A Guide to St. Louis' Mayoral Candidates
Ahead of the April 4 election, learn more about the candidates vying for Room 200.
Lyda Krewson
Lyda Krewson is the CFO of the architecture firm PGAV and has been alderman of the 28th Ward since 1997. As alderman, she pushed through initiatives such as a smoking ban and a campaign to discourage panhandling. She has attracted several development projects to the city, often by advocating for tax incentives for developers. She has been a vocal supporter of stricter gun laws and says neighborhood safety will be her top priority as mayor. Krewson has raised the most money of any mayoral campaign ($576,000-plus) and is leading the race according to polls commissioned by The Missouri Times.
Select endorsements
Mayor Francis Slay
St. Louis Police Officers’ Association
Gregg Daly, Collector of Revenue
24th Ward Ald. Scott Ogilvie
Headlines
Alderman Krewson says city can't arrest our way out of crime problem and more
Slay endorses Lyda Krewson for mayor

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Note: Responses visible below are summaries. To see full response, select “more."
What will be your top priority as mayor?
Neighborhood safety
“Neighborhood safety. There are two parts to that. The first part is prevention. That means after school jobs, summer jobs for young people, alternative dispute resolutions, alternative sentencing, more recreation and youth programs, etc. The second part is law enforcement. The city is currently budgeted to have 1,300 police officers. Right now, we have fewer than 1,200. So, we’re over 100 officers short. This is because our officers are not paid competitively with St. Louis County. We have a residency requirement. So, we need to hire additional officers. We need to have a more diverse police force with more training—implicit bias training, de-escalation training, etc.—so we can work to mend the frayed relationship we have between our communities and law enforcement.”
Should St. Louis devote more resources to public transportation?
Yes. Krewson supports the north-south MetroLink expansion, but believes that it is a long-term solution. She says that bus service should also be expanded to accomodate needs more quickly.
“We need more public transportation. I’m a supporter of the north-south Metrolink expansion, but also a supporter of expanded bus service. The north-south Metrolink is still years away. In the meantime, we need better and more bus transportation to connect people with jobs and schools and doctor’s appointments and other things folks need to get to.”
How would you expand city residents’ access to quality job opportunities?
Krewson wants to increase residents' access to public transporation, reduce crime, and encourage startups to scale up. Apprenticeship programs are needed to provide labor force to support projects such as the construction of the new National Geospatial-Intelligence Agency site, she says.
“Better public transportation helps connect people to more and hopefully better job opportunities. But it also, in my mind, would require working very closely with the county, at a minimum, and maybe outlying counties as well, to bring more jobs into the region. People live in the county and work in St. Louis city; people live in the city and work in the county. And so, it doesn’t matter necessarily where that job is—if it’s a good job and fits the skillset of the individual—we need to expand that. We need to pay attention to the businesses that are here now, and make sure they have what they need to stay here. Providing a safer city will help encourage jobs to stay here and it will encourage new businesses to come to St. Louis.

"Secondly, St. Louis, as called out in many lists, is a good community for startups. So, we need to create an environment for those startups to scale up. Enabling a business to go from 1–2 employees to 8–9 employees—that’s a significant growth if you do it over a number of companies. All of these things—neighborhood safety, transportation, job opportunities—are so related. You have to work on all these things simultaneously.

"You have to have an educated workforce and we’ve got a great opportunity with the National Geospatial-Intelligence Agency. We were successful in retaining that in the city. That has the added benefit of having an almost 2 billion dollar construction project. The labor unions have committed to a minimum 38 percent minority participation on that project. And so, we need to begin recruiting people into apprenticeship programs, so that when this construction project actually begins being built, we will have a workforce ready to support it. That project on top of the other construction that’s going on here has the opportunity to essentially train a whole new generation of workers to not only get a job, but have a career.”
What criteria should be used to determine which developers receive tax incentives?
Krewson says that the city should strive to give developers the smallest tax break possible that doesn't kill the project. A project should only receive tax incentives if it will provide a positive cash flow to the city shortly after it's completed and increase the quality of life in the surrounding community. She says more and better incentives should be used to encourage development in areas north and south of the city's central corridor.
“Tax incentives, whether it be a TIF or tax abatement—they are about half science (running the numbers) and half art. The art part of that—the city should strive to give the developer as little incentive as possible without killing the project.

"Certainly, there should be more incentives in area’s of the city that need more development—both north and south of the central corridor. You should get more of an incentive there than you do in the central corridor. But you have to take every project based on its own situation and look to see how that project benefits the city. It ought to, one, provide a positive cash flow to the city very early on after the completion of the project.

"The second part is to take a look at the quality of life issues that have to do with the project. Maybe you’re taking a piece of property that’s a detriment right now, and then creating a situation where the quality of life is better in that area after the project.

"There is a lot of scrutiny that should be given to tax incentives and the scrutiny should be like the evaluation upfront—part numbers (Is the city better off financially?) and part art (Does it increase the quality of life?).”
Why do you support (or not support) SCSTL’s proposal for the soccer stadium?
Krewson says it would be great for St. Louis to have a soccer team, but prefers if the city did not own it. She approved the measure that will let voters decide in April whether a use tax increase would help fund a new MLS stadium.
“I love soccer. I think many St. Louisans love soccer. I think that soccer is certainly a growing sport, a sport of the future. From that point of view, I hope St. Louis is able to have an MLS soccer team.

"On the other side of the coin, I would really prefer if the city did not own another stadium. The current proposal, which is going to voters in April, will ask city residents whether or not they want to use the half-cent increase in the use tax to help fund a soccer stadium. Under the proposal that is before voters, the city would own that stadium.

"I voted to ask the voters what they thought. They will have the last word on this, but my personal opinion is that it would be better if the city of St. Louis did not own the soccer stadium. All you have to do is look to the situation we have with Scottrade or with the Edward Jones Dome to figure out why it would be better for the city not to own a soccer stadium.”
What do you see as the goals of the Black Lives Matter movement, and do you support that movement?
Krewson supports the Black Lives Matter movement. She sees the goals of the movement as racial equity, a push for all decisions to take into account how they affect African Americans and other marginalized groups.
“I do support Black Lives Matter and the movement. I think the phrase Black Lives Matter is just stating that all the decisions that we make in government, and in life, should take into account how it will affect African Americans and other groups who have not received the same opportunities that whites have received.

"The goal of the movement is of course racial equity. We can all say those words, but the proof is in how are we actually going to make decisions and take that into account to make sure that there is more opportunity for every single one of us—in terms of education, economics, criminal justice, etc.”
What steps would you take to reduce violent crime in the city?
Krewson views crime in the city as one of its most pressing problems. As mayor, she says she would support prevention programs, bolster law enforcement, and continue to advocate for stricter gun laws.
“St. Louis had 188 murders in 2016 and 188 murders in 2015. But beyond those numbers, I think about the families whose lives have been changed forever. That’s thousands of people who have been negatively impacted by violent crime. In addition to the 188 murders in each of the last two years, there’s over 2,000 shootings. So, it’s certainly a huge issue. I think there are two parts to reducing violent crime. Prevention and law enforcement. (See Krewson's response to Question 1 for details.)

"There’s also easy access to guns. Most people know that I’ve spent many years trying to reduce easy access to guns. Frankly, in our state, it’s been less than 20 years ago that we enabled conceal and carry. Ever since then, it’s gotten easier and easier and easier to obtain a gun. As of January 1, 2017, the state of Missouri became the first state to go from permit carry (which requires a gun owner to have a permit) to less carry. Now anybody over 18 can carry a gun anywhere, anytime, and they don’t need any training, background checks, or permit. And that’s any kind of gun. You can open carry it or you can conceal and carry it. There’s very easy access to guns in St. Louis, in addition to many urban areas.

"At the same time, Missouri expanded the stand your ground statute. So, essentially, if you feel threatened you can shoot somebody. It’s a very detrimental situation. The NRA’s agenda for this year is to allow campus carry—grade schools, high schools, and colleges would not be able to prohibit anyone from carrying a gun at school or on campus if they have their way. The Missouri legislature has been very obliging to those messages over the last 15 years or so. It’s part of the reason we are where we are today.”
Do you think the city's medium-security prison on Hall Street ("the Workhouse") should close?
Yes, she says, but not in the short term, because many people are in there on serious charges. One way the prison's population, Krewson suggests, would be to move people more quickly through the court system.
“I think it’s fair to say the Workhouse is in pretty poor shape. Bit it’s also a fact that there are many folks there who are held on serious charges. When this ideas was first mentioned in the fall, I asked for a list of who was in the workhouse, by charge. At the time, one person was in there for first-degree murder, five people for involuntary manslaughter, 92 people for assault, two for criminal action, 210 for use of a weapon, nine for child abuse, six for assault on law enforcement, four for stalking, 15 for sex crimes, 47 for burglaries, and 142 for other property crimes.

