Ella Jones became the first African American and first woman elected mayor in Ferguson, Missouri, nearly six years after protests erupted in the city over the death of Michael Brown, a black teenager shot and killed by a white police officer.
Jones, 65, won a historic victory Tuesday as protests continued across the country following the death of George Floyd, who died after a white police officer knelt on his neck for more than eight minutes. She took 54% of the vote against challenger Heather Robinett who took 46%, according to the St. Louis County Board of Elections.
“It’s just our time,” Jones told the St. Louis Post-Dispatch. “It’s just my time to do right by the people.”
When asked what her historic election would mean for Ferguson’s black residents, she the outlet, “One word: inclusion.”
Jones, who became the first black woman elected to city council seven months after Brown's death, has worked as a chemist, a pastor and a Mary Kay Cosmetics sales director, according to her staff biography.
After losing to incumbent Mayor James Knowles III in 2017, Jones will succeed Knowles, who could not run for reelection because of term limits. Knowles served as mayor for nine years and led the city during the unrest after Brown's death.
Brown's death thrust the community into the international spotlight, spurring months of protests and turning the city into the focal point of the national debate about policing in African American communities.
The incident prompted a Justice Department investigation resulted in a consent agreement reached in 2016 that requires significant changes in Ferguson, including municipal court reforms, community policing efforts, hiring more minority officers, and improved policies in areas such as use of body cameras and search and seizure practices.
Both Jones and her challenger Robinett, 49, said if elected they would help the city continue implementing the changes outlined in the agreement.
“I’ve got work to do – because when you’re an African American woman, they require more of you than they require of my counterpart,” Jones said after her win in a video posted by a reporter online. “I know the people in Ferguson are ready to stabilize their community, and we’re going to work together to get it done.”
Contributing: The Associated Press; Aamer Madhani, USA TODAY
Follow N'dea Yancey-Bragg on Twitter: @NdeaYanceyBragg
This article originally appeared on USA TODAY: Ferguson elects Ella Jones as first black, female mayor