Neighborhood: Tower Grove South
Occupation: Alderwoman/Graduate Teaching Assistant
Political experience: I have represented the 15th Ward in 2017
Your take on crime: Crime in our city remains too high and one thing is clear: the status-quo arrest/incarcerate model of public safety is not working. While St. Louis has some of the highest per capita crime rates in the country, we also have some of the highest per capita spending rates on an ineffective public safety model that has created tension and mistrust with our Black and Brown communities. Studies and real-life examples from around the nation, and the world, have shown that policies that are “smart on crime” show much better results than ones that focus on being “tough on crime”. We cannot out-police our issues with crime, we instead need to reevaluate and reallocate funds away from a system that clearly isn’t working, and try a new, bold path forward. While 54% of the City’s General Fund is allocated to Public Safety, only .05% is spent on Health and Human Services. At the same time, St. Louis has some of the highest rates of infant mortality, STD/STIs, and gun violence in the Country, and in 2017, nearly 75% of the heroin overdose deaths in Missouri occurred in our City. All of these issues can be addressed by greater investments in public health. I support the implementation and expansion of public health approaches to public safety, such as Cure Violence, though I have concerns about the current implementation of the program given that many of the grassroots partners who helped bring the program to St. Louis have stepped away due to their own concerns. We not only need these types of programs in St. Louis, we have to make sure that they are implemented correctly by organizations that have the grassroots level connections to address intracommunity violence.
Your take on city finances: The City of St. Louis is about to see an influx of $500 million in federal funding, nearly half of our annual operating budget. The first thing the we need to do with this funding is to address deferred maintenance and sore up pension obligations to ensure a healthy financial position for the City in the long-term. The second area where we need to concentrate funding is to use funds to address immediate needs caused by the pandemic and economic downturn, such as affordable housing, rent/mortgage assistance and small business assistance. This funding needs to be targeted toward people and businesses who are part of historically marginalized communities. Last, but not least, this funding needs to be used to invest in data-driven programs that address the root causes of crime, such as building upon the new partnership the city has with BHR that diverts mental health calls from our 911 system. This needs to be expanded to include other types of responses that do not require police intervention, such as homeless outreach, substance abuse, and other issues associated with poverty.
Your take on the city’s COVID-19 response: The City has overall done a good job with COVID response in spite of not always having a good partner to work with in the State of Missouri. In the future, I would like to see more regional collaboration between with the City and County for COVID response.
Where do you place yourself on the political spectrum? – Progressive, moderate, conservative, liberal? Progressive/Democratic Socialist