"These are pretty serious charges. I would certainly like to see the workhouse in better shape. I would love to see it close; who wouldn’t want to see it close? Maybe that would mean that we didn’t have a population that needed to be there.

"Another thing we can do to reduce the population of the workhouse is move people more quickly through the court system. It is not uncommon for it to take a year or two before someone is either determined to be innocent and they are free to go, or they are guilty and they then go over to the state's prison system.

"If we could move people more quickly through the court system, individuals would have a resolution quicker. The city wouldn’t be paying for their incarceration. I think it’s an admirable goal to reduce the number of people in the workhouse or even close it if that were possible, but quite honestly there are a lot of people…people are not in there for running a stop sign. I think closing the workhouse is maybe a long-term goal, but not anything that would happen in the short run. You would hope that the city would have less crime in the future, so you wouldn’t have a need for it.”
How will you make sure St. Louis district public schools continue to improve?
The mayor’s office has ability to be a convener around education—to be a bully pulpit, says Krewson. She thinks that elected leadership, parents, families, institutions, and churches need to hold St. Louis Public Schools and the the city's other schools accountable.
“First, I want to say congratulations to St. Louis Public Schools (SLPS) for regaining accreditation. That’s a step in the right direction. SLPS, I believe, has the number one high school in the state, Metro High School, and there are other very good schools in the system.

"Charter schools don’t happen to be a part of SLPS, but they are public schools. Charter schools educate 10,000 kids in our city and we should also be sure that they are good. Many of them are, but a few have closed recently.

"I think the mayor’s office has the ability to be a convener around education—to be a bully pulpit. It should ensure that there are good schools, whether it is SLPS, charter or even parochial schools, where all of our kids can get a good education. So, personally, I think we all, both the elected leadership, but also parents, families, institutions, and churches, we all have to hold SLPS and other schools accountable.”
Should St. Louis city and county unite? If so, how would you persuade county residents that it’s in their best interests?
Krewson says she would convene a group of the region’s leaders to work out what would be the best way to combine. Operating as separate entities is an expensive way to deliver services, she says, and causes unnecessary competition between the two areas.
“Back in 1876, we got divorced. I think it is probably time for us to get remarried. But we have to get engaged first, and we have do the prenup and all of those things. There’s a lot to be worked out in terms of how this would work for the region. And for this question, I’m just talking about city and county; I realize the region encompasses more than that.

It’s a very expensive way to deliver services, and we can’t afford it. We need to streamline the way we deliver services in order to be able to spend money on the priorities. The new mayor should convene a working group of leaders across the region with different skill sets to try to work out what would be the best way to combine. And I’m not wedded to one particular way. I would keep an open mind about that, but I do think that what we’re doing right now is really not working very well. The fight for convention business, the fight for jobs, the fight for growth, is out there. It should not be between Clayton and the Central West End. Chesterfield and Town and Country. It should be between St. Louis and Nashville. St. Louis and Kansas City. The competition should be outside of our borders, not from within. It uses up a lot of energy that we could be using to grow our region. And growth is the key to economic success for everyone.

"So, yes, I think that the city and county should become one, whatever the form of that is we need to figure out. St. Louis county residents are smart. St. Louis city residents are smart. When they have the information, they too are going to want to grow this region. I know that there is a lot of fear out there. Fear is usually the thing that causes us to be against something. So we have to figure that out and make the case about why it’s going to be better. We’re not the first people to think about this. Louisville has done it. Indianapolis has done it. Nashville has done it. We can figure this out.

"St. Louis is at a tipping point on this subject. When I’m talking to groups in the area, and I don’t bring this up in my introductory remarks, invariably it’s one of the first questions I get. It doesn’t matter if I’m in north city or south city or in the central corridor—it’s one of the first questions I get. That tells me that this is on people’s minds. They are thinking about this. That’s a good sign for being able to move something forward. Five years ago, no one ever asked me about it. If I brought it up, most people would just roll their eyes, and say ‘Well that will never happen in my lifetime.’ Today I think we’re at a tipping point and were ready to take this on.”
Do you have any plans to improve water and air quality in St. Louis?
Krewson wants to add more teeth to the city’s current sustainability plan. She says she would advocate for the city to plant more trees, install more LED lights in street lamps, encourage recycling, and keep the water department public.
“This is a very broad topic. The city has a sustainability plan it adopted a couple years ago. But it needs more teeth. We should establish standards for energy consumption on new projects and encourage the use of environmentally friendly materials. And, if any new project gets a subsidy of any kind, they need to meet those standards.

"Secondly, it’s simple, but planting more trees. Last year, in the 28th Ward, we planted 465 trees. In the longterm, something as simple as trees will create such a green canopy, and it improves the quality of life.

"We can install more LED lights in streetlights. Seems small, but there are thousands of streetlights. A few of them have been converted to LED, and they use significantly less electricity.

"On another front, I’m told that currently we recycle about 10 percent of our waste. Just a simple thing—let’s increase that to 20 percent. Keep things out of the landfill. We could convert LRA lots (abandoned properties owned by the Land Reutilization Authority) into areas for gardening.

"Water is a huge asset that we have here. You’ve heard the phrase, ‘Water is the new oil,’ and I think that really is true. We have great access to water.

"I just read yesterday about a national policy that may impact the quality of rivers because it would allow more dumping into rivers than it has previously. All of those things we have to fight, because we have great access to water here, and we’ve got a great water department. We’re not going to privatize our water system.”
What is your favorite STL attraction?
Forest Park
Andrew Jones
Andrew Jones is the vice president of business development and marketing for Southwest Electric Cooperative in southern Illinois. He also serves on multiple boards for economic development commissions and community development groups, and is a board member for the Leadership Council Southwestern Illinois. As mayor, he plans to reduce violent crime and ensure neighborhood safety. He hopes to use the connections he’s built through his work as a business executive to analyze and resolve the issues within the city.
Note: Responses visible below are summaries. To see full response, select “more."
What will be your top priority as mayor?
Jones’ top priority will be reducing crime and ensuring neighborhood safety.
“The top priority certainly has to be crime and neighborhood safety. Our citizens are scared. We’re at a point in time within the city that outsiders are reluctant to come into the city, and the citizens and stakeholders that live within the city are certainly at a point where they are squeamish about what is happening. Certainly we have to make a point to focus on improving safety, improving and eliminating any element of violent crime so that we can go about the business of promoting jobs, jobs, jobs.”
Should St. Louis devote more resources to public transportation?
Jones believes the public transportation system in St. Louis is sufficient in serving the city’s residents. He thinks more resources could be added in the future, but for right now, tax dollars should be put toward something more pressing.
“From my research, and I’ve looked at this for years, when you look at public transportation… things are sufficient and they do an outstanding job. We’re looking at a bus system that does a fantastic job at delivering services for our citizens. We’re looking at the northside of St. Louis, where we know that it’s probably our most disinvested neighborhood within the city, and people would say that there are a lot of inequities happening there. But when you look at ridership, it is the most dominant ridership available for Bi-State. We are serving those disinvested areas, those disenfranchised areas, as well as those other peripheral areas.

"Generally, that question leads up to the north and south rail component part of it. I would say at this particular point in time, when you look at the north and south rail extension, we’re looking at adding or asking for additional taxpayer money, when we do have sufficient public transportation within the city. I think those tax dollars, if they were asked, to be utilized for something else. I am the last to ask for tax dollars when we have sufficient public transportation, and Bi-State does a fantastic job with its current busing system. And if you’re looking at improving those types of buses, improving the actual buses themselves, I think having the discussion that way— but when you’re looking at peripheral things down in the future, I think that’s something we can add and look at for later on. But right now the busing system I think is very adequate.”
How would you expand city residents’ access to quality job opportunities?
He says the first thing to do is reduce violent crime, so businesses that will bring jobs will feel safe coming to the city.
“The very first thing we have to look at is if you’re going to improve job opportunities, you have to establish that businesses are in business to make money, and they come to areas where they feel that they can make money. We’re looking at economic development, business development, community development… The prime thing that people look for is safety. My very first task in taking the mayor’s position is to eliminate this violent element of crime. We can do the secondary element of improving neighborhoods and crime prevention by dealing with those with proactive policing measures. But certainly we have to eliminate and provide jobs based on the fact that future employers will have an opportunity to feel safe in making money in those particular areas. As we talked about in the previous question, we are looking at transportation within the city. Most people have the opportunity to get to job locations throughout the metropolitan area, and the Bi-State does a fantastic job of providing that. But first and foremost, nothing can happen until we get rid of the high level of crime and the perceived crime.”
What criteria should be used to determine which developers receive tax incentives?
Jones says those incentives should be used as a last resort on a project that will deliver outstanding returns.
“[With] any type of incentives, and that’s when you’re looking at tax abatement and tax incentives, those types of incentives you don’t lead with when you’re doing economic development. When you look at the history of what’s been happening with the city of St. Louis, the best practices say that that is something that any developer would take advantage of but is not necessary when they want to relocate a business to a particular area. They’re looking at whether or not they can make money in a particular area. And St. Louis in and of itself has outstanding, intermodal opportunities, infrastructure opportunities here that provide any business the opportunities to work in an effective and efficient manner.

