ST. LOUIS — Outgoing St. Louis Mayor Lyda Krewson, the first woman to serve in the role, in an interview Thursday touted her "calm" leadership through many crises, including the pandemic, plus big investments in the city, while also addressing closely watched relationships with other regional leaders.
On her relationship with St. Louis County Executive Sam Page, who differed with Krewson on some pandemic policies, including restaurant closures over the winter, Krewson emphasized that she regularly spoke with her counterpart. But she also acknowledged tensions.
"I think the pandemic made that especially difficult," she said. "I just had a slightly different approach than he did, what I think was a more balanced approach."
"We did not close our parks. There was never a day that I considered closing our parks, and I knew that he wanted to close parks," Krewson continued. "I thought when you've got a stay-at-home order in place, people needed to at least be able to get out and walk in the parks."
As of Wednesday, the city reported 460 COVID-19 "associated deaths."
Krewson's single term as mayor will end on Tuesday, when Mayor-elect Tishaura Jones will be inaugurated. Krewson, who did not seek re-election, said she had not offered advice to Jones, whom she defeated for the office in 2017. The two met at City Hall last week.
"If she asked me for advice, I'd give it to her, But I'm not going to give her advice that she doesn't ask for," Krewson said. "I'm going to be as helpful as I can."
"I'm rooting hard for her success, because her success is the success of the city," Krewson said, adding that the job's "extremely broad subject matter" makes it "really fun," but also "one of the things that makes the job really challenging."
Crises and victories
She also made the case that she had handled a wave of crises, including protests around the acquittal of police officer Jason Stockley in the shooting death of Anthony Lamar Smith, "in a very civil, calm way that I think helped to deescalate some situations."
Krewson also reflected on failed efforts to merge the city and county, via a plan from Better Together, and explore privatizing the operations of St. Louis Lambert International Airport.
"We shouldn't just keep doing everything the same day after day, year after year," she said. "We ought to be willing to explore new ways of doing things, and both of those subjects fell into that category."
And Krewson listed numerous big investments in the city occurring, at least in part, during her term: the National Geospatial-Intelligence Agency's new headquarters, Major League Soccer stadium, SSM Health Saint Louis University Hospital, redeveloped Union Station and continued growth at the Cortex Innovation District, as well as Square's move downtown. Her office also pointed to tens of thousands of home renovations, in neighborhoods north and south.
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