Forward Through Ferguson Mayoral Primary Questionnaire
What 3 core strategies would you use to increase racial equity in St. Louis if elected mayor? Where can progress be made most quickly and what policy initiatives would you pursue in your first year to decrease those disparities? Who in your administration would have primary responsibility for attending to issues of racial equity?
All 12 candidates participating in the March 7 primary were sent the following questions with a deadline of Thursday, February 23rd at 9am. Four candidates met that deadline and their answers are below, unedited and presented in last name alphabetical order.
Tishaura Jones (D)
First and foremost, the city must adopt the Calls to Action set forth in the Forward Through Ferguson and For Sake of All reports. As mayor, I will commit to not allowing these reports sit on a shelf and gather dust, but instead serve as roadmaps for racial equity. This starts with consistently measuring our progress towards meeting the calls to action and formulating actionable steps to create racial equity. As Treasurer, I have already worked toward three of the Forward through Ferguson calls to action. I think we can continue to expand upon the work of the Office of Financial Empowerment to help close the racial wealth gap.
Beyond working towards the calls to action, I will work to expand entrepreneurship and job opportunities for all women and minorities to help build our economy. Increasing entrepreneurship is one of the most successful strategies for closing the wealth gap. I want to create a city-wide plan for increasing minority participation in the tech and innovation sectors and make it easier for people to start small businesses in St. Louis.
Racial equity will not be siloed in one department under my administration, but will require re-evaluating all of our city policies, including changing the way the city spends its time and resources. Accordingly, I am the person who should ultimately be held accountable for moving St. Louis closer towards real racial equity.
Lyda Krewson (D)
Collaboration, intentionality, and radical listening.
I want our city to grow, and to change and modernize in ways that are progressive, just, and fair for all St. Louisans. To do this, we’ll need to harness the talents and ideas of all who call St. Louis home. My administration will take a collaborative, inclusive approach to the challenges we face, ensuring that diverse life experiences and perspectives are the hallmark of solutions we put forward.
To succeed, it will require we be intentional in our efforts to view every decision, outcome, existing initiative and new idea as it pertains to racial equity. My administration will ensure our city’s government stops paying lip service to our racial divide and begins crafting solutions to address it by inserting considerations of racial equity into our decision-making processes. This intentionality is how I will approach every decision as mayor, mandating to all who work with and for the city to consider equity as an outcome when we look to create new policy.
Lastly, our success in these endeavors cannot be measured unless we employ what the Ferguson Commission labeled “radical listening.” It will be vital to listen intently to communities who have traditionally been locked out of our governing processes. This notion of including underrepresented communities in every step of the process will help us reach better solutions and ensure the practices of my administration and the city are achieving the desired outcome of racial equity. Only through listening will we truly identify best practices for those we serve and learn how our city’s government should continue to develop.
I will ensure that the city continues to work with organizations like the Government Alliance on Race & Equity (GARE) to conduct and build on the racial equity training provided to department directors, commissioners, and managers throughout city government. With help from organizations like GARE, I will task St. Louis city employees to engage in critical conversations about disparities and implicit bias, while identifying initiatives for my administration to employ that will improve services and outcomes for minorities.
[re:who is responsible in the administration] Me.
I refuse to delegate a responsibility as important as this because I recognize that throughout our history, governments, not just here in the City of St. Louis, but local, state, and federal governing bodies have employed policies that aided in the creation of racial inequities. When I am mayor, I’ll take the responsibility of ensuring that the City of St. Louis focuses on aligning its actions with racial equity.
Johnathan McFarland (G)
My platform has been designed around increasing racial equity in our city. I have three priorities; Education, the Economy, and building an inclusive city government. In my first year as mayor, I plan to implement the community school model in all of our public schools. This would provide programs to assist families with all of their basic needs. It would provide after school programming for students, including extra curricular activities. I would also work with the Board of Education to ensure that our teachers receive an increase in their salaries, in order for our public schools to be competitive with other local school districts. This will help to ensure we are able to keep quality educators on staff. I would also begin my initiative to re-open 10 public schools by 2027, in order to reduce class sizes.
I plan to emphasize targeted investments in our city, by developing the North Riverfront into a year-round amusement venue, which would provide thousands of jobs and would promote tourism. My plan for the North Riverfront would also employ our city’s significant artist and performer population. I plan to enact a homeownership program that would develop blighted areas, while allowing families in need to purchase homes through “sweat equity,” and city backed financing. I will create specific criteria for Tax Incremental Funding (TIF), to ensure the funding is being used to assist local businesses and entrepreneurs, not wealthy investors who should not require assitance.
Finally, I will create an online registry for the citizens of St. Louis to log in and vote on non-ballot eligible issues. This will allow residents to easily provide feedback and suggestions to city administration. I would also like to partner with local business owners to provide incentives for individuals to participate in the community meetings. I will provide funding for participatory budgeting initiatives throughout the city, and I would support local non-profit organizations in the development of “Freedom Schools,” with the purpose of educating and empowering voters; specifically African American voters.
As mayor, I would prefer to identify a qualified candidate to assume a role as Director of the Racial Equity Initiative. This person would need to have a thorough understanding of our city’s history, and of my vision to achieve racial equity. This issue is personally very important to me, and I would do daily briefings with this individual to ensure my administration is making as much progress as is possible.
Jim Osher (R)
I would try to build new excitement of rebuilding and cleaning up of North St Louis and to create an environment which people would desire to live and business would desire to locate. This can be done using private-public and leveraged in a way that creates the most bang for the buck. Private enterprise can take advantage of the many tax and training incentives that are already on the books. There are plenty of agencies and tax incentives that are already around that can help. Slate, WOTC, Brown Field, New Market Tax credits, this only names names a few.
I also think it is very important to ask for help from state and federal governments, and anywhere it can be found. I hate to throw people and agencies under the bus however SLDC can do a much better job and they simply have not felt the desires to tackle the issue. If we look at perhaps $150,000,000 for new scoreboard, seats, and entryway for entertainment. We should be able to look for the same type money for rebuilding and taking care of blight and decay. If this type of money was leveraged and managed properly it could go a long way to rebuild St Louis. I have talked to demolishing companies about cost to take down buildings that are not salvageable, and for a private company to do the work without all the red tape it cost about $7,500. If there’s 20,000 buildings that are not salvageable then that equates to 20,000x$7,500= $150,000,000. The same as the price to redo an arena.
We can do both! It’s just doesn’t make sense not to.
Businesses and people from outside this area will simply not move into this area the way it is now. We need to start on the eastern edge of of St. Louis north of Delmar and work our way in a northwest direction cleaning, repairing and training people that need jobs to clean the entire area.
This entire process will create higher Egos for everyone, and perhaps the Ego won’t have to being satisfied by drugs, keep people busy, create jobs and create self satisfaction and a way to teach people to fish so they won’t be hungry again!!!