A 49-year-old public servant, Tishaura Jones, will become the first Black woman to lead St. Louis, Missouri as mayor of the city in the 257 years of its history. Jones, a Democrat, beat another member of her party, Alderwoman Cara Spencer on April 6 in the mayoral election.
Speaking after unofficial results projected her to carry the day, Jones said “[m]aking history as the first Black woman mayor is not lost on me at this moment. I’m also looking at how little girls will look at this moment going forward and will see that they can be anything and that they have a mayor that looks like them.” Jones has said she was inspired to run based on her own experience as a mother whose teenage son had a gun pulled on him by a police officer.
The homicide rate is high in St. Louis and one would believe it would feature prominently in the tasks Jones sets about to overcome. She has also spoken of her eagerness to take on asymmetrical wealth and services distributions.
“You can instantly see the difference in investment on separate sides of the street [Delmar Boulevard which is thought to define the boundary of privilege in St. Louis]. It should not matter where you live, you still should be receiving the same services.”
St. Louis is a majority-minority city, which means Black people and other racial minorities in America constitute the bulk of people in the city. It is actually nearly half Black. So who is Jones and why does the task of transforming St. Louis encourage her?
Jones was born in 1972 in St. Louis and is the only child her parents. She herself is the mother of just one. After graduating from Hampton University in 1995, Jones opened a restaurant. But according to her, family troubles, including her father’s legal challenges and her mother’s ill-health, as well as the strains of funding her establishment, meant that the restaurant would close by 1999.
She became an executive trainee at a hospital, got her masters in Health Administration and went into the Missouri State Legislature as a Democrat in 2008. All this while, Jones was also a practicing financial advisor. It was in 2012 that she was voted into office as City Treasurer.
This year was not the first Jones tried to be mayor of St. Louis. She ran in 2017 but lost the Democratic primary to Lyda Krewson, a white woman. Krewson eventually became the mayor of the city. The 2017 race was marked by Jones’ fracas with The St. Louis Post-Dispatch that saw the newspaper ran several critical editorials on her campaign. She called these publications racist and sexist at various points in time.
Jones has already said that she does not believe white people have what it takes to manage a majority-minority city, prompting Fox News to go after her in the last week.