By Kat Riddler, Editor-in-Chief

There were seven candidates running for the Democratic nomination for Mayor of St. Louis on March 7th.  University of Missouri-St. Louis alumna Lyda Krewson emerged the victor and is now running in the general election on April 4th. If she wins the election, she will be the first woman mayor of the City of St. Louis.

Krewson credited some of her success in life on her alma mater saying, “UMSL is largely responsible for getting me where I am today.”

After graduating from Truman State University with two undergraduate degrees in psychology and special education, Krewson moved to St. Louis. Krewson went to UMSL for her Bachelors in General Studies with an emphasis in accounting. A couple of years after graduating, Krewson took her Certified Public Accountant (CPA) exam. On top of being a CPA, Krewson is a former auditor for Deloitte and is the Chief Financial Officer of Peckham Guyton Albers & Viets, Inc. Krewson was first elected Alderwoman of the 28th Ward in 1997 and has continued to be re-elected by and serve her constituents for nearly two decades.

As an Alderwoman, Krewson is responsible for several projects including the Prescription Drug Monitoring Project (PDMP) for the City and County to combat the rise in opiate addiction in the region. Krewson said, “The State of Missouri is the only state in the whole United States that does not have a statewide prescription drug monitoring program which is essentially a registry for opiates. We all know what the price of opiates is in our country.”

Another project Krewson worked hard for was the citywide smoking ban that was adopted in 2011. Krewson said, “Now it seems normal that we don’t smoke in workplaces in bars and restaurants. In fact, we used to. It was a really tough bill to get passed… It’s probably the biggest thing that we have done for public health since we took the lead out of gasoline.”

Over the almost two decades she has been in office, Krewson has been part of many positive changes in the 28th ward. “There has been a lot of progress. If you look 15 or 18 years ago at the Loop, there was no Pageant, there was no Pi Pizza, there was no Moonrise Hotel. If you look in the Central West End 15 or 18 years ago,  the Chase Park Plaza was closed. It looks easy now, but we have worked hard over the years to really renovate buildings and bring new development to the City of St. Louis,” Krewson said. “I would like to take those same skill sets city-wide.”

With seven candidates in the Democratic Primary there were divisions between supporters of various mayoral candidates. A unity breakfast was held on March 18 at Friends: A Meeting Place. “Campaigns are tough on people,” Krewson said. “But afterwards, we are all Democrats. We all want what is best for the city.”

Krewson spoke about her experience with the Delmar Divide separating parts of the city. Krewson said, “I represent the 28th ward currently, that includes the Loop- both sides of Delmar. We are constantly working to expand development in all areas in the city but also to expand opportunities for every one of us- educational opportunities, job opportunities- are very important, too. There are very few things a job won’t cure.”

As the city grows, new businesses and jobs have been coming to St. Louis. The Cortex development has gained momentum in bringing other businesses to St. Louis and growing the city as a tech hub. Launch Code, Square, T-REX, Nebula, and other companies have also been helpful to the city’s growth. “On most of the startup lists that come out, St. Louis will be in the top 5. It’s one of those lists we love being on top of,” Krewson said.

“There are a lot of incubator spaces and co-working spaces that I think have really been very important to building the tech startup. Most of the job growth in this country is in small business. If we have a startup company that has one or two employees now and we are able to create an environment for them where the startup can scale up… that’s real job growth,” Krewson continued. “That’s our objective to grow jobs and grow the economy because that means there are better opportunities for everyone.”

Lyda Krewson at her campaign headquarters, photo by Michael Plumb/The Current.

Krewson discussed what her  main focus will be as mayor if she is elected on April 4. Krewson said, “Neighborhood safety is job one for the next mayor. There are two parts to that. One part, and very important part, is deterring crime and preventing crime. That means more money for recreation- more recreation programs, more after school jobs, more summer jobs, alternative dispute resolution, alternative sentencing. All of those things, I think, are very important when preventing and deterring crime which is ultimately what you want to do.”

Krewson continued to explain the second part of her plan. She said, “On the other side of that is that you do need law enforcement. St. Louis is short about 100 officers from what we are budgeted to have. We are budgeted to have about 1300 officers. We do need to hire more officers, we need to pay them more competitively, we need to train them in a more modern way … We need de-escalation training. There is some of that today, but we need more.”

Krewson discussed the importance of training with her plan of new officers. Krewson said, “When you are short officers it is really hard to do training because you’re short and you are running from call to call. We need to rebuild the frayed relationship we have in parts of our community and law enforcement. That, I think, will be done through training.”

When discussing plans as mayor, Krewson welcomed higher education institutions like UMSL to share expertise on matters of public policy and concerns. Krewson said, “UMSL is really important and the expertise that is at UMSL is very important to bringing a skillset to the city where we might not have those skills. I would welcome help from UMSL and UMSL professors and students to help us.”

Krewson concluded, “I would really appreciate your vote on April 4th. I have a long history of getting things done in the City of St. Louis- a very progressive history.”

To get involved before the April 4th general election by passing out literature, door knocking, or other ways, visit lydakrewson.com and fill out the volunteer form. Krewson said, “We would love to have the help over the next two weeks. We are dropping literature and knocking doors all over the city.”