Mayor Jones, Comptroller Green, members of the St. Louis Board of Aldermen, other elected officials, city employees, honored guests, clergy members, labor leaders and all other members of the public.
I am the twenty-second person to serve as president of the board of aldermen. And the first woman elected to do so.
Being number 22 — is an honor and a privilege. Being the first — is a challenge to have the difference mean something. Together with Mayor Jones and Comptroller Green, I am proud to be the final piece of our City’s new shE-and-A, a Board of Estimate and Apportionment with a new perspective.
I commit myself to you, to your family, to your neighborhood, and to your dream of what this City and your life in it can be. A city that works for everyone.
I approach my service with hope — and with a sense of great urgency. Our community has its fair share of challenges, but I look at every challenge as an opportunity to do something important… faster, fairer, more effectively.
This term is less than five months…
In that time, there is no shortage of work to be done. For sure, our city’s legislative body has our jobs cut out for us.
Over these months, we must prepare the 28-member Board of Aldermen to be reorganized as a body of 14 members with the professional staff to ensure that we have the tools to make good laws and to be accountable to constituent requests and needs.
Over these months, we must appropriate ARPA funds and infrastructure funds, and begin the process of determining the best use of the Rams settlement funds. Balancing present and future needs, repair and investment, will require a lot of goodwill and mature discussion.
Over these months, we must rebuild the city workforce that is necessary to provide quality services in every corner of our city. We must provide the compensation and benefits, like childcare, home buying assistance, and student loan assistance, that is necessary to attract and retain the workers we need so that we can ensure trash is picked up, grass is cut, trees are planted, snow is plowed, emergency services are dispatched quickly, water is safe, sidewalks are repaired, and streets are paved.
Over these months, we must begin down the road of tax incentive reform that will ensure that our schools and city coffers benefit from new development from day one. We must increase the availability of affordable housing, pursue efforts to prevent the need for evictions, ensure the right to form unions,, and ensure that public benefits are attached to publicly-subsidized projects.
And this is not all; as we emerge from this pandemic we must make sure that public health is funded and supported, including reproductive healthcare; we must ensure that we are investing in training our students for the jobs of today and tomorrow. We must pursue public safety strategies that address the root causes of crime, while also enacting police accountability measures that will restore trust in our police; we must finish the job of decriminalizing marijuana, from updating hiring policies to changing zoning regulations to accommodate recreational marijuana facilities. And we must send a marijuana tax to the ballot to allow the wider community to benefit from the new law.
Finally, we must implement a Charter commission and, should the mayor choose to pursue it, confirm new Freeholders to improve city governance and encourage regional cooperation.
That’s a lot of work for my colleagues at the Board to get done.
And it’s a lot of change for our residents to consider.
I’m confident that by working together we can overcome institutional inertia and historic suspicions and get it done. Let me re-phrase that sentence for emphasis: only by working together can we get things done.
To my aldermanic colleagues, I promise an end to the toxic culture in the chamber of the past few years: those bully days are over. Enthusiasm won’t be punished and experience won’t be ignored. And, if you have ever, for any reason, thought my door was closed to you, try it again today.
To the Mayor and the Comptroller, I promise a good heart and an open mind. I will not be a rubber stamp, but I will also not be a roadblock bought by lobbyists and special interests. The only agenda I’ll bring to E&A is the people’s agenda. And I know you share it.
And, finally, to the people of the City, I promise to put your children and your grandparents first. I don’t say that rhetorically. I absolutely mean it the same way that our Congresswoman does. If you want something from me between now and April, your proposal had better include your arguments about how this will benefit our youth and our seniors immediately.
Mayor Jones, Comptroller Green, members of the St. Louis Board of Aldermen, other elected officials, city employees, honored guests, clergy members, labor leaders, and all St. Louisans, it is time to get to work. It is time to set aside our differences. It is time to build, together, a city that works for everyone.
I am excited to be the President. I am optimistic about the next five months. I am ready. I hope you’re ready to join me.