"But, again, I’m back to this common thing, when people are business owners and they have their employees that come to those particular locations, if they are in fear of their lives, if there’s fear that they might not be able to make a profit because of the element of crime, and things of that nature, they will not locate there. But when you’re looking at incentives, you should always use that as a backpocket, last-minute option for any business. When you look at evaluating incentives, you determine whether or not by doing a very quantitative analysis that is objective that will give you the return on investment necessary for [the] project to be even entertained at being added to something that we will use taxpayer financing for. It should be used as a last resort for a project that will deliver outstanding returns in order for us to do it. Because if conditional financing will not suffice for potential businesses to locate there, we shouldn’t be in the business of subsidizing them for not having a good business plan.”
Why do you support (or not support) SCSTL’s proposal for the soccer stadium?
Jones does not support it, because he believes it’s a project that will not return its investment. He says if taxpayers have to finance this project in order for it to stay afloat, that means it’s a bad project.
“If I am the mayor of the City of St. Louis—and we know that this project will move forward and the voters will vote on it—but if it came across my desk, and I’m involved administratively with this at the very beginning, it wouldn’t go that far. Because under my administration, we will analyze every project and every initiative that comes across our desk. But we certainly should have some level of expertise to determine whether or not it’s a non-flyer with these proposals. A soccer stadium with MLS, or just soccer period, that league has not made a profit in 21 years. So with this league not being a profitable prospect, why are we even entertaining it? Certainly there had to be something fabricated… that said this thing will make money, because they can’t get conventional loans for this project. Again, it needs subsidies, it needs us to take care of this project with the taxpayers being the ones who would have to finance it. If the taxpayers have to finance this particular project in order for it to float, that means it’s a bad project. And quantitative analysis will determine whether or not something like this will make it passed that first level of examination, and this project should not have made it passed that first level of examination.”
What do you see as the goals of the Black Lives Matter movement, and do you support that movement?
Jones is unclear of what the movement’s goals are. He supports working to integrate all citizens into the community so they have equal opportunity.
“I am unclear on what their goals are. So I’m going to answer specifically the question that you’re asking it. Their goals, I have no idea about it. They are not clear, and again, it’s almost being reduced down to a cliché. But, again, all lives matter. There are issues within the black community. There are issues within a lot of communities where we should look at trying to holistically integrate everyone into this system so they can have an opportunity to reach their maximum potential as stakeholders, citizens within this country. Period. Again, I’m not clear on what they want to achieve, what they’re promoting, but I think it’s based on a lot of incomplete information, and certainly they would have to sure up what they’re projecting to be the real issues. Because what I know of at this particular point in time doesn’t hold muster.”
What steps would you take to reduce violent crime in the city?
Jones will create a police task force that targets the small segment of criminals that commit violent crimes. He will also make sure police are being deployed effectively and utilized to their full potential.
“My immediate assignment is to assign a task force of police officers to deal with the violent criminals that we know are a very, very small segment of our community. They commit probably 80 to 85 percent of these violent crimes. And we have the manpower, we have the training to be able to deal with them. This will expand over into utilizing existing personnel that may not be optimally utilized at this particular point in time. We’ll make that determination when we get into office, but certainly we want to deploy our police personnel to effectively do their jobs. We also know these criminals are highly motivated because of the narcotics issues that are impacting the city. They’re closely related to narcotics, and we are a city of major scale, size, and scope, and we don’t have a narcotics department. Therefore there is some type of vacant area there that needs to be filled. We also don’t have a vice department within the City of St. Louis. So I certainly will look at the effective deployment and utilization of our police personnel to deal with that very small segment of criminals who commit these violent crimes. And most of those violent crimes are associated with some level of narcotics, and we have to get state-of-the-art when it comes to that. And that’s all because of leadership. Our police are fantastic. They’re well-trained. We need leadership to ensure that we deploy them effectively and we hold people accountable. And the first person that will be accountable is me and making sure that we right the ship when it comes to dealing with this level of criminality.”
Do you think the city's medium-security prison on Hall Street ("the Workhouse") should close?
Jones says before making any decision about closing the Workhouse, he would conduct research and analysis to determine if accusations against the prison are true.
“Again, I think we’re dealing with things on the peripheral. I think we have incomplete information. Just because someone says that the sky is falling doesn’t mean it’s necessarily falling. What I would do as mayor, I would certainly do the analysis, I would conduct the research to determine if a lot of these things that are being accused of happening within the Workhouse are accurate. Or is this something that normal, things fall through the crack and they happen that are unfortunate that they may happen, and we have to deal with some level of personnel. But just because there are issues with particular things doesn’t mean you collapse the whole house of cards. What we have to do is make a determination on exactly what’s happening and not respond knee-jerk because accusations have been made. We want to determine what the facts are before we can make any determination.”
How will you make sure St. Louis district public schools continue to improve?
Jones will make sure students have the neseccary foundation to learn properly. He will then work with the community and create programs to ensure parents are supporting and encouraging their children to perform academically at high levels under any circumstance.
“We know that the mayor does not have direct influence [with SLPS], but certainly we can assist in strengthening by utilizing our bully pulpit to advocate for and to ensure that we can be a participant in providing thorough inputs within the citizenry, working with the community, working to determine whether or not we have state-of-the-art facilities that are children will be involved in, making sure that our curriculum is intact, ensuring that our teachers are certified. And after that, we can certainly put together proactive programs in working with the most important element that involves the educational excellence of children. That is their homes, to work with their parents to ensure that we are giving them the level of support, advocating for them so that they will understand that they are the optimal, they are the best influencers of children performing at high levels under any circumstances—even if those circumstances are somewhat dilapidated or not the most optimal ways to live. We’re looking at getting those parents involved by discussing things with them, so that they can be the ones who get their children to move toward excellence, after we determine that the school systems are providing the necessary foundation for them to learn.”
Should St. Louis city and county unite? If so, how would you persuade county residents that it’s in their best interests?
At this particular point in time, Jones says no. If the city were to make vast improvements and become more attractive to the county, then more serious discussion about merging the two could take place.
“The St. Louis region right now today is too divided. We’re losing and have lost important opportunities to other better coordinated and governed cities. Our biggest competition are outside cities—not regional and municipal areas that touch the city of St. Louis. Right now, we’re just doing tit for tat types of things where we’ll get a particular big-box store to relocate to a particular area—things of that nature—because we’ve been given incentives here or there. But what we have to look at it is we have to make sure we take a regional approach in building up this city. And with St. Louis, the city itself proper, being the beacon of excellence that we’re trying to establish for the city, we have to ensure we have all the mechanisms in place to ensure that we are attractive to the county and to work as a region that includes southern Illinois as well, because they’re a part of this metro statistical area measurement. We have to ensure that we sure up this city to make us attractive so we can move beyond dating and get to a point where we can say that we can get married. Right now, the county is not incented to embrace us, even though we do have some peripheral things like the healthcare systems. The healthcare systems within the city and county, they do collaborative work, will continue to do collaborative work, will continue to date, will continue to see if there’s some level of synergies that we can develop. And we’ll continue to work those avenues to ensure that the city of St. Louis has turned its fortunes around. And at that particular point, we will absolutely determine and see if the county would entertain moving forward with better discussions and merging our two entities.”
Do you have any plans to improve water and air quality in St. Louis?
Jones will work with the state and federal governments to ensure sustainable development and the overall improvement of water and air quality.
“Air quality and water quality are two excellent ways for the city to work with surrounding counties and municipalities in the region to make things better. How we do that is we deal relations with state and federal organizations—and certainly we know what the dynamics are at this particular point in time, and certainly I have at this particular point some connections with the state party being Republican and the federal party being Republican—to utilize some of those existing funds that are out there to help us manage that particular region. We’re looking at sustainability across the board. We want to entertain that. And air quality, we’re talking about the quality of life for our people, our stakeholders. We want to mandate that to make sure that is very important for the health of our city and our whole region.”
What is your favorite STL attraction?
The people of St. Louis
“Believe it or not, I do a lot of travel and used to do quite a bit of international travel for work. One thing that I recognize within in the city of St. Louis, is when I arrive back here—and we don’t get enough press about—is the cleanliness of the city, the gentile manner of the people of the city. We certainly have all the attractions, from the [Missouri] Botanical Garden, the museums that we have here within the city of St. Louis. We even have the ballpark, if you go to the game. But the biggest attraction, the thing that connects me more to the city of St. Louis are the people. The people in St. Louis. When you go and you open a door for a lady in California, and she looks at you and the first response is, ‘You’re not from here.’ That tells you that you have manners that you have learned and been imparted in you that comes from this Midwestern city value system. So I would say the biggest attraction, beyond just the physical attraction, are the people within the city of St. Louis. People will say hi to you, people will speak to you, people are courteous to you here in St. Louis… People here extend their friendliness and gentleness to others. That’s the biggest attraction of the city of St. Louis to me.”
Robb Cunningham
A longtime musician who plays saxophone and calls himself the “rock ‘n’ roll Libertarian,” Robb Cunningham is currently the St. Louis City Libertarian Party Treasurer. He previously served as the Libertarian Party chairman and a member of the executive committee. He has made unsuccessful past bids for a seat in the U.S. House, as well as a 2009 bid for mayor. Cunningham prioritizes eliminating wasteful spending, and says that improving race relations would be his top priority.
Note: Responses visible below are summaries. To see full response, select “more."
What will be your top priority as mayor?
Racial trust.
“My main issue is racial trust. This is all about blacks and whites getting along, and having communication between the communities. We need low-budget projects to get people together and have conversations and talk about the big subjects. These meetings have been going on more across America since the Ferguson issue. But St. Louis really hasn't gone there and gotten the government involved. I wanna bring city down to City Hall to actually talk about the serious issues of violent crime and what is racism. The two races, black people and white people, have completely different languages. Racism itself is a completely different meaning between black people than it is to white people. If you talk to black people, you'll hear that they don't have the power to be racist. Because when they think of racism, it's institutionalized racism. Whereas for white people, racism is an attitude. Just this one issue is the beginning of having conversations. Hopefully we can bring them down to City Hall. Just to keep these conversations going is really the impetus of what I think needs to happen.”
Should St. Louis devote more resources to public transportation?
No. Cunningham says that he has no plans to devote more money towards transportation, because his Libertarian politics focus on eliminating wasteful spending.
“As a Libertarian, when you talk about money, we are gonna talk about waste. It's always been this issue of, 'Well, everybody needs more money, and we need to pay more for this, we need to pay more for that.' I'm not gonna say that public transportation is the big hit, here. But there are plenty of other issues that could be cut. Do we need more money? Let's try and work with what we have. The gas prices are down, right now. That's a big issue. We are gonna be circulating our people that don't have cars, and we wanna keep it cost effective for people that do have cars that are also paying for this. I'm not gonna say I'm gonna cut transportation, but we definitely not are going to be increasing it. That's part of what the Libertarian party does, is deal with the budget, make deals with people, and make sure everybody is able to function and live, and that we're taking care of business and not just pushing another dollar.”
