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Tishaura Jones

Overview

* Was Elected Mayor of St. Louis in 2021
* Was elected Treasurer of St. Louis in 2013
* Was elected to the Missouri House of Representatives in November 2008
* Believes that the American criminal-justice system is infested with racism
* Favors the defunding of police departments
* Supports government-run, universal health care


Tishaura Jones was born on March 10, 1972 in St. Louis, Missouri. She earned a B.S. degree in Finance from Hampton University in 1994, and a Master’s in Health Administration from Saint Louis University in 2001.

After completing her formal education, Jones was employed as a Manager of Registration and Scheduling at Cardinal Glennon Children’s Hospital in St. Louis from 2001-2003. From 2002-2008, she served as the Democratic Committeewoman for St. Louis’ 8th Ward, a role that overlapped with her tenure from 2003-2009 as a Senior Human Resources Consultant and the Director of Public Policy for a local organization called the People’s Health Center.

Jones was elected to the Missouri House of Representatives in November 2008 when she defeated Independent challenger Nels Williams with 85.4% of the vote. Jones subsequently took office in January 2009.

In late 2009, Jones was one of more than 1,000 lawmakers who signed a letter entitled “State Legislators for Progressive Health Care Reform,” which was a project of the Progressive States Network and was developed in consultation with such organizations as the AFL-CIOAFSCMEFamilies USA, the National Women’s Law Center, the Service Employees International Union, and the Universal Health Care Action Network. The letter read, in part: “Failure to pass national comprehensive health reform now will further jeopardize state and local budgets, undermining public services like education, public safety, and transportation infrastructure… We, the undersigned, call on President Obama and the Congress to enact bold and comprehensive health care reform this year.”

In 2010, Jones was re-elected to the Missouri House and was chosen to become the new Assistant Minority Floor Leader, a position she would hold until December 2012.

In 2013, Jones was elected Treasurer of St. Louis, a post she would hold until 2021.

In 2017, Jones ran for mayor of St. Louis but narrowly lost, in the Democratic primary, to Lyda Krewson, the eventual winner of the general election. Despite her defeat, Jones established herself as a rising star in the Democratic Party, securing the endorsements of a number of leftwing organizations such as Democracy For America, MoveOn, NARAL Pro-Choice America, Service Employees International Union (SEIU), and the Working Families Party.

In January 2019, Jones supported Communist Party activist Tony Pecinovsky in his campaign for St. Louis Alderman. Two years later, Pecinovsky would participate in an event celebrating the 100th anniversary of the Chinese Communist Party’s founding.

When Jones ran a successful campaign for re-election to a third term as Treasurer in 2020, she garnered the support of Planned Parenthood, NARAL Pro-Choice Missouri, the Coalition of Black Trade Unionists, the United Auto Workers, the SEIU, Democracy For America, the Organization for Black Struggle, and People for Bernie (Bernie Sanders). Her campaign was also backed by Senator Elizabeth Warren, and Representative Ayanna Pressley.

On November 4, 2020 — just a day removed from her landslide re-election victory as Treasurer — Jones announced her plans to run once again for Mayor of St. Louis in 2021. Her campaign was founded upon an ambitious leftist platform, which included such elements and promises as the following:

1) Racial Equity

  • “As mayor, I will reinstate the position of Deputy Mayor for Racial Equity and require that they incorporate a racial equity lens into governmental decision-making and expand economic opportunities to minorities, women, and immigrants. Establishing Saint Louis as an inclusive and equitable community and reducing the racial wealth gap will help to rebuild our population.”

2) Immigrant and Refugee Inclusion

  • “Attracting and retaining immigrants is critical to regional growth…. The city must devote resources to helping new Americans feel at home in St. Louis.”
  • “Explore the creation of a Day Laborer’s Program … to assist those who would otherwise have a difficult time finding work.”

3) Issues Involving LGBT+

  • “With LGBT+ communities under attack in state legislatures across the country, including Missouri, the city needs a mayor who will establish Saint Louis as a safe haven for our LGBT+ community.”
  • “Violence against the transgender community in our city must end. Black and brown trans women have been most affected, and unfortunately, many have lost their lives.”
  • “As Mayor, I will work with the Board of Aldermen to establish a LGBT+ commission … to advise the Board on ways to increase safety and inclusivity in Saint Louis.”
  • “As Mayor, I will work with city departments to avoid misgendering and deadnaming in record collection.”

