Tuesday, May 01, 2012

Response from Tishaura O. Jones, Candidate for City Treasurer

1.  What do you view as the key role, and/or attributes needed for this position (a)? What experience/attributes do you have that qualify you for this position (b)?

(a)  According to the city charter, the Treasurer shall receive and keep the money of the city, and pay out the same on warrants drawn by the comptroller and not otherwise.  This requires someone who has experience in asset and financial management.

(b) I bring a deep personal commitment, a wealth of experience, and a proven record of leadership to serving the City of St. Louis.  I have a Bachelor's degree in Finance, led a human resources department with over 185 employees, and have worked for two investment banks in my professional career.

2.   Why do you think you are the best person for this position?  What differentiates you from your opponent(s)?

I am the best candidate for Treasurer because I have the interests of the citizens of St. Louis at heart. Politicians are public servants, and this isn't just a job for me. St. Louis is double the national average of unbanked households and tops in the nation in the number of unbanked Minority households.  The Treasurer's office should be using its leverage as the City's Chief Banker to encourage local banks to invest in the City, decrease the number of households that are unbanked, and increase the overall financial health of our citizens. Also, my experience in the financial sector allows me to employ the right tools to maximize the return on investment on the $1.5 billion currently under management and direct those funds to the city budget.   

3.   What do you feel are the most pressing issues currently facing this office and what plans do you have to address these issues? (please be specific)

The most pressing issues facing this office is 1) lack of adequate financial management, 2) lack of concentration on the mission of the office as stated in the city charter and 3) lack of transparency. I plan on addressing the financial management issue by recruiting staff to complement my experience in financial management and concentrate on maximizing the return on investment on the $1.5 billion currently under management and turning that money over to city funds. This will in turn address the issue of lack of concentration on the mission of the office. Transparency can be addressed in one of two ways. If HB1140 becomes law, it would require the City of St. Louis to post its financial information on the Missouri Accountability Portable. If it doesn't, I plan to create an 'Open Checkbook,' where anyone who logs on to the Treasurer's website can view how every tax dollar is spent.

4.   If the St. Louis City Earnings Tax would ever fail to be renewed, what broad-based, stable source of revenue would you recommend to fund quality, public services?

An increase in property tax would be the only Non-regressive way to replace the revenue. I sponsored legislation to extend time period between reauthorization of the earnings tax from 5 years to 20 years.

5.   In your opinion, should the office of the Treasurer be in charge of the City of St. Louis Parking and/or the funds generated from the City of St. Louis Parking?

The Treasurer's office still has outstanding debt and the parking fund has to first cover the debt.  State law mandates this, however, parking is not rocket science. I propose moving it into a separate department, hiring/appointing someone who has experience in Urban Planning and design to run the department, and keep the Treasurer's office still responsible for oversight and for collecting the parking revenue. This is a common set up in most municipalities.

6.   Describe how you work with, or will work with, others to address your priorities.

The Treasurer's office is a county office so any changes in the law require relationships in the state legislature. As Asst. Minority Leader, I have colleagues in both the House and the Senate and would be able to accomplish this. I also have a good relationship with several current and former City Treasurers in other major cities and plan on replicating programs and ideas that work to address my top two priorities, sound fiscal management and transparency, and financial empowerment. Last but not least, I have good working relationships with the Board of Aldermen and other city-wide elected officials, which is needed to address accompanying city ordinances and to fulfill other duties as required by state law.

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