How would you expand city residents’ access to quality job opportunities?
Cunningham says that the real problem isn’t a lack of jobs; it’s out-of-towners coming to the city to work the new jobs that are coming to St. Louis. He wants to disincentivize commuters by adding a five percent payroll tax on non-residents, which he thinks would leave more jobs for St. Louis residents.
“St. Louis has plenty of jobs coming; unfortunately, it's not St. Louis residents working at them. A big chunk of people that are coming to St. Louis to work are from Belleville and the County. Even the people that work for the government itself in St. Louis don't live here. So, if we need more jobs to come to St. Louis, it brings in more taxes...but if the St. Louis residents don't have any of those jobs, what is it worth? I'm going to push that we have the payroll tax for residents taken off, and add a five percent payroll tax on non-residents. It's a simple issue. If you're gonna come and work your job in another city, basically taking someone else's job, and then they're not paying taxes on their houses, their shopping, and everything else that goes on goes somewhere else...plan on paying some money towards all of our unemployed. It's gonna help a lot. C'mon, move to St. Louis! We're more than happy to bring you there, and we'll take that five percent tax off. But jobs need to be towards residents.”
What criteria should be used to determine which developers receive tax incentives?
Cunningham wants to prioritize small businesses and manufacturing industries by giving them larger tax cuts.
“Small business. This is what we talk about with bottom up tax cuts. That means the big tax cuts are going to be going toward the small businesses, and the big businesses are going to be getting smaller, little tax cuts. That's called bottom up tax cuts. We are handing off money to whoever walks into town and says, y'know, we're gonna make this big business and we're going to bring jobs, and that's fine...but we need to bring it into St. Louis and support small business. Not another big company that comes in. And then we wind up trying to figure out how to not tax them while the small business ends up with bigger taxes. Bottum up taxes support small businesses. If we are going to actually go there with the TIF money, we need to go towards small business and manufacturing, and not soccer stadiums.”
Why do you support (or not support) SCSTL’s proposal for the soccer stadium?
Cunningham doesn’t personally support the proposal and says that in order for it to pass, he would want a strong majority (at least 65 percent) to approve the plans in a vote.
“Personally, in St. Louis, if we vote for it—and that's me as a libertarian, I call myself the rock 'n' roll libertarian because I'm a compromiser. Libertarians are the party of principle. They immediately say "no" to this stuff in a second. If there is a good majority of votes (I mean over 50 percent, minimum 65 or even 75). Yeah, OK. People want it, bring it in. But right now, the vote is at 60 percent against. We have to vote for this either way. This is a dead issue that we keep talking about, when there are so many other issues we should be talking about. But the libertarian party definitely doesn't support these things. Personally, as my rock 'n' roll libertarian, I don't support it if the people don't. Let's call a vote. But the main problem with this is violent crime in St. Louis. Until we can really take care of violent crime, soccer won't work. Soccer will bring people from the outskirts, maybe people from Arkansas, but they're not going to come to a town that they're afraid they're going to get mugged, or possibly attacked.”
What do you see as the goals of the Black Lives Matter movement, and do you support that movement?
Cunningham says he supports Black Lives Matter, but also says that the movement doesn’t have clear goals and needs to focus on addressing inconsistencies within their politics.
“I think the problem is that Black Lives Matter doesn't even understand the goals of Black Lives Matter. What are the goals? We talk about social justice. Black Lives Matter started with the Zimmerman shooting of Trayvon, and it just started on Twitter. It just got big, people rolled with it. The organizers began protesting other groups when Ferguson erupted. Michael Brown. The Black Lives Matter movement was just a movement that grew into people saying, "We have a concern, and this has been going on." None of these were reported, either. Have good things happened because of Black Lives Matter? Yeah. But unfortunately, some bad things have happened. Until they really learn to deal with the riots and violence that came with it, you can't have a serious question. The bigger Black Lives movement problem is that they're not seriously supporting the black on black murders that are happening; it's just police. I think if we actually got out there and protested with the mother of every person that got shot, we would actually begin to see the white people more involved. Right now, it just looks like we need to blame the white people for shooting black people, when the majority of black people are shot by black people. Do I support them? Yes, I do. I believe that this needs to be something that needs to be more directed towards real policy. Let me just go ahead and say, the fact that we had a black president and President Obama before all this—way before Ferguson—just kinda shows how the leadership of black people are kinda clueless as to what goes on in black communities. ”
What steps would you take to reduce violent crime in the city?
“More jobs, less violence,” explains Cunningham. He believes that attracting businesses that brings jobs will require lowering crime rates, and vice versa. He suggests that the government partner with local gangs, enlisting them in managing violent crime.
“More jobs, less violence. It's a simple formula. Unfortunately, bringing those jobs in, as I was saying before, the jobs that are coming in aren't for St. Louis residents. We also have to think about manufacturing in St. Louis, get serious about making deals with people that are going to bring decent jobs for manufacturing, for small business. That has to come from people with money. We need to convince them to come to St. Louis. It's a Catch-22. They wanna say, 'Well, you lower the violent crime, then we'll come bring our business there.' And then we tell them, 'Well, we can't lower crime until you bring your business here.' So it's a matter of sitting down with the mayor, with people that have money, and make deals that everybody can be happy. It's gotta come from the top. St. Louis government is worried about bringing in tax money. They haven't really worried about the violent crime. They keep making excuses for it; they try and make bigger busts. And I would like to get involved with the gangs. The gangs are not all bad. I say that, and people think I'm crazy. But we need to sit down with the gangs and communicate and get them involved with all the violent crime that has nothing to do with their gang. This is an issue that we can stop a lot of the flow of all that's going on towards the drug dealing and get towards the violence. And sitting down with the gangs can further that project much further than trying a more hammered down...more violent work itself in trying to take care of violence. We need to talk to the gangs and have them work with us and get involved with the crime that's not theirs.”
Do you think the city's medium-security prison on Hall Street ("the Workhouse") should close?
No. Cunningham says that the real problem is how St. Louis deals with crime, and believes lowering crime rates is a better solution than either closing or renovating the Workhouse.
“You know, I'm not going to sit down and say, 'Boy, wouldn't that be nice if we could just get rid of all the prisons?' Half the persons who were arrested were arrested for marijuana. We finally stopped arresting them. St. Louis now just gives a ticket and a fine to people that have less than 30 grams of marijuana. Do they need it? It seems like every prison needs to be fixed up or closed down. Why can't we just get involved in trying to make it so we're not going to add as many people in prison? I'm not going to say we're going to close anything; we're not going to put more money into anything. We're gonna go in, and let it run, and let us deal with the bigger issues of why these things do exist.”
How will you make sure St. Louis district public schools continue to improve?
As a Libertarian, Cunningham doesn’t personally believe in public education. However, he says that “the problem with the educational system is just a problem with the neighborhoods.” He recommends rebalancing the racial distribution between public and private schools. He also advocates working with teachers, families, neighborhoods, and “everything else that is bringing education down” to improve schools.
“Once again, my rock 'n' roll libertarian... Libertarians are greatly against doing anything with public education. Yes, we need school vouchers, yes, we need school choice. But otherwise, the problem with the educational system is just a problem with the neighborhoods. Another issue is the fact that we have 85 percent of black kids in public schools. 85 percent of kids in private schools in St. Louis...that's part of the racial trust that needs to be brought together. We need to actually bring people in and communicate. And this is going to help all kinds of education. We need to expect a little more out of public teachers. We need to truly get involved with the families, and everyone that's involved, if we're going to pay for tax dollars. A lot of people are paying for this that don't have kids in school, and they don't see a result coming. If we can go to school choice, that's the real direction. Otherwise, we need to compromise, and just keep stomping away, and make sure that we get involved with teachers, and families, and the neighborhood, and everything else that is bringing education down and that is going to bring the neighborhood down.”
Should St. Louis city and county unite? If so, how would you persuade county residents that it’s in their best interests?
No. He would like to see a 75 percent favorable vote from city and county residents before changing the municipal structure.
“I am personally not for it. Once again, if the people take a vote—this is something I think we'd definitely need 75 percent of everyone involved—I'm all for it. Go ahead, throw out the vote, let people decide. I think the majority of the people in the county and the city are not for it. Basically it's a lot of Democrat politicians that are for it. The county is attempting to possibly take over itself by bringing in the city. You are pretty much—Corrigan almost won the executive spot in the county by four percent. You are essentially sending the county to the Democrats, I believe, if you do this, which I am not going to say is good or bad...but having Republicans and Democrats together is probably better in the long, run, and having all libertarians would be even better.”
Do you have any plans to improve water and air quality in St. Louis?
Yes. He wants to avoid wasteful spending by analyzing existing problems. Then, he says, if citizens are willing to vote in favor and direct tax money towards potential problems like lead paint, he’s willing to make changes.
“I am an eco-libertarian; we care about these issues. A lot of libertarians look at these issues as more fluff, all waste, more payoff—and a lot of it is. We need to concentrate on these issues and get serious about whether it's really a problem. That's the first thing. The Democrats bring all their people in who are paid by people to basically come in and say, 'Yeah, we need more money.' Republicans bring in their people and they say, 'No, we don't.' I'm willing to take the information, see what is real. And at this point, you can't say it is that much. Lead paint is actually a bigger issue, proven over time, then where water's at. Once again, let's take a vote for this. If the city is willing to put their votes out there and actually decide to pay the taxes for it, I'm all for it.”
What is your favorite STL attraction?
Jazz at the Bistro
“Jazz at the Bistro. It is somewhat of a church for me. I'm a saxophone player but also a big jazz fan. That is definitely my place. I am recommending everybody go check out Jazz at the Bistro. It's one of the top 10 Jazz clubs in the world. A lot of people don't know that.”
Larry Rice
Since 1972, Larry Rice has been the director of New Life Evangelistic Center, a walk-in homeless shelter located downtown. The shelter has been operating without a permit since it was revoked by the city in May 2015 for violating several city ordinances. The city has ordered the shelter to close by April 1. Rice has run unsuccessful bids for lieutenant governor in 1992 and governor in 2000.
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What will be your top priority as mayor?
Rice’s goal is to amend what he describes as the high amount of suffering that many in St. Louis endure daily.
“To deal with the suffering people have in the city of St. Louis. That suffering involves the murder rate, the crime rate, homelessness, the number of vacant buildings, and the misuse of tax increment financing. I just feel like right now there are so many people suffering. It’s so prevalent. And so easily forgotten. The priorities at City Hall are totally distorted. I’ve got a wide range of creative ideas for how to deal with these basic issues. The people have suffered enough, and that’s why I’ve gotten involved as a candidate for mayor.”
Should St. Louis devote more resources to public transportation?
Yes, but Rice thinks we have to study how public transportation will affect the community before supporting a certain proposal. He believes that it should not be funded through a sales tax, but rather through alternatives like a gasoline tax.
“Yes, but first we need an effective study that examines how funding the public transportation would impact the community. How would this public transportation result in neighborhood redevelopment and jobs? I want to look for alternatives to the sales tax. Right now, the measure to fund a soccer stadium and the MetroLink are on the same ballot. [In April, voters will vote whether they want to increase the use tax. Another measure on the same ballot will have to be approved to apply any of those funds to the construction of a soccer stadium.]

