CITY HALL – Looking two years ahead to her 70th birthday, Mayor Lyda Krewson decided one term as mayor was enough.
In a press conference Wednesday afternoon outside City Hall, Krewson said she would retire after her term ends in April. She stepped into the job in 2017.
She said it had been “my huge honor” to be the city’s first female mayor, and she gave credit to St. Louis residents and officials.
“It’s the people who make it so great,” Krewson said.
Krewson turned 68 on Nov. 14, and she said that milestone had prompted some deep thought.
“Birthdays are good, and of course they also make you think about the future. What comes next?” Krewson said. “So after a lot of thinking and a lot of discussion with my family, I have decided to retire in April and not file for re-election.”
Krewson recalled the seismic change fate dealt her in 1995 when her first husband, Jeff Krewson, was killed by a would-be carjacker in front of their home; she and their two young children were also in the car.
“My husband was an architect. I was the CFO of an international design firm. Then, in the blink of an eye, our lives changed forever,” she said.
She decided to stay in the city, and in 1997 she was elected 28th Ward alderwoman, a job she held until she was elected mayor in 2017.
In two decades when she was on the Board of Aldermen, the board made hard decisions that helped the city recover from two recessions. She encouraged economic development in her ward and in the city. She pushed for a law banning indoor smoking and worked to reduce the size of the Board of Aldermen.
As mayor, she’s dealt with civil unrest and the COVID-19 pandemic. After the death of George Floyd, she’s been a target for protest, and some have called for her resignation.
Krewson said her decision was not influenced by the recent months of protests against her after she read in a Facebook Live briefing the names and addresses of protesters who wanted the city to defund the police department.
She is not making any endorsement, at least not yet, of any mayoral candidate.
The passage on Nov. 3 of Proposition D establishes nonpartisan elections for the offices of mayor, comptroller, aldermen and president of the Board of Aldermen, so the top two vote-getters of whatever party in each race will then have a runoff contest.
Krewson said that she thought having such a runoff election was a good idea but that approval voting might take some work. In approval voting, people vote for as many people as they want in the first of two rounds. The top two vote-getters advance to the runoff.
“Elections are about the future,” she said.
“Serving as mayor these past four years has been far and away the biggest honor of my life,” Krewson said. But after the rough-and-tumble of politics, it may be time to savor private life.
“Maybe I’m going to be taking more walks,” she suggested.