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FERGUSON, Mo. (AP) — Voters in Ferguson, Missouri, opted for experience over change in re-electing a mayor who has led them through a tumultuous 32 months since the fatal police shooting of Michael Brown thrust the St. Louis suburb into the national debate over race.

James Knowles III won a third term, holding off a challenge Tuesday from city Councilwoman Ella Jones, who was seeking to become Ferguson’s first-ever black mayor. It will be Knowles’ final term in office, due to term limits.

Voters also approved a ballot measure adding strict police body camera requirements to the city charter. Officers already use cameras, but the new policy will require them to be on virtually all the time and seeks to make footage more accessible to the public.

Knowles, 37 and a lifelong Ferguson resident, was first elected as a councilman at age 25, and was just 31 when he was elected mayor. Jones, 62, a retired Mary Kay executive, was elected to the council in 2015, her first elected position.

Ferguson was thrust into the national consciousness after white police officer Darren Wilson fatally shot Brown on Aug. 9, 2014. The shooting of the unarmed, black 18-year-old led to months of sometimes violent protests and was a catalyst for the “Black Lives Matter” movement. Wilson was cleared of wrongdoing and resigned in November 2014.

But the investigation led to a U.S. Justice Department lawsuit over racially biased police and court practices. A settlement calls for significant changes in operations, including sensitivity training for officers, adoption of community policing techniques, court reforms and other measures.

The process is expected to cost more than $2 million and could take years. However, Attorney General Jeff Sessions announced Monday that he’ll review the effectiveness of existing and proposed consent decrees, including in Ferguson.

Knowles told The Associated Press he has had no contact with anyone at the Department of Justice.

“Nobody’s talked to us,” Knowles said. “We’re not asking to have it changed.”

Knowles said Ferguson has “voluntarily made a tremendous amount of reforms in our police department. We’re not going back on those reforms.”

Gary Kemp, a 68-year-old retiree, said he voted for Knowles because he’s been a strong leader in the toughest of circumstances.

“He’s led us through some difficult times,” Kemp said. “We have faith that he’s totally invested in Ferguson and he’ll lead us through these difficult hours.”

Ferguson officers have used body cameras since a few weeks after Brown was shot, when two companies donated cameras. But critics cite flaws, including too many cases when the cameras aren’t on, limited public access to the footage and a policy that allows officers to review footage before filing reports.

The ballot measure requires officers to have the cameras on virtually all the time, forces the city to maintain body camera video for at least two years and makes footage from public places widely available. There is no estimate of the cost of the changes, Knowles said, but both mayoral candidates supported the measure.

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21 thoughts on “Mayor Who Led Ferguson Through Turmoil Is Re-Elected

  1. Kates, Mr. Kemp voted for him because he thought he was the best man for the job. When I say black folks should vote it doesn’t mean I want them to vote for someone just because they are black, voter turn-out was UNACCEPTIBLY low.
    “…instead of the color of his skin. It could happen.” Right! I voted in several elections prior to ’08 and most of the people on the ballot that I voted for were white, color has nothing to do with it MOST of the time, I voted for Hillary and she is white. I didn’t vote for the orange hitler because he is an idiot and I don’t believe in him as a leader. But here’s the thing, although my candidate of choice didn’t win (nor were they nominated) I VOTED! These people didn’t bother to show up at the polls. They don’t want change, and I can’t want it for them more than they do. So be it.

  2. Diane on said:

    Will someone tell me what the hell has the republithugs done for the blk community. I’m sick of hearing about how lil the Dems do for the inner city. The republithugs are holding 30 governor seats. Countless state legislature seats. Not to mention the US Congress and Senate. What the hell have they done??

    • Chris on said:

      Who’s been the mayor for Baltimore, Cleveland, Detroit, St. Louis, Camden, Chicago, Milwaukee, Oakland, Little Rock……………………………………for the last 50 years.
      The Republicans have just recently come into office.

  3. Chris on said:

    “The shooting of the unarmed, black 18-year-old led to months of sometimes violent protests and was a catalyst for the “Black Lives Matter” movement. Wilson was cleared of wrongdoing and resigned in November 2014.”
    This POS bullshirt story needs some honest editing. It should read in part.
    “The shooting of thug Michael Brown, who tried to wrestle away Police Officer Darren Wilson and charged at him without his hands up, led to months of violent riots that destroyed multiple business’, many that were owned by black people. As much as the POTUS and AG tried, sending dozens of investigators, they could not find a shred of evidence to indict Officer Wilson. Wilson’s career was ruined and was forced to resign.”

    Racist Holder, with orders from his boss, tried his best to get an indictment. They asked for multiple autopsies, Holder all but set the expectation of an indictment without viewing any of the evidence. Holder met with just the Brown family, what about meeting with the Wison family. Blatant bias ignored by the MSM.
    Obama’s favorite tax cheat of an advisor, Al Sharpton, whispering in his ear insisting that Wilson should be imprisoned.
    The family’s autopsy expert claims he was shot in the hand in the door of the police car. Never in the back.
    The parents, POTUS, the AG, Ferguson protestors, the paid agitators, community organizers and Missouri governor were not interested in justice. They just wanted the easy way out. Lawyers for the family needed an indictment so they can successfully sue later.

    As long as blacks allow themselves to be portrayed as victims, as long as liberals continue to portray bad black behavior as justified, and as long as black parents don’t rein in their children and keep them off the streets at all hours of the night, there will be more Fergusons and unfortunately, that appears to be what Democrats and their media want.

    Justice is a concept of moral rightness based on ethics, rationality, law, religion, equity and fairness. Something, none of the above can comprehend.

  4. specialt757 on said:

    It’s sad to say over and over again, if black folks want a change, they have to do something different. VOTE.

      • I don’t know special. Sometimes just being black is not enough to get blacks to vote for you. Who knows, Mr. Kemp just may be one of those who voted for him because of the job he did, instead of the color of his skin. It could happen.

      • Chris on said:

        What do expect when black people continue to vote for democrats every November?

      • specialt757 on said:

        We get the same thing we’ve been getting, no change. Blacks make up the majority of the 26k+ people but you probably can count the number of blacks that went to the polls on two hands. They obviously like the way they are treated and don’t think they deserve better. You had hundreds of folks who came from hither and yonder to have their backs (except for the trouble makers), but what do the black residents do to help themselves when they have the chance? NOTHING!!!!

    • Arthur Childress on said:

      @ specialt The city has 26,000 + registered voters…3,056 voted. With those kind of numbers and based on the history of Ferguson it’s pretty clear the people just don’t care! I’m done with them.

      • Diane on said:

        I’ve begun done with this issue since the last election, when the ppl refuse to participate in the voting process. They get what they get.

    • Arthur Childress on said:

      @ specialt One more thing specialt, some people will sit and watch the same movie over and over thinking if they watch it enough times, the ending will change. It doesn’t and it wont.

      • specialt757 on said:

        I agree. It makes me angry to see my folks sit on asses when they can change their circumstances and don’t. SHOW UP AT THE DARN POLLS!!!
        It’s clear, they don’t care.

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