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ST. LOUIS, Mo. – Mayor Lyda Krewson is not seeking a second term in office. She made the surprising announcement Wednesday afternoon during a news conference at St. Louis City Hall.

Earlier this month, Krewson said she’d planned to run for reelection. She pointed to her birthday over the weekend as a primary reason for her decision.

“I have decided to retire in April,” she told reporters during a news conference.

She’s just turned 68. After 19 years as an alderwoman, and four years as mayor, it was time to move on, she said.

“I love St. Louis. I will always put it first. Elections are about the future. I know St. Louis. We have the talent and the heart to build a better St. Louis,” said Mayor Lyda Krewson. “It is my huge honor to be the first, but there will be other women mayors in St. Louis.”

She also beamed about shattering the glass ceiling in city politics.   

“It’s my huge honor to be the first woman Mayor of St. Louis. Many future mayors will be women. The comments about pearls, hairstyles, and whether it’s mayoral to carry a purse, will all fade away. I have never been more hopeful that women everywhere, including our great new vice president-elect, will completely shatter that glass ceiling.” 

She will continue to live in the city, she said. Candidates can begin filing to run for mayor on Monday.

Krewson faced at least a three-way primary race with St. Louis Treasurer Tishaura Jones, who already declared her intent to run for mayor, and Board of Aldermen President Lewis Reed, who is likely to announce his intentions soon.

Jones narrowly lost to Krewson in the 2017 election and recently launched her campaign for mayor. She believes St. Louis needs a more level playing field for all its residents. 

“We need to have some real honest conversations about racial equity in the city, about erasing the Delmar divide, about making sure that we provide, the government provides a government for everyone to be able not to not just survive but thrive.” 

Alderwoman Cara Spencer also recently announced her candidacy for mayor. She said she has what she calls the “guts and energy” to unite the region by tackling difficult issues. Spencer believes she can help move forward a region she says has remained stagnant in many ways. 

“I want St. Louis to be place where my son can grow and flourish and have a job for him when he graduates,” she said. 

She and Jones both said they would work to develop a more regional approach to tackling issues, such as fighting the spread of COVID.

St. Louis Board of Alderman President Lewis Reed issued a statement saying it was an honor to serve by Krewson’s side.  The statement read, in part, “Her dedication and commitment to the City of St. Louis has never wavered.”

Voters just approved a change in city elections 15 earlier this month.

The top two finishers in a now non-partisan primary will face a run-off election should no one get 50 percent of the vote.

Pundits doubted Krewson’s chances in that new campaign landscape.

It was not a factor, she said.

Krewson mentioned the pandemic, racial unrest, and the high murder rate as some of the challenges of her term. She said she is rooting for the next mayor of St. Louis, whoever that may be, and did not make an endorsement.

Her political career began in the wake of personal tragedy 25 years ago.

Krewson’s husband was shot to death in front of her and their children in a car-jacking attempt at their home in the Central West End.

She got emotional speaking about gun violence again spiking in the city.

“When a person is shot or killed on our streets, it’s a gut-punch to me every time. I know that feeling and I feel for those families,” she said. “We have invested in prevention, raises for first responders, summer jobs, recreation, Cure Violence, 911 diversion…we must come to grips (as a city and a region) with the fact that when a young person is shot in any neighborhood, it affects all of our neighborhoods.”

More COVID-19 restrictions were expected to come in this press conference to match St. Louis County’s stricter guidelines. The mayor mentioned that the pandemic is a challenge for the region but did not make any new announcements on COVID-19 restrictions.