It will probably surprise some people that I have not always been a huge fan of Tishaura Jones.
But I also know her now and understand the desperation she felt then, like so many St. Louis City parents, about public education, and that her actions were in spite of Rex and not because of him.
Not many of us are without some of Sinquefield’s agenda on our hands. I went along with him funding the statewide ballot issue for local control of police and regret that. I haven’t changed my mind about local control, I just think we should have done things differently.
Most important to me is that I know Tishaura Jones is not Rex Sinquefield‘s candidate in the mayor’s race. I am convinced that she, more than any other mayoral candidate, would be our fiercest defender against him and the bully consultants spending his billions.
I liked her father, former Comptroller Virvus Jones. He was a good Comptroller. He used campaign money for personal purposes in violation of campaign finance laws and didn’t report it to IRS and went to prison for it. He was a good Comptroller but a flawed man.
I bring this up because at least one other mayoral candidate or surrogate is spreading some awful rumors about the Jones Family. In one rumor, Virvus Jones embezzled City funds (which he did not do, he was a good Comptroller) and there is an inference to apple not falling far from tree. My personal belief is that if you believe or promote that crime is genetic, may you rot in hell.
August 7, 2012, was the election that I was first on the ballot for 7th Ward Democratic Committeewoman. I had no opponent, didn’t campaign, had no organization, and filed an exemption to not spend any money. I punted on the Democratic Primary choices, including the Treasurer’s race in which Tishaura Jones, my then 7th Ward Committeeman Brian Wahby, and Aldermen Fred Wessels and Jeffery Boyd were competing. My Alderwoman endorsed Wessels.
I was ambivalent about the Treasurer’s race, other than wanting anyone but Wahby to be elected. It was my opinion, at the time, that the Treasurer’s office was such a big a mess under Larry Williams that no one was going to be able to clean it up.
Some of this had to do with empire building. I think the plan was to let the Treasurer’s office implode to generate support for making it a mayoral patronage job instead of elected. You have no idea how Machiavellian local politics is.
But Tishaura Jones was elected Treasurer and proved me wrong. She cleaned up that mess and more. None of the other mayoral candidates has done anything like this. Managed money and people. Sure. But she is the only candidate who as actually taken a public problem, fixed it, and turned it into a public benefit.
One of the things that we have gotten away from in St. Louis City government is that small stuff matters. What seems small to a large bureaucracy can mean the world to a resident, small business, or a visitor. Tishaura Jones understands that fixing the small stuff is important.
When Treasurer Tishaura Jones was sworn into office, 1,600 of the City’s 7,000 employees were not using direct deposit for their paychecks. They were cashing their checks every two weeks, often paying a fee to do so. Treasurer Jones set up bank and credit union fairs for employees to pick an institution for direct deposit. A debit card option for paychecks was also made available.
As a City employee, I can tell you that this transition, requiring direct deposit, has changed the lives of many people at the low end of City salaries. I personally know City employees who were living paycheck to paycheck and now they put a little something into a savings account every pay day. And the Treasurer’s Lunch and Learn financial literacy workshops continues to improve people’s lives.
St. Louis City was #1 in unbanked minority households when Treasurer Tishaura Jones came into office. She understands financial literacy is a necessary step to helping people out of poverty. She established the Office of Financial Empowerment to educate St. Louisans on checking and savings accounts, college funds, identity theft, earned income tax credits, foreclosure prevention, small business development, and offers credit counseling.
I know some of you are thinking, this doesn’t impact me. You’re wrong. One of the Forward Through Ferguson Report’s Signature Priorities is Opportunity to Thrive and establishing financial empowerment centers.
When we look at who has actually done something citywide to make Black Lives Matter, Treasurer Tishaura Jones is the candidate who stands out for bringing positive change. It’s not flashy. It didn’t put her on TV. But small things can change lives in big ways and that’s what Tishaura Jones is all about.
Another of the Forward Through Ferguson priority is Child and Family Development Accounts. And, again, Treasurer Jones stepped up and established a Children’s Savings Accounts program for college savings.
Thousands of St. Louis City school children now have college accounts. You don’t have kids or your child doesn’t benefit so why does this concern you? Studies show that even a small amount of money invested in a child’s college education helps keep that child in school and increases graduation rates. We need that in St. Louis City. Breaking the cycle of poverty, which impacts us all, requires children to stay in school. Again, not flashy, but an important program.
I don’t drive, so I don’t feel qualified to talk about the parking changes since Treasurer Tishaura Jones took over. Just being honest here.
As a candidate, Tishaura Jones is again showing her penchant for small things that impact people in big ways. Most recently, she wrote about tenant rights, about local government, landlord associations and tenants working together.
160,000 residents of St. Louis City are renters. We are long overdue for attention to this issue. It strikes close to home for me because we are renters. We have a great landlord. Some of our neighbors do not. As example, many of us have been horrified to find the owner of condemned property at 2408-2411 S 12th renting it out, over and over again. Tishaura Jones is the only candidate for mayor talking about protecting renters. Again, not flashy, but important to a lot of people.
Tishaura Jones wants a fully staff police department that includes social workers. Many problems that come to the attention of police are mental health related. If we staff police stations with social workers, we can treat some problems instead of criminalize them and free up police resources for more important concerns. Again, not flashy, but a small change that will have a big impact on public safety.
Tishaura Jones wants to shut down the City Workhouse, an arcane, dangerous, expensive institution. Mayors have been talking about this for decades but nobody did it. Freeing up money to keep people out of jail is better than spending money on incarceration. That’s no small thing but I don’t hear anyone else running for mayor talking about it. Maybe because it is not as flashy as talking about guns, or cameras, or any of the other buzz word topics. Or maybe because some candidates are stuck in the failed tough on crime era.
Those are of some of the reasons that I now count myself as one of Tishaura Jones biggest fans.
We cannot afford more of the same. We must change. The aldermen and Board President running for mayor had their chance and haven’t cleaned up any messes. Tishaura Jones brought change to the Treasurer’s Office, cleaned up a big mess. I trust her to do the same for the City of St. Louis.
We need someone who will look at redevelopment incentives for what they bring to the community and not merely serve as a bribe to anyone who says they will leave or won’t build without it. The aldermen and Board President running for mayor have treated the City like an ATM for developers. I trust Tishaura Jones to attract development worthy of our assistance and fix the small things that are big problems for small business.
We need transparency in City government, including replacing the City’s word salad website and lack of timely online public notice of public meetings. The aldermen and Board President have had years and years to bring transparency and failed to do so. I trust Tishaura Jones to bring that transparency because I’ve already seen what she did in the Treasurer’s Office.
We need someone who will go to the mat for us fighting Rex Sinquefield here, Jefferson City, and statewide if necessary, and I trust Tishaura Jones to do that.
We need someone who sees a beginning and end to being mayor, goals to accomplish and an urgency to do so. The aldermen and Board President running for mayor have had years to send the voters a charter amendment for term limits on mayor and failed to do so. Tishaura Jones wants to be the mayor with a clock ticking on how long she has to bring change.
If you’d like a Tishaura Jones for Mayor yard sign, or would like to help host a meet and greet for her in your neighborhood, message me or call me at 630-7599.
Disclaimer: I write my own posts. I am not paid to work on any campaign. I have no family paid to work on any campaign. I am a City employee but not employed, nor have ever been employed, in the Treasurer’s office, or Board of Aldermen, or any business associated with any mayoral candidate.
— Marie Ceselski, 7th Ward Democratic Committeewoman