4) Paid Family Leave

  • “Make paid family leave available to all city employees.”
  • “Paid family leave should be the norm, and parents should have the power to advocate for flexible work schedules that allow them to further their careers while spending time with their children.”

5) Legalize Prostitution

  • “Destigmatize and decriminalize sex work.”

6) Abortion Rights

  • “As Mayor, I will partner with LGBT+ advocacy groups and local pro-choice organizations to increase accessibility to abortion, reproductive services, and other healthcare for everyone who needs them.”
  • “Those able to be pregnant need to feel confident that they will not be discriminated against (in civic life and in the workplace) for choices related to their health decisions (e.g., the decision to carry a pregnancy to term, the decision to have an abortion, etc.).”

7) Public Safety & Police:

  • “The city must reject the false choice between being ‘tough’ on crime and addressing the root causes of violence…. Officers are spending too much time responding to routine calls instead of addressing violent crime. We must invest in resources that will actually make us safer, such as treatment for substance abuse and mental health disorders, programs that help lift people out of poverty, and meaningful criminal justice reforms.”
  • “Calls to defund the police have echoed throughout almost every major city in our country. A study using 60 years of data showed that an increase in funding for police did not reduce crime. … Defunding the police does not mean abolishing the police. Instead, it means restructuring the department and reallocating the budget to programs and resources that actually prevent crime, like investments in substance abuse and mental health services, job training programs, and being a better partner with our education system.”

8) Decarceration

  • “[St. Louis] currently spends hundreds of millions of dollars repeatedly arresting the same people, trying them, and incarcerating them. If the city reduces the number of people cycling through the system, it will save a lot of money and make the city a more humane, more sustainable place to live.”
  • “As mayor, I will close the Workhouse [a medium-security prison in St. Louis]. I will also be an advocate for ending cash bail so that you are not held pre-trial for being too poor.”
  • “Decarceration efforts also need to include making sure people who have served their time are able to find jobs by reducing barriers to re-entry and dismantling the school to prison pipeline.”

9) Substance Abuse

  • “St. Louis is in the middle of a heroin epidemic, with Black men most at risk of death from an opioid overdose. It is not a problem that we can arrest our way out of. As mayor, I will work to expand access to substance abuse services and the decriminalization of some crimes committed as a result of drug seeking behavior.”

10) Income Inequality

  • “Support local living wage ordinances.”

11) Energy & Environment

  • “Support Green jobs and the retrofit of old properties to support building a sustainable St. Louis.”

12) Homelessness

  • “Work with homelessness advocacy groups to build quality shelters, equipped with wrap-around social services, that will help us end the cycle of homelessness.”

13) Early Childhood

  • “The St. Louis region creates ‘haves’ and ‘have nots’ as early as in utero. Black Women, women of color, and poor women, receive far less prenatal care and education than those with resources. The city of St. Louis should work with families to ensure they know all of the options available to them.”
  • “Finland provides every new mother in the country with a ‘baby box’ containing baby clothes, a sleeping bag, bathing products, diapers, bedding and a small mattress. Anyone expecting a new baby in St. Louis should be given a similar package with resources to help reduce infant mortality and ensure healthy development for all children. When I am mayor, the St. Louis baby kit will provide information regarding: Prenatal and postnatal care; Healthy Development Support; Pre-School and nursery programs; College savings programs; Nutrition programs; Safety information; Health Department contacts.”

14) Quality Schools

  • “As mayor, I will promote: Expansion of Pre-Kindergarten options in public schools; Adequate funding for schools by reforming tax incentives for developers to shield the public school portion of taxes from being a part of incentive packages; Free community college for two years for any student in a public school who maintains a C average through junior and senior years; The closure of low-performing charter schools.”

