and other oppressed communities need to get ready to hold this administration accountable. We have the power to set the agenda and we will no longer be ignored. We must be bold in our struggle for a better city. We must demand the change we want to see. If we do not get it with this next administration, we will be back in 4 years and we will not lose. The election may be over, but the work has just begun. I’m ready, are you?