"You don’t combine funding for a soccer stadium and public transportation. This is a separate issue that requires major study. Let’s look at creative ways to fund it. What about a two-cent tax on gasoline instead? We want people to ride public transportation. A sales tax is the most repressive tax of all. Let’s think of other ways to fund it, rather than grouping it together on the ballot with the soccer stadium.

"It looks nice on paper, but will this public transportation really build north side? Will it really bring jobs in? Will it really get people to the jobs that they need to turn things around? Along with this, let’s come up with creative ways so that the people that need it the most can access that public transportation. For a lot of people, a couple dollars for a bus pass doesn’t mean much. But when you’re flat broke, we need to have life skill classes. We need to have opportunities for people after they attend such classes. We need to teach people how to apply for jobs. But let’s get the access to public transportation to the people that need it the most—the homeless, the elderly, the struggling. Many people can’t afford to get on it anymore. When we provide more resources to public transportation, let’s make that public transportation safe. If people are afraid to get on the MetroLink, they’re not going to use it.

"It has to be safe, accessible, and it can’t be just a tokenistic way to get people to support a soccer stadium, which is absurd.”
How would you expand city residents’ access to quality job opportunities?
Rice wants to relax the requirements needed for residents to renovate LRA properties. He wants to use Channel 10 as a way to attract people to the city and connect residents to each other. He believes gentrification is destroying the city.
“First of all, we need more people and jobs in the city. In the middle of the Civil War—as chaotic as that was—we still engaged in westward expansion through the Homestead Act. We need a similar act here concerning Land Reutilization Authority (LRA) properties. I’ve heard that there are up to 7,500 vacant lots, and they land bank these. If you want to use one of these buildings, you have to prove that you have a certain amount of money upfront to rehab that place. I say that we should be giving that opportunity to more responsible citizens. Even if you don’t finish after three years, even if you walk away, the property is going to be in better shape than it was. Vacant LRA properties are bringing down neighborhoods. The biggest slumlord in the city of St. Louis is the city of St. Louis. New businesses want to come to St. Louis. Give them some vacant lots. Let’s get it back on the tax record. They give all these tax abatements to all these major corporations, but they wont’ give away these houses? During Krewson’s 20-plus years as alderwoman and Slay’s 16 years as mayor, we’ve seen the poverty rate double. We’ve seen LRA properties land banked for developers like Paul McKee. Let’s use these properties to bring in new jobs, new people. Let’s give assistance to people who want to turn these places into productive housing. Let’s take Channel 10, which nobody watches unless you’re a political junkie, and let’s make it something people are going to watch. We can advertise new businesses on that channel. We can turn it around. We can use it to bring new jobs to the area, keep them here, and help people get to know each other.

