Reform-oriented leaders who are currently in control of St. Louis

ST. LOUIS (AP) — The difficult task of turning around St. Louis’s destiny is now in the hands of a new era of leaders. Specifically, three progressive black women in their 40s, all transformed into racial justice.

New Mayor of Tishaura JonesThe 49-year-old, when sworn on April 20, will be the first black woman to lead the city and will work with a city council committee that includes four new members from the progressive slate elected on Tuesday.

Jones participates Kim Gardner, 46, elected as a traveling lawyer in 2016 and easily re-elected last year — and an activist of racial justice Cori Bush, 44 years old. Last year, the expulsion of long-time lawmaker William Lacy Clay in districts, including throughout St. Louis, caused tremendous upset.

“I think voters say this is the kind of leadership they want,” Jones said in an interview. You have to work head-on to move forward. “

Jones is a former Democratic state legislature and has been accounting for the city since 2013. Voters using the city’s new nonpartisan election format in the March primary advanced Jones and Alder Woman Karaspencer for the general election on Tuesday.

Bill Hall, an adjunct professor of political science at Webster University, said voters in St. Louis are clearly unsatisfied with the current state of the city, which is one of the worst murder rates in the country due to its declining population. It was.

“St. Louis, unlike other cities, has a history of racism. Unlike many cities, St. Louis is still struggling to break these ancient chains.”

St. Louis is roughly evenly divided into white and black residents, with whites accounting for 48% and blacks accounting for 45%. But racism has plagued St. Louis through its existence in effect. Jones called it “the number one problem that prevented us.”

At the heart of Jones’ reform plan is a major rethinking of the city’s criminal justice system. She vowed to end St. Louis’ “arrest and imprisonment” police model. She wants treatment rather than punishment for drug users and is more focused on social welfare programs to support areas with the highest crime rates.

Jones’ plan is similar to the police changes promoted by Bush and Gardner, and critics question how violent cities can consider reducing police.

Jones also raised the possibility of replacing John Hayden, the police chief hired by Mayor Lyda Krewson.

A moderate Democrat, Cruson chose not to seek a second term.

Jones cited the need to reestablish trust in the police. This includes trust within the department, she said, with the majority of officers being members of the St. Louis Police Officers Association, but most of the approximately 260 black police officers have their own association, the Ethics Police Association. Said that.

She said the city “has to deal with the elephants in the room. How do you have separate police unions for black and white police officers?” If they can’t trust each other, how can we expect the public to trust them? “

Jeff Roorda, Business Manager of the St. Louis Police Officers Association, has frankly criticized both Gardner and Jones. In 2017, Roorda called Jones a lazy “police hater” and “racism” on Facebook. Jones says Ruda “must go”.

Roorda declined to comment. In a statement, the association’s president, Jay Sharp, promised to work with “people who are willing to work hard to make the city a better and safer place to live.” Stated.

Gardner was elected on a platform similar to Jones and has been virtually in conflict with law enforcement since taking office. She launched a campaign to rebuild confidence in the criminal justice system when the area was still recovering from anxiety after police shot dead a black teenager Michael Brown in nearby Ferguson two years ago. After going, he was first elected in November 2016.

Gardner has stopped prosecuting nonviolent crimes and low-level drug cases and has terminated his bail system. She was also not allowed to bring the case to her office after a national group accused police officers of posting racist and anti-Islamic comments on social media. Offended the police by making a list.

Despite tension, University of Missouri-St. Louis criminologist Rick Rosenfeld believes police may accept some changes. For example, police may understand the benefits of sending social workers instead of police officers to some phones involving homeless people, Rosenfeld said.

Jones’ reform efforts are supported by the election of four new progressive city councilors as a result of a “board-turning” campaign led by city council member Megan Green. She said that progressives now make up the majority of the 28-member committee and hope that St. Louis will become a major criminal justice reform trendsetter.

“I’m probably the most optimistic I’ve had for a long time since I won,” said Green, who took office in 2014. “I think there’s something good about St. Louis.”