Tishaura Jones has made history as the first Black woman mayor of St. Louis after winning her election on Tuesday over Cara Spencer, the Associated Press reports.
The progressive Democrat, previously the city's treasurer, said her victory was "an opportunity for us to rise" in a speech delivered Tuesday evening to a crowd of supporters, adding that she wasn't one to avoid "tough conversations."
"I will not stay silent when I spot racism," Jones, 49, said during her speech, delivered at the city's Omega Center. "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."
St. Louis Public Radio repots that Jones will also be the first single mother to become mayor.
Other Missouri politicians lauded Jones for her victory, with U.S. Rep. Cori Bush tweeting her congratulations.
"It's a new day in St. Louis, and Black women are leading the way," Bush wrote. "Congratulations, Mayor @Tishaura. Let's get to work."
Video footage taken on Tuesday also showed Jones wiping tears as she was serenaded by sisters from the historically Black sorority, Delta Sigma Theta.
As the new mayor of St. Louis, Jones will inherit a city that's recently seen its highest murder rate in 50 years as well as a recent spate of riots and unrest at the City Justice Center jail.
She has pledged to restructure the city's police department and promised to close one of St. Louis's jails (a medium-security "debtor's jail" known as Workhouse) and address the uprisings at City Justice Center within her first 100 days.
"As a city, we've been surviving," Jones told supporters in her victory speech Tuesday. "It's time for St. Louis to thrive. It's time to bring a breath of fresh air to our neighborhoods."
She will also be tasked with allocating the $500 million in COVID-19 relief funds being distributed to St. Louis by the federal government.
In a statement prior to her election, Jones said she planned to "work quickly, and in partnership with regional and city leaders, to identify areas where we can lift up those who have been hit hardest by this public health crisis."
Jones previously ran for mayor in 2017, ultimately losing in the Democratic primary to Lyda Krewson, who went on to be elected the city's first female mayor. (Krewson did not run this year.)
In her Tuesday night speech, Jones said the previous loss helped "to prepare me for this moment."
"This feels amazing," she said. "I'm ready to get to work and usher in St. Louis' new era."
Jones was the first Black woman to be appointed treasurer of St. Louis, in 2013. She will appoint her own successor, according to state law, who will serve the remainder of her term, to end in 2024. She previously served two terms in the Missouri House of Representatives.
Jones will be sworn in as mayor on April 20.
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