"Let’s also do an initial survey to find out why people and businesses came to St. Louis. Let’s build off of it and expand it to help think of creative ways to bring more people into the city. That doesn’t just mean gentrification and business as usual. If we destroy the core of this city, just to attract new people, we’re just engaging in self-destruction. Gentrification is actually destroying the foundation of the city. ”
What criteria should be used to determine which developers receive tax incentives?
Developers should be required to hire one St. Louisan for every $10,000 that they receive in tax abatements. Tax abatements should incentivize investment on the north side, not just in Central West End.
“You sign an agreement that requires developers to hire one St. Louisan for every $10,000 of tax abatement that they receive. Every Monday, I’m going to host a job fair at City Hall that includes all the businesses receiving tax abatements. You’re not gong to be able to get tax abatements in the Central West End, and only hire county residents. Businesses receiving tax abatements must be expected to make investments in the north side or in other low-income areas. There has to be some sort of trade-off.

"The tax abatements are destroying our schools. We’re going to start seeing something out of all of this. The big abated properties downtown just roll over those abatements again and again and again. There’s nothing to show for it except campaign money. You go to north St. Louis, and it looks like a bombed out area. I’ve been involved in this work for 45 years.

"Decades ago, they would allow properties to hit rock bottom, and then developers would come in and “save the area.” We’ve got to stop this systematic racism that these tax abatements have directly fed into. I’m not against tax abatements, just against those that don’t benefit the citizens of St. Louis.”
Why do you support (or not support) SCSTL’s proposal for the soccer stadium?
Rice thinks funds would be better used on other things, such as improving infrastructure and bolstering the city’s police force. He would prefer the stadium be funded and owned by the private sector.
“It’s wrong because it’s a total misplaced priority at a time when we have millions of dollars in deficit spending. We spent 16–17 million to explore a football stadium. That went nowhere. We still have to come up with 12 million a year for a football stadium that was supposed to turn this city around.

"We need to be raising funds to, instead, improve infrastructure, improve police department. I want to see 200 more police officers. That’s what needs to be on the ballot.

"We’ve lost all spiritual and moral values in this community by politicians who find it so acceptable to vote for soccer stadiums. Over 100 people at City Hall earn over $100,000 a year. They can not identify with the citizens in an area that have a median annual income of $35,000. We should cut the mayor’s (and many others’) salary to $75,000. Let’s use that money to hire police officers. We can have them engage in positive ticketing when they see positive behavior.

"People are moving into hopelessness. But I’m a hope dealer, not a dope dealer. Let’s have sports, but let’s have the private sector develop it.

"We can’t raise the sales tax. It’s a repressive tax. It’s already higher than most metropolitan areas. And it deters people from coming to the city. I’ll continue to oppose the city till we start putting people over profits in the city. The people have suffered enough. ”
What do you see as the goals of the Black Lives Matter movement, and do you support that movement?
He believes that the movement is meant to remind white individuals that black lives matter. He believes that it’s hard for affluent individuals to understand those living in poverty.
“It reminds white folks that black lives matter. Look at the north side. Look at Central West End. Look at where New Life has been based for years. Now white folks want to move in and they want to shut down the shelter. They don’t require the shelters in the north side to get signatures. They only require them when there are white folks around. White people need to be reminded that black lives matter. They live in a bubble. They have no interaction with African-Americans.

"Black Lives Matter is a gift as long as it doesn’t slip into violence. I encourage people to use the ballot not the bullet.

"Black lives matter. All lives matter. Homeless lives matter. All people have been created in the image of God. We need to be awakened to this. Otherwise, we will fall into our own little bubble. Those who are affluent can’t understand those who can’t afford a bus ticket. In 2008, at the height of the recession, Krewson worked to lock panhandlers up. Now, they want to put a lock on the last walk-in shelter in mid-America. ”
What steps would you take to reduce violent crime in the city?
He would like to bring initiatives that have worked in other cities, like Operation Ceasefire and Safe Community Partnership, to St. Louis. Rice wants to hire 200 additional police officers and encourage them to build relationship rather than being an occupying force.
“I would like to see Operation Ceasefire and Safe Community Partnership take place. Operation Ceasefire has proven to be effective in other cities. In California, it reduced gun violence by 43 percent. It brings together all different members of the community. The city directly communicates with selected gang members. The city connects them with employment opportunities and social services. The best defense against a bullet is a job. We should encourage positive ticketing, so when police see good behavior, they reward it with a positive ticket, which may be a gift certificate to an area restaurant. That builds relationships. Police need to get out of cars, and we need more of them. We don’t want an occupying force.”
Do you think the city's medium-security prison on Hall Street ("the Workhouse") should close?
Rice thinks it should either be dramatically renovated or it should close. He believes a new facility should provide inmates with job training.
“They call it the Workhouse, but nobody does any work out of there. They lock people up and they leave them there. It needs to be cleaned up.

"That’s a place that needs to have major repairs, that needs to be closed down—not 1411 Locust [where New Life Evangelistic Center is located]. We need to close it down, and get it to a place where people are dealt with in humane ways. And we could deal with the Workhouse too if people had expedient trials. Poor people get stuck in there for six months to a year while they wait for their hearing. We need a homeless bill of rights that ensures the mentally ill receive adequate treatment. Let’s try to find alternatives to imprisoning people, let’s have job training opportunities there instead. We could help fix up LRA houses, so people learn technical skills. Right now the Workhouse is just a school for more crime.”
How will you make sure St. Louis district public schools continue to improve?
Rice would stop supporting tax abatements that decrease the tax money the city’s public schools receive. He would encourage more technical skill training for kids who do not plan to go to college. He would reduce the age required to participating in SLATE’s job training program to 16. He would use the mayor’s discretionary fund to help cover residents’ utility bills. And he would hire a psychiatric social worker to work at the St. Louis Public Library’s downtown branch.
“The mayor should stop signing off on all these tax abatements. I’ve been talking about this for the past 40 years. That tax money should be going to the public schools. Let’s bring in technical skills teachers in to the schools. Many of the people that come in to the schools know that they might not be college bound. But let’s give them the opportunity to get a plumbing certification, to be qualified to be a carpenter, welder, etc. I would also place a psychiatric social working in the St. Louis Public Library.

"A lot of kids drop out because they don’t see how school is going to help them. Let’s lower the age to receive job training from St. Louis Agency on Training and Employment [SLATE] to 16. We could train people while also renovating LRA lots. Renovated lots means more tax money for the schools. We need to make sure schools have adequate resources. Let’s set up public-private partnerships so that a corporation will adopt a school. I’m going to take the mayor’s discretionary fund of $125,000 to help people pay their utility bills. I’m an outsider that’s going to clean up the septic tank that exists at City Hall.”
Should St. Louis city and county unite? If so, how would you persuade county residents that it’s in their best interests?
Rice believes that the city needs to decrease its crime rate, homeless population, and vacated lots to convince county residents that unification is in their best interests.
“I’m a realist. St. Louis County isn’t going to want to unite unless we turn things around. When I cut crime, when I get homeless people jobs, when I start rebuilding the north side, the county will start knocking at the door. We have to offer the county something.”
Do you have any plans to improve water and air quality in St. Louis?
Rice advocates for increased use of solar panels by city residents. He wants to reduce reliance on coal energy and increase recycling efforts.
“Definitely. I’m a great advocate of renewable energy. Let’s put solar panels on those vacated LRA lots. Let’s show people how to be earth keepers rather than earth breakers. Let’s show people that it saves money in the long run. As electricity costs go up, solar panel costs are going down in cost.

"We’re going to encourage people to get off the grid. So, then we will have better air quality. If people don’t drive in the city as much, get away from coal power plants. Has to be a vision that the whole city is behind. I want to see a dynamic city coming together. We need to keep improving recycling efforts to reduce pollution.”
What is your favorite STL attraction?
City parks.
Tyrone Austin
Tyrone Austin is a stay-at-home dad, life insurance broker, and business owner who "creates products and programs to make people's lives better." He plans to solve many of the city's issues through his hydrogen fender program. Car owners would attach a tank behind the fender of their car; the tank would create hydrogen and cut down on gasoline use. Austin says the city would receive billions in tax revenue each month by taxing car owners' monthly hydrogen refills. Austin's other inventions include a floor tile measuring device, a unisex 3-in-1 handbag, and an arena sport called Tank Ball.
Note: Responses visible below are summaries. To see full response, select “more."
What will be your top priority as mayor?
Curbing evictions and reducing crime.
“Ending evictions and crime. Crime prevention programs, too. If Prop 1 and Prop 2 do not pass, I can still help them get a stadium without using taxpayers money. I have a program called the hydrogen car fender. It's a hollow insert tank that goes behind the fender of your car and it creates hydrogen and cuts back your gasoline use.

