CITY HALL – City Treasurer Tishaura Jones moved quickly following her election as mayor Tuesday night to ensure that she’s ready when she’s inaugurated on April 20.
On Wednesday, Jones returned calls and texts, talked to officials she’ll deal with in the city’s top job, announced who will be on her transition committee and met with outgoing Mayor Lyda Krewson. After that meeting, in her first post-election news conference, she took questions from reporters anxious to know her next move.
“I would say the biggest challenge moving forward will be just getting things totally ready to assume office in the next couple of weeks,” Jones said in the news conference in the City Hall Rotunda. “This is a really small transition or short transition to make from one office to the other, obviously the logistics of packing one office up and moving it down the hall.”
Jones also spoke about the amount of attention her election has brought all over the country.
“We’ve seen in recent years that when a city elects a Black woman mayor, that does make national news and in a good way,” Jones said.
“That signals that the entire city is moving in a progressive manner, and we all know the type of leadership that Black women have brought,” Jones asserted, saying that Black women have been progressive and innovative. “I look forward to learning from my colleagues who are already leading cities across the country.”
Jones told the reporters that the subject of federal COVID-19 relief funds didn’t come up in the first meeting with Krewson, but that she was fairly sure it would in future meetings. The first one dealt with introductory pleasantries, Jones said.
Asked about reopening businesses closed because of COVID-19, Jones said she would like to get a briefing on the COVID-19 situation with acting city Health Director Dr. Fredrick Echols.
In addition, she said, she’ll be considering other cabinet appointees and other personnel decisions, especially for those closest to the mayor.
She plans to make an announcement about whom she plans to appoint as the new treasurer shortly before she’s inaugurated. Also, she said her current chief of staff, Jared Boyd, would continue in that role when she became mayor.
Asked about improving relations with St. Louis County, Jones noted that she had been friends with St. Louis County Executive Sam Page since 2008, when he left the state legislature and she came in.
“We either talk or text pretty frequently anyway,” Jones said. “This is an opportunity for us to work together in a more formal setting, so we’re both very excited about that.”
As for the city’s crime problems, Jones said she would immediately convene meetings involving all people, both inside and outside the city, concerned with the issue.
In their meeting, Krewson expressed concern about what would happen to her staff and department heads, Jones said. “They have jobs and families, and we will respect that as much as we can as we move forward.”
Jones also said she talked with Board of Aldermen President Lewis Reed and Comptroller Darlene Green on Wednesday about working together more closely on the Board of Estimate and Apportionment. The three will comprise that body, which makes decisions on the city’s finances.
Jones said it was better to “criticize privately but praise publicly.”
Asked about what she’d do to appeal to those who didn’t support her, Jones said, “For everybody who didn’t support me and for everybody who thinks that their government is going to leave them behind: I see you, I’m ready to serve and I will show up every day for you and serve you.”