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Politically Speaking: Mike Jones lays out challenges for public education, Missouri Democrats

Missouri Board of Education member Mike Jones
Jason Rosenbaum I St. Louis Public Radio
Missouri Board of Education member Mike Jones

Veteran Democrat Mike Jones – who has played significant roles in St. Louis and St. Louis County government – joins Politically Speaking to offer his take on how best for Democrats to regroup after their generally poor showing in the November elections.

Jones also talks policy, particularly in his current role as a member of the state Board of Education.

Jones began his political career more than three decades ago as a St. Louis alderman in the city’s 21st Ward. Since then, he’s become a go-to person for state, city and county officials.

Most recently, he’s been tapped as a consultant in the city’s deliberations of whether to privatize St. Louis Lambert International Airport. 

During the podcast, his observations included:

  • Missouri Democrats have to do a better job of communicating to the public what they stand for. Republicans have successfully rebranded Democrats as out of touch, he said.  “Now it’s a label that people use not to be a Republican,’’ he said.
  • Jones agrees that Democrats have a problem with older, rural voters, but he argues that the party may have better luck elsewhere. “The biggest political party in America is independents and nonvoters.”
  • The newly reconstituted state Board of Education’s decision to re-hire Margie Vandeven as commissioner reflected her stellar qualifications and performance, he said.
  • Jones praised the GOP-controlled state Senate for its decision to block then-Gov. Eric Greitens’ board appointees, who Greitens charged with firing Vandeven as part of his effort to overhaul public education in the state. The Senate and current Gov. Mike Parson have helped the state Board of Education regain its legitimacy, Jones said.
  • As a board member, Jones said he’s seeing first-hand that “there are issues’’ — notably transportation needs — where an urban black Democrat and a white rural Republican can agree.

Follow Jason Rosenbaum on Twitter:@jrosenbaum

Follow Jo Mannies on Twitter:@jmannies

Follow Mike Jones on Twitter:@MikeJon10308405

Music: “Back Then” by Mike Jones

Copyright 2018 St. Louis Public Radio

Since entering the world of professional journalism in 2006, Jason Rosenbaum dove head first into the world of politics, policy and even rock and roll music. A graduate of the University of Missouri School of Journalism, Rosenbaum spent more than four years in the Missouri State Capitol writing for the Columbia Daily Tribune, Missouri Lawyers Media and the St. Louis Beacon. Since moving to St. Louis in 2010, Rosenbaum's work appeared in Missouri Lawyers Media, the St. Louis Business Journal and the Riverfront Times' music section. He also served on staff at the St. Louis Beacon as a politics reporter. Rosenbaum lives in Richmond Heights with with his wife Lauren and their two sons.
Jo Mannies has been covering Missouri politics and government for almost four decades, much of that time as a reporter and columnist at the St. Louis Post-Dispatch. She was the first woman to cover St. Louis City Hall, was the newspaper’s second woman sportswriter in its history, and spent four years in the Post-Dispatch Washington Bureau. She joined the St. Louis Beacon in 2009. She has won several local, regional and national awards, and has covered every president since Jimmy Carter. She scared fellow first-graders in the late 1950s when she showed them how close Alaska was to Russia and met Richard M. Nixon when she was in high school. She graduated from Valparaiso University in northwest Indiana, and was the daughter of a high school basketball coach. She is married and has two grown children, both lawyers. She’s a history and movie buff, cultivates a massive flower garden, and bakes banana bread regularly for her colleagues.