"It would lower your gasoline prices. The tank needs to be refilled about every two weeks. Every time the tank would be refilled you would pay a service fee. And the city can tax the hydrogen refills up to 1.5%, no matter which state the tank is being used in. [Because the city would own the technology.] This program would generate up to $30 million a month for the city. It would lower property taxes, utility payments, trash costs, etc.—all those numbers will go down because the city will not need that much additional revenue in order to operate.”
Should St. Louis devote more resources to public transportation?
Yes, he says, but the taxpayers should not pay for it. Austin would rather create more opportunities for residents to rent out scooters.
“The taxpayers should not pay for it. It's time to develop a secondary form of transportation in the city. I propose that we create a bunch of rental facilities with our job creation program that let you rent alternative transportation like 50cc scooters. We would like to rent those out to single parents.”
How would you expand city residents’ access to quality job opportunities?
He want to create a fleet of 50cc scooters affixed with various carts, such as an automative tire repair cart that would contain everything someone would need to replace a flat tire. Or a vending cart that includes a portable donut-making machine. He claims each job he creates would cost $2,000.
“The city doesn't make jobs, we invite jobs. As far as I can see, the last time we invited someone in the city to bring us some jobs was when IKEA came to St. Louis. I think we as St. Louis city taxpayers paid about $240,000 per job when you look at all the tax incentives that IKEA received. I do have job creation programs for those who are exiting the prison system and those who are willing to put down the drugs. We have a program that will take 50cc scooters, and we will attach a training hitch and a vending cart to the back of it. Some of those carts will have automotive tire repair kits on the back of them. So, if you get a flat, you can call one of them. Some scooters will have trailers on them that will have everything you need to make hamburgers, donuts, cupcakes, and more. The donuts I really love. Krispy Kreme was making like $1 million at a time, and I know how to make a portable donut-making machine and put it on the back of a scooter. I can't wait. The jobs I create will only cost $2,000. ”
What criteria should be used to determine which developers receive tax incentives?
Greater tax incentives should be given the longer the business plans to stay in St. Louis and the more jobs they plan to create.
“Longevity and the amount of jobs that they create. If you create a lot of jobs, you should get a bigger tax break. If you create less jobs, go stand over there in the corner.”
Why do you support (or not support) SCSTL’s proposal for the soccer stadium?
He supports a soccer stadium, but he doesn't want tax dollars to fund it. That being said, he says he will use part of the revenue from his hydrogen car fender program to help fund the stadium. He will also use revenue from that program to provide financial reparations to direct descendents of the slave trade.
“I don't support it because it's using taxpayer's money, but I do support a soccer stadium in the city. That's why I attached on to my program that if I become mayor, we will put tanks on the cars here in St. Louis. We will put a billion dollars, and dedicate it to building a new stadium without using taxpayers' money. And the city will get 100 percent of the revenue that comes from that MLS stadium. My hydrogen tank program creates $3.2 billion dollars every 30 days. $1 billion will be used to help build a stadium, and each month, I'll take out $1 billion dollars to help pay reparations to direct ancestors of those who were victim to the slave trade in America. There are stipulations to receive that money. If anybody in your African-American family commits a felony towards any other African-American, then your family will be excluded from the reparation funds. This is done to curb the black on black violence. So, I'm in favor of the stadium. I would like to go down there and watch Wrestlemania in the stadium once we get it built. Can't wait.”
What do you see as the goals of the Black Lives Matter movement, and do you support that movement?
Austin believes that the Black Lives Matter movement is terribly flawed. He wishes that the participants in that movement who were given media attention would have talked about the hydrogen tank he was developing at the time.
“The Black Lives Matter movement was terribly flawed because they didn't use their camera time properly. The lack of knowledge and ignorance was what drove them down the wrong path. Only the ones that said black lives don't matter were the ones that got media attention. The whole time black lives matter was getting up and running, I had the solution to the problem, but their ears were closed and their eyes were shut. We were trying to use the hydrogen car fender when Michael Brown was murdered, but their family and the people and those getting media attention did not understand, from lack of knowledge, that we had an opportunity to use the open media to let the world know that we're going to put this tank together, and we're going to stop the violence.”
What steps would you take to reduce violent crime in the city?
Austin would not provide any reparation funds to African-Americans who committed violent crime against other African-Americans. He would establish cash-free zones to deter unlawful transactions. He would also establish a program that would allow individuals engaged in a conflict to sign a contract, and fight publicly in The Dome at America's Center. All admission profits would go to the fighting parties.
“I would reduce violent crime by making it so those who committed violent crimes against other African-Americans would not receive any reparation funds. I would also like to implement cash-free zones, and cash-free zones are developed to keep the drug trade and the illegal business at bay. The only people that are against cash-free zones are the crack dealers, the illegal drug dealers, and the people who do illegal things with cash. Then, if the police see people outside making transactions, most of the time when the cops pull up they either run or swallow the drugs, so they are not charged with anything. So, now, we'll target the money versus the drugs, and then we'll end the Nixon agenda. All street vendors in these zones will be required to obtain a St. Louis city peddler's license. If the police see people without that pink card around their neck, with their ID on it, the police should search them, then take them downtown to see a judge, who will decide if they're part of the problem or part of the solutions.

"When it comes to these social kills, we're going to offer an alternative to that revenge thing that we got. A lot of these African-Americans have been raised by women, and you know, and I know how these women feel when it comes to revenge. So, when you raise a man like you raise a woman, he will raise a pistol in his hand. He hasn't taken any whoopings, can't fight, and now he's focused on revenge all day long. We need to curb that.

