On Tuesday, Councilwoman Ella Jones made history when she was elected as the first Black mayor of Ferguson, Missouri. She will also serve as the city’s first woman mayor.
Jones reached a historic milestone with 54% of the vote over Councilwoman Heather Robinett, who had 46%.
“It’s just our time,” Jones, 65, said in a Tuesday night interview. “It’s just my time to do right by the people.”
Ferguson reached worldwide attention in 2014 when 18-year-old Michael Brown was shot and killed by Officer Darren Wilson, sparking worldwide protest similar to what we’re witnessing today. For the past week, many people have demonstrated across the world over victims of police violence, including George Floyd, Breonna Taylor, Tony McDade, and more.
When Jones was asked what her election means for Black residents, she responded, “One word: inclusion.”
Jones has run for mayor in Ferguson back in 2017. She lost to incumbent James Knowles III, who was prohibited by term limits from taking on a fourth term.
Since the 2020 protests have erupted over police violence, Jones said she supported peaceful protestors but condemns any violence that may have followed.
Since Ferguson’s 2014 protest, Jones said that she would help the suburb continue to implement changes in city practices. One issue she supported was a consent decree developed with the federal government, which would adopt “a team approach to identifying and addressing the root causes of problems that negatively impact community stability,” according to her site.
She also ran on a platform of expanding neighborhood watch programs, increasing crime prevention efforts, hiring qualified police officers, improving youth employment opportunities, and funding for first-time homeowners.
On Tuesday night, Jones also said her initial goals as mayor are “to help stabilize the businesses in Ferguson,” especially those damaged in the recent protests. Jones said she hopes to bring city council members together on this and other issues.
Jones is the latest win in a series of Black leaders taking political office in the area. In 2014, only one Black council member took a seat in Ferguson. Today, there are four out of six, although Jones will be transitioning soon to the mayor’s seat.
The local elections on Tuesday came after they were postponed on April 7 by Missouri Governor Mike Parson in a state-wide attempt to curb the spread of the coronavirus.
Worries about COVID-19 were still very much a concern on Tuesday’s election. Absentee voting skyrocketed and many election judges refused to work the polls. However, despite the challenges, it seems like the city of Ferguson still took on their civic duty to elect their first Black and woman mayor.