ST. LOUIS – Andrew Jones may not have experience in government, but he thinks he’s got something better.
“Thank goodness I’m not involved with government, because for the last 60 or 70 years, the city has been plummeting because of political malfeasance, incompetence, failures, philosophies that don’t work,” said Jones, a resident of the Botanical Heights neighborhood, who also made an unsuccessful run for mayor in 2017.
“Four years ago, we were at a point of a crossroad. Now we’re at a point of no return,” Jones said. “I can see the signs, because I’ve been an economic development practitioner, business development practitioner for over 25 years, and I see as clear as anything that shows that we’re on the precipice of being a reflection of those cities that were once great and have fallen off the cliff.”
Born in Cairo, Ill., and raised in East St. Louis, Jones is vice president of business development and marketing for Southwest Electric Cooperative in Greenville, Ill.
Jones earned a bachelor of science degree in economics with a minor in business administration from Lincoln University in Jefferson City. He has two advanced degrees from St. Louis University, a master’s of arts degree in international business from Webster University and a master’s of business administration from Washington University’s Olin School of Business.
Besides the general decline of the city, Jones said the overwhelming refrain he heard from people while he was gathering signatures to run for office was about what he would do about violent crime in the city.
“What you will hear from other candidates, they will tell you about the peripheral things,” Jones said. “They’ll talk about social issues, human rights issues, all those areas that need to be taken care of, but it’s like a triage scenario.” In a hospital, the person with the massive heart attack is treated before the person with a broken foot, he said.
Most of the crime is committed by a tiny percentage of people, he said.
He would rely on the police to do their jobs and turn things around. They have done a phenomenal job, he said.
“The police aren’t to blame, it’s leadership,” Jones asserted.
Speaking of tax breaks for businesses, such as tax increment financing, Jones said plans for economic development were important.
“You never lead on economic development with any incentive plans. None whatsoever. That’s the last resort,” he said. The city could use incentives if it’s in close competition with someone else, Jones said.
“The city of St. Louis does not have an economic development plan,” he said. “They just cobbled something together here recently, and they’re submitting that as a plan, but that’s a general boilerplate type of plan.”
Speaking of the Delmar Divide, Jones said the city could have bridged that divide if it really wanted to do so.
“If leadership was really serious about the Delmar Divide by solving those issues of disparity of treatment for certain areas of the city, it would get it done,” Jones argued. “But if you’re not serious about it, you’ll never get it done, and you’ll see the cascading impact that has beset the city of St. Louis.”
Jones said there was a need for a comprehensive community development plan, a business development plan and an economic development plan to eliminate disparities and include everybody.
Jones said that bridging another gap – between the city and the county – was possible with sincerity. It is important to acknowledge the many negatives the city has in a relationship with the county, he explained.
“The county does not trust the city, and I say, when you look at what’s happening with the city, they have an absolute right because they understand about the malfeasance, they understand about the disparity of treatment,” Jones said.
Leadership is also needed to stop the population decline, Jones said.
For more information about Andrew Jones, go to andrewjones4mayor.com.