ST. LOUIS (AP) — St. Louis Alderwoman Lyda Krewson could be on the verge of becoming the city's first female mayor after winning the Democratic primary election Tuesday.
Unofficial results show Krewson won 32 percent of the vote, narrowly defeating city Treasurer Tishaura Jones, who received 30 percent. Five other candidates, including Aldermanic President Lewis Reed and two other aldermen, were far behind.
St. Louis is overwhelmingly Democratic, and Krewson will be a strong favorite in the April 4 general election against Republican nominee Andrew Jones, who defeated two other candidates. Libertarian Robb Cunningham and Green Party candidate Johnathan McFarland also are on the April ballot.
Four-term incumbent Democrat Francis Slay chose not to run, creating a vacancy in the city's top job for the first time since 2001. Slay supported Krewson as his replacement.
"If you help me across the finish line on April 4, every little girl and young woman will know that they can serve our city and be leaders of tomorrow," Krewson said at her victory party.
Krewson, 64, pledged to work to reduce crime in a city that annually ranks among the most violent in the nation based on FBI statistics, in part by hiring more officers and improving training and diversity in the police department.
"Neighborhood safety is job one," Krewson said. "Far too many families know the pain of violent crime."
Krewson herself knows that pain. In 1995, her husband, Jeff, was shot to death during a carjacking in front of the family home, with Krewson and their two young children inside the car.
Krewson was first elected to the Board of Aldermen in 1997. She also works as a CPA and chief financial officer at Peckham Guyton Albers & Viets Inc., a design and planning firm. She has a degree in education from Truman State University and an accounting degree from the University of Missouri-St. Louis.
She married Mike Owens, a former TV journalist, in 1998.
If she wins in April, Krewson would enter office at a time when violent crime is on the rise again. After years of declining homicides, St. Louis killings spiked to 188 in 2015, a number that was matched again in 2016.
Among the victims of recent crime in St. Louis was the wife of Missouri Gov. Eric Greitens. In December, Sheena Greitens was in her car on a restaurant parking lot near the family's home when a suspect opened her door and pointed a gun. She surrendered her laptop and cellphone and was unharmed.
Greitens, a Republican, has said St. Louis must find a way to overcome violent crime that affects families, hurts the city's reputation and damages business.
Slay, 61, is the first St. Louis mayor elected to four terms. He will join a law firm after leaving office.