A dominant theme throughout Jones’ mayoral campaign was her belief that the American criminal-justice system discriminates heavily against nonwhite minorities in a manner that white people cannot comprehend. On March 30, 2021, for example, she tweeted: “A white person doesn’t have to have the ‘talk’ with their children [about the alleged danger that police officers may abuse or murder them]. While I appreciate the role of white allies in this movement of progress, I don’t believe they have the lived experience to lead a majority-minority City right now.”

In April 2021, Jones defeated Alderwoman Cara Spencer in a “nonpartisan” mayoral general election by a margin of 52%-48%. In her victory speech, Jones told her supporters: “This is an opportunity for us to rise…. I told you when I was running that we aren’t done avoiding tough conversations. We are done ignoring the racism that has held our city and our region back.” Jones also pledged that, as mayor: “I will not stay silent when I spot racism…. I will not stay silent when I spot homophobia or transphobia. I will not stay silent when I spot xenophobia. I will not stay silent when I spot religious intolerance. I will not stay silent when I spot any injustice.”

On her first day in office as mayor, Jones spoke out in support of removing all $7.8 million in funding for “The Workhouse,” a medium-security prison located in St. Louis. Some $1.3 million of that sum would be reallocated to pay for social workers and services designed to assist ex-convicts assimilate back into society after serving out their prison terms.

In early May 2021, Jones supported cutting approximately $4 million per year from the St. Louis Police Department’s budget. She made this proposal despite the fact that St. Louis in 2020 had the nation’s highest murder rate — 87 homicides per 100,000 people — a figure that was not only a 50-year-high for St. Louis, but that also ranked far above 2020’s second-place figure of 57 homicides per 100,000 people in Baltimore.

Later in May 2021, Jones defended her support for the defunding of her city’s police department: “More police doesn’t prevent crime…. Research done in the police department shows that 50 percent of calls can be answered by someone other than police.”

In June 2021, Jones was one of 11 members of MORE (Mayors Organized for Reparations and Equity), an alliance of Democrat mayors who pledged to provide reparations for slavery to black residents in their respective cities. “Black Americans don’t need another study that sits on a shelf,” said Jones. “… We need decisive action to address the racial wealth gap holding communities back across our county.” Although MORE did not offer specifics about how such reparations should be allocated and paid for, the group hoped that its plan would create a precedent for the federal government to emulate.

On December 7, 2021, Missouri GOP Attorney General Eric Schmitt – responding to the fact that the incidence of coronavirus infections had declined significantly in recent weeks — issued letters to local public health agencies invalidating all mask mandates in school districts and public-health agencies across the state. This prompted Mayor Jones to tweet in response: “Please help us! Our Attorney General @Eric Schmitt is literally trying to kill us!” Schmitt, in turn, directed the following tweet to Jones: “You’re the mayor of the murder capital of the United States, violent crime rages on and you want to defund the police and yet you’re obsessed with the forced masking of 5 year olds. Your administration and priorities are a total disaster.”

To commemorate Black History Month in February 2022, Jones, professing a desire to enact measures that would reduce gun violence in her city, partnered with pro-gun-control organizations like Cure Violence and Everytown for Gun Safety (EGS). A few weeks earlier, she had been appointed as a co-chair for EGS’s Mayors Against Illegal Guns (MAIG). Her fellow co-chairs were Baltimore Mayor Brandon Scott; Chattanooga Mayor Tim Kelly; former Columbia (South Carolina) Mayor Steve Benjamin; Kansas City (Missouri) Mayor Quinton Lucas; Mount Vernon (New York) Mayor Shawyn Patterson-Howard; New York City Mayor Eric Adams; former Stockton, California Mayor Michael Tubbs;  Tampa Mayor Jane Castor; and Tucson Mayor Regina Romero. The founding chairman of MAIG was former New York City Mayor Michael Bloomberg.

In March 2022, EMILY’s List nominated Jones for its ninth annual Gabrielle Giffords Rising Star Award, which celebrates “extraordinary wom[en] serving in state or local office.” In its announcement of Jones as a nominee for this prize, EMILY’s List lauded her for having “spoken out against the national attacks on reproductive rights, rallying with other Missourian leaders to call for continued abortion access throughout the United States.”

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