ST. LOUIS — Lyda Krewson, who has served for nearly two decades on the city’s Board of Aldermen, announced on Tuesday she wants to become St. Louis’ next mayor.
Krewson, a Democrat who represents St. Louis’ Central West End, went public with her decision to run for city government’s top spot with a YouTube video this week. In the video, she said she intends to make combating crime, economic development and modernizing government platforms of her campaign.
“It matters who our mayor is,” Krewson said in the video. “Our mayor should have integrity, intelligence and experience, someone who will conduct business with civility and determination with inclusion and fairness.”
Krewson, 63, is among the first of a likely large list to announce their hopes of replacing Mayor Francis Slay, who shocked the city two months ago when he said he would not seek a fifth term after serving in the office longer than anyone in its history.
In an interview with the Missouri Times on Wednesday, Krewson said she began thinking about a run shortly after Slay’s announcement.
“I was thinking about it and thinking about it and I just decided — it’s time to stop thinking about it and start doing it,” Krewson said. “You can think and think and try to figure out what the race is going to look like, but mostly, you just can’t know. So if you want to do it, you just have to knuckle down and do it.”
Krewson is a certified public accountant and chief financial officer with Peckham, Guyton, Albers and Viets, Inc., an architecture firm in downtown St. Louis. She was first elected to the board of aldermen in 1997, representing Ward 28. That ward includes the Central West End, DeBaliviere Place and Hi Point.
Krewson pointed to several accomplishments while serving on the board, including her part in implementing a smoking ban in 2011 and was the first alderman to support across-the-board charter reform. She also played a key role in the effort to reduce the size of the board from 28 to 14.
She also points to a proposal she said she was instrumental in bringing to St. Louis — the public-private partnership that secured $130 million for 30 years of funding and maintenance for Forest Park.
Krewson knows that crime is a massive problem that will face the next mayor. She understands that the 80 homicides in the city this year indicates work needs to be done.
Krewson’s family is no stranger to tragedy. In 1995, her then husband was shot and killed during an attempted car jacking while Krewson and her two small children were in the car.
“It’s a part of who I am, but it’s not the only thing about who I am,” Krewson said. “It’s natural for folks to ask about it. Unfortunately, it gives me a life experience that hopefully other people don’t have.”
Still, she said, “too many do.”
Krewson doesn’t want to minimize that experience, but neither does she want it appear like she’s capitalizing on it during the campaign.
“I don’t talk about it a lot,” she said. “Unless people have known me a long time, they probably don’t know about it. But I don’t want to trade on it in any way.”
Krewson later married Mike Owens a former St. Louis television reporter.
One solution to help the crime problem, she said, is to hire more police officers — which is currently in the city budget to do. The department is currently down 115 officers.
“We have to move swiftly to hire those officers,” she said.
Krewson also wants to attract more business — and thus, more jobs — to the city and county, she said. She also wants to modernize government by putting more city functions online.
“It just happens that, right now, because we’ve had 80 homicides and 188 last year, it’s a natural thing for people to want to talk about the crime problem,” she said.
Krewson will face Lewis Reed, who is president of the Board of Alderman. But that list will no doubt grow between now and the April 2017 election. Others who have hinted that they may run include St. Louis police chief Sam Dotson, state Sen. Jamilah Nasheed, city Treasurer Tishaura Jones, collector of revenue Gregg Daly and fellow aldermen Jack Coatar and Antonio French.
And it has been suggested that Krewson may not have the same name recognition as those who have held citywide offices. Krewson said that may be true, but she intends to change that with an aggressive door-to-door campaign, coupled with mailers and radio and television spots.
“I really can’t focus on who may or may not run,” Krewson said. “I have to focus on my campaign and focus on my strengths. My strength over the years has been to take a business approach to things and doing that in a civil and determined manner. That may be a small thing to tout, but in this day and age it’s not that common to be able to work with folks.”