Mayor Tishaura O. Jones Delivers 2023 State of the City Address with Focus on Modernizing City Government, Cutting Red Tape, and Reimagining Public Safety
Jones emphasized how she hears the frustrations of everyday residents and is working every day to make St. Louis a stronger, safer city for families.
Today, Mayor Tishaura O. Jones delivered her second annual State of the City address at Saint Louis University’s Center for Global Citizenship, more than 50 years after Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. delivered a seminal address on integration on its stage. Drawing on her experiences building her career in St. Louis - beginning with a job as an usher at the Muny, taking reservation calls for TWA, opening a restaurant, as well as serving as State Representative, Treasurer, and now Mayor - Mayor Jones emphasized how she hears the frustrations of everyday residents and is working every day to make St. Louis a stronger, safer city for families.
“No matter your place in St. Louis, I see you, I hear you, and we are working towards solutions to fix our shared problems,” said Mayor Tishaura O. Jones. “Together, we are going to reach our destination – a city that works for you, no matter the color of your skin, who you love, or how you worship. After delivering on the promises of last year’s State of the City to prime our city for long-term transformation, we are focused on modernizing city government, cutting red tape, and reimagining public safety for a new era.”
As she promised in her previous State of the City, Mayor Jones delivered the first across-the-board raise in years for City employees as well as a retention incentive. The newly created Office of Violence Prevention is now coordinating the city’s public safety resources, including community violence intervention programs and youth programming. She also worked successfully alongside the Board of Aldermen to allocate remaining American Rescue Plan Act (ARPA) funding to help support working families, expand access to healthcare, improve and calm our streets, and direct more than $250 million to neglected neighborhoods.
“Passing this kind of landmark legislation requires collaboration,” said Mayor Jones. “I can work with anyone if it means delivering for St. Louis, and the ability to work with three different Board Presidents in the span of six months is a skill I learned in Jefferson City as a State Representative. But what we’re seeing coming out of Jefferson City right now is not the work of the people.”
Mayor Jones spoke out against Jefferson City’s attacks on reproductive freedom, the LGBTQIA+ community, as well as teachers and librarians. She condemned the legislature’s attempted takeover of SLMPD, which would bring St. Louis back to the Civil War era. Mayor Jones also noted that car thefts aside, crime trends are lower than they were at this time in both 2021 and 2022. Chief Robert J. Tracy, the first external police chief in the city’s history, just completed his first hundred days on the job, during which he has focused on operations. building community relationships at more than 75 events across the city, and reaching a contact agreement approved overwhelmingly by rank-and-file officers.
“A state takeover of police would mean a police department more accountable to unelected bureaucrats than the communities they patrol,” said Mayor Jones. “Kansas City, whose police are still under state control, just experienced their three most violent years on record. Our legislature must not push politics into public safety and instead give our new chief the time he needs to implement proven crime-reduction strategies, like he did in Wilmington.”
Citing her experience both as a former restaurateur and Treasurer of the City of St. Louis, Mayor Jones stressed her commitment to modernizing city government and bringing it into the 21st century to improve reliability of services like refuse collection. The City recently transitioned to a digital payroll system, away from typewriters, and the administration is working to streamline services and cut red tape, especially around the liquor license process for small businesses.
“My first brush with City government technology was serving as the Treasurer,” said Mayor Jones. “TWA went bankrupt a little over 20 years ago, but I can tell you first-hand that in many places in City government, we’re still using 90’s-era technology like green screens and mainframes. We're cleaning up our data and service tracking so that we can measure city services, called LouStat. We want all of our departments to work together, break down silos and communicate effectively with the residents we all serve.”
Mayor Jones closed the address emphasizing that just like she did as a reservation and sales agent with TWA, she hears the concerns of residents on city services like refuse collection, 911 consolidation, and public safety. The city also launched a website, aftertheworkhouse.com, to solicit feedback on how to use the former Workhouse site, which is currently empty of detainees.
“As I walk into City Hall with you in my thoughts, I want you to leave here tonight with Dr. King’s words echoing in yours, just as his voice bounced off the walls of this historic building,” said Mayor Jones. “Dr. King said: ‘We may have all come on different ships, but we're in the same boat now.’"
American Legion Post 77 presented the colors, with McKinley Classical Leadership Academy students singing the National Anthem and Lift Every Voice and Sing. Pastor Spencer Booker provided the invocation, Dr. Michael Lewis of Saint Louis University welcomed the audience to the historic building, and motivational speaker Koran Bolden introduced Mayor Jones.
Mayor Jones’ remarks as prepared for delivery can be found on the city’s website.
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2023 Mayor's State of the City Address