"For individuals who can't resolve conflicts between each other, we're going to create contracts that people can obtain at Walgreen's, Family Dollar, or your neighborhood Schnuck's store. You get these contracts, and it's a fighting contract. And it says that you're willing to put the gloves on against this individual that you feel like you need to do bodily harm to. Since we have a giant empty Rams' stadium that the city basically owns, we're going to start having those monthly fight events. We will offer a portion of the door to the people that come to fight and hash out their differences. We will have video cameras, boxing gloves, and headgear on hand. It doesn't matter if that person is a stay-at-home mom or a person that you work with or the neighborhood drug dealer. We'll promote it, we'll follow you around for a couple of weeks, do some interviews, let people know what your issue is, and then you can duke it out.”
Do you think the city's medium-security prison on Hall Street ("the Workhouse") should close?
Austin admits he did some time in the Workhouse. He does not think it should close. He would like to create special programming featuring behaviorists and psychologist that would be shown on the prison's TVs. Austin plans to also implement a program that ensures that each inmate receives a 50cc scooter equipped with a vending cart when they leave the prison.
“I did some time in the Workhouse twice. I did nothing wrong. They had no case. The Workhouse is needed. If they need to make updates to it, keep it. I have plans for the Workhouse, that's why I would like to keep it. They have a closed TV circuit that they broadcast in one area. I would like to get a team of behaviorists and psychologists, and some of these actors and actresses from around the city, and put together a series of programs to re-educate them and de-brainwash all of those young men and women in prison. We're going to re-program a lot of people before we let them out. With my program, when you get out of the Workhouse, you will get a 50cc scooter with a vending cart waiting for you to put in 8 hours anywhere in the city. I have some wonderful programs. I can't wait to implement them.”
How will you make sure St. Louis district public schools continue to improve?
Austin plans to issue tablets to high school students.
“Issue tablets to all the high school students. Manage access to tablets based on students' grades. If you have a 1.0, you can only use your tablet for school work. If you want to go on Facebook, you have to have a 2.0. If you want to talk on social media and do video chat, 2.5. If you want to have unlimited access to your tablet, 3.0 or better.”
Should St. Louis city and county unite? If so, how would you persuade county residents that it’s in their best interests?
Austin believes that after his hydrogen car fender program is implemented, the city will no longer be in debt and it will have a reduced crime rate, which will attract a merger between the two areas.
“I have a program for that. Once we get those tanks on those cars, and we generate that $3 billion every 30 days, we will have a reason for St. Louis county to want to unite with us. We won't be in debt, we will have extra revenue, and there will be a drop in crime. We will compensate any government officials whose services are no longer needed after the merger.”
Do you have any plans to improve water and air quality in St. Louis?
Austin says that the hydrogen car fender program he is proposing will make cars far more environmentally-friendly.
“Yes, with the hydrogen tank systems on all our cars, or more than half of them, your car will burn cleaner, more efficient, and produce less greenhouse gases. It will also clean your engine, so your car will run better. The hydrogen is a great plan for this city. Over anything else, we should crowd fund that first, so we can start making some of that revenue.”
What is your favorite STL attraction?
I enjoy flying kites at Rose Park Recreation Center.
Johnathan McFarland
Johnathan McFarland is the founder of Scene Everywhere, a nonprofit that works with at-risk youths in St. Louis to develop self-sufficiency through art- and skill-based education. He is also a Green Party Committeeman for the 9th Ward and a St. Louis City representative for the Missouri Green Party. His top priorities as mayor will be to improve education, the economy, and to create a more inclusive city administration. He has also created a proposal to develop the city’s north riverfront into an entertainment park that will provide jobs and grow the economy.
Note: Responses visible below are summaries. To see full response, select “more."
What will be your top priority as mayor?
Education, the economy, and creating a more inclusive city administration.
“My priorities are education, the economy, and creating a more inclusive city administration. We should be considering the needs of the city, and the best way to do this is to ensure we have a method of communications that's efficient with all our city's residents. That's why as mayor, I will employ an online registry for St. Louis residents to log in in order to complete surveys regarding important issues, make proposals, notify us of items in the city that need review and possibly be repaired.”
Should St. Louis devote more resources to public transportation?
Yes, the MetroLink should be expanded to run north and south, says McFarland. He thinks basic city buses should be replaced with electric or hybrid buses.
“Yes, St. Louis should absolutely devote more funding to public transportation for a lot of reasons. The MetroLink needs to be expanded to run north and south. We can't ignore that any longer. We also need added bus lines. And I believe we should begin the process of replacing our basic city buses with electirc or hybrid buses. People can lose their jobs because of inefficienty of our public transit system. And I would like to create… vouchers to indicate when the bus is running late due to failure of our Metro transit system. Another issue is our air quality. St. Louis has some of the highest levels of pollution in the country. We have highways that spend hours in gridlock during peak travel hours. Those things can be alleviated by improving and encouraging use of our public transit system.”
How would you expand city residents’ access to quality job opportunities?
McFarland hopes to reopen schools, increase teachers’ pay, and make our city a desireable place to live. He has a proposal to renovate the city’s north riverfront into an entertainment park, which will add to the city’s job market.
“This is something that could also be improved by increasing funding to public transportation. The process of investing in our city has a great side effect of creating jobs and growth. Increasing funding and spending (on) our public transportation system creates jobs and pathways to jobs that are not previously available. Increasing funding to our public schools, reopening schools in order to decrease class sizes, and increasing teachers' pay are things that will also add to our city's job market. Adding entertainment venues to our cities that are attractive to families create jobs for a variety of professionals and helps build the population. We have to increase our city's population to increase our economy. Therefore we have to make our city a desireable place to live. I have created a proposal to renovate our city's north riverfront into an entertainment park. It could potentially employ thousands of professionals and entry-level workers as well as service industry employees as well as St. Louis' considerable artists and entertainment population. I think we can start to celebrate our city and invest in our communities. We will see significant increases in job growth and our economy will flourish.”
What criteria should be used to determine which developers receive tax incentives?
The benefit their proposal will have for the community, the developer’s attachment to the community, and previous investments they’ve made, says McFarland.
“I think that before we allow tax incentives to developers, we should examine the benefit their proposal will have for our community, the developer's attachment to the community, and previous investments they have made, and how much else they really need.”
Why do you support (or not support) SCSTL’s proposal for the soccer stadium?
Since it’s a private venture, says McFarland, it should not use taxpayer money. He believes it would be more beneficial to develop the city’s north riverfront with attractions.
“I do not agree with using taxpayer funding for this private venture. Major League Soccer has stated they could build a soccer stadium without the city's contributions but won't because of St. Louis' uncertain economy. We are still paying for the Edward Jones Dome. We could renovate that, and I believe it would be more beneficial to develop our north riverfront with attractions that will provide year-round entertainment and revenue.”
What do you see as the goals of the Black Lives Matter movement, and do you support that movement?
McFarland sees the goals of the movement, which he supports, as building up and supporting the culture of African-Americans as equals. He has been a proponent of the Black Empowerment Movement for the last 10 years.
“When talking about the movement, I prefer to say the Black Empowerment Movement because it is more than just Black Lives Matter. It is more than just marching in the street. It is about a culture shift that I have been a propoent for for the last 10 years. It is about building up and supporting the culture of African-Americans as equals and deserving equal liberties as other people in the United States. I support this movement, and I'm also happy to see the issues I've been working on for so long finally at the forefront of our collective conversations.”
What steps would you take to reduce violent crime in the city?
McFarland thinks the city should address problems with the economy and education, two things that have a relationship to the violent crime rate. He would implement a community-school model to strengthen the bond between the community and students and their families.
“There's a relationship between the economy and the violent crime rate. Strained economies express stress through violence. When you see an economy fail, you can watch as the armed robberies, the domestic disturbances, the rapes, and the murders increase. The other thing [associated] with crime and poverty is education. I support implementing a community-school model which will help strengthen the bond of the community and improve the lives of our students and their families. If we improve our schools and increase our economy, we will see a decline in violent crime. We need to fix what is at the root of violent crime, then we will do a much better job attacking this issue than if we just apply the Band-Aid of more police and surveillance cameras.”
Do you think the city's medium-security prison on Hall Street ("the Workhouse") should close?
Yes. McFarland says restitution for minor offenses should involve methods that favor community service or create a conversation. He believes this will put more resources and space toward addressing more serious offenders.
“Yeah, I do think that the Workhouse should close. It is an ugly representation of the problems within our criminal justice system. St. Louis has recently been exposed as having relied too heavily on incarceration as a method of [restitution for] crimes. And if we were to rely on alternatives means for restitution for minor offenses, we will have added resources and space to address more serious perpetrators. For instance, our use of the warrant-and-arrest method for minor traffic… offenses could be replaced with a method that favors community service or creates a conversation. We should be looking for the best way to handle things, not the easiest.”
How will you make sure St. Louis district public schools continue to improve?
Increasing teachers’ pay, implementing a community-school model, more after-school programs and extracurricular activities, says McFarland. He would also encourage schools to collaborate with nonprofit organizations.
“I'm in favor of increasing funding, specifically regarding teachers' pay. It is hard to ensure quality education if you cannot ensure the morale of the educators. I would also implement a community-school model with significant increases to after-school programs and extracurricular activities. We need to imrpove school spirit. As president of the elected school board, Susan Jones, stated: 'Provide resources for kids to flourish, instead of just barely providing the basics.' I would encourage our schools to collaborate with as many nonprofit organzations as possible to involved them in as many activities as possible.”
Should St. Louis city and county unite? If so, how would you persuade county residents that it’s in their best interests?
Yes, because it would provide a large tax pool for the collective city and county to use and create balance. He says this will not be a priority issue, but something he would attempt in the next 10 years.
“I do think that this would be a positive move for both city and county. The people that live in the county still use our facilities, entertainment venues, and schools—just about everything in the city. Providing a large tax pool for the collective city and county to use will create balance. There have been proposals to build structures that city residents would for the most part not be using but will be forced to pay for. This is not a priority issue for me right now. But it's something I think we should begin discussing and preparing to attempt in the next 10 years.”
Do you have any plans to improve water and air quality in St. Louis?
As a Green party candidate, McFarland is deeply concerned about these issues. He would give tax incentives for rooftop gardens, expand the Mow To Own Program, and encourage development of parks. He will also work to ensure lead piping, which can effect water quality, in the city is replaced. Matthews believes the city should continue to regulate water quality, and electric buses should be implemented.
“As a Green party candidate, I am deeply concerned for the air quality in our city. We have one of the highest rates of asthma in the country. And we need to increase our green spaces. I would like to work on a program that gives tax incentives for rooftop gardening and expand the Mow To Own Program that allows property owners to assume ownership of a property as it's taken care of for a certain amount of time. And to encourage the development of many parks and the effort to increase vegetation. This will have an impact on air quality and the quality of our soil by helping remove that lead that's in the soil. That will help our water quality as well, ensuring that lead piping is replaced in our city. We need to replace a lot of the lead piping. I heard there's 13 schools closed, and we really need to do that. I know it's already happening, and I really supported that. But what about the other schools? They were made in the same era.”
What is your favorite STL attraction?
Forest Park
“I love Forest Park, especially the art museum. We have a really impressive collection of art... It's my favorite place to visit.”
See also:
Mayor Francis Slay has served longer than any previous mayor. How's he done? Depends on whom you ask.