Tuesday, April 4, 2017

Lyda Krewson Will Be St. Louis' First Female Mayor

Posted By on Tue, Apr 4, 2017 at 10:10 PM

click to enlarge Lyda Krewson, St. Louis' first female mayor. - PHOTO BY DANNY WICENTOWSKI
  • Photo by Danny Wicentowski
  • Lyda Krewson, St. Louis' first female mayor.
Lyda Krewson, a long-time alderwoman in the Central West End, is set to be the city's first new mayor in sixteen years.

Unofficial results show the 64-year-old certified public accountant easily defeating her closest competitor, Republican Andrew Jones. "We ran through the tape tonight," Krewson told supporters in a victory speech around 10:05 p.m.

She will be the city's first female mayor, a distinction she downplayed earlier in the evening during her watch party at the Probstein Golf Course clubhouse in Forest Park.

"For me, it's not a big deal to have the first woman anything, because I am one," Krewson says. "We come at problems maybe a little bit differently, but both get to the same end."

Because this is St. Louis, Krewson's toughest competition came a month ago when she won the Democratic primary.

Krewson managed to battle her way through a crowded field of progressives who filled the primary after Mayor Francis Slay announced he would not seek a fifth term. She edged her top rival, Treasurer Tishaura Jones, by just 879 votes — a task some suggest was made easier because Jones likely split votes with three other black candidates, Alderman Antonio French, Alderman Jeffrey Boyd and Board of Alderman President Lewis Reed.

Krewson, whose politics are more centrist, was the only white candidate among the legitimate contenders in the race after Collector of Revenues Gregory F.X. Daly made an early exit, citing a "negative" tone in the campaign, and St. Louis police Chief Sam Dotson aborted a short-lived run under pressure from Mayor Francis Slay. Slay later endorsed Krewson.

During Krewson's twenty years on the Board of Aldermen, she established herself as a hands-on, but civil, politician, brokering a compromise on an $11 minimum wage and guiding a city smoking ban into law.

Krewson, who witnessed her husband's murder in 1995, ran her mayoral campaign on a public safety platform, promising to devote $25 million to hiring, training and equipping more police officers. She pledged to find another $8 million for additional strategies, such as kids recreation and alternatives to prosecution.

A chief financial officer for design firm PGAV, she fended off accusations she was a pushover for developers seeking tax breaks. Opponents also tried to link her to Jeff Roorda, the controversial business agent for the St. Louis Police Officers Association, which endorsed her campaign. (When Krewson called on the union to fire Roorda toward the end of the campaign, saying he would not be welcome in her office after he posted a string of personal attacks against Jones on Facebook, critics saw it as politically convenient way to duck that criticism.)

She avoided a late-game blindside from Kacey Cordes, a well-financed political newcomer who bypassed the Democratic primary with the intention of running as an independent in the general. Cordes had hoped to outflank Krewson from the left by unifying a fractured progressive base, but she failed to get the signatures needed to earn a spot on Tuesday's ballot. (An ensuing court battle didn't work either, and Cordes was relegated to a write-in campaign.)

Krewson says she tried to stay above the fray throughout the race and hopes that will help her govern once she is in the mayor's office.

"In my mind, I said, 'You know what, I'm going to live here in St. Louis — win or lose," Krewson says. "I'm still going to be going to the grocery store, picking up the dry cleaning, taking a walk through the neighborhood, and I don't want to be embarrassed about the way I have behaved during a campaign."

Staff writer Danny Wicentowski contributed to this story.

We welcome tips and feedback. Email the author at doyle.murphy@riverfronttimes.com or follow on Twitter at @DoyleMurphy.


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