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Politically Speaking: Alderwoman Heather Navarro expects board to take action on tax breaks, energy

Alderwoman Heather Navarro, D-28th Ward
Jason Rosenbaum I St. Louis Public Radio
The Missouri Coalition for the Environment has struggled to find its focus in the last decade, said executive director Heather Navarro.

On the latest edition of the Politically Speaking podcast, St. Louis Public Radio’s Jason Rosenbaum welcomes St. Louis Alderwoman Heather Navarro onto the program.

Navarro recently took office as the alderwoman for the 28th Ward, a spot that became vacant after Lyda Krewson was elected mayor earlier this year. Navarro represents six neighborhoods, including the Central West End, Skinker DeBaliviere and Hi Pointe neighborhoods.

A native Kankakee, Illinois, Navarro received her undergraduate and law school degree from Washington University. In addition to her aldermanic duties, she serves as the executive director of the Missouri Coalition for the Environment. That group has sought to reduce the state’s dependency on coal and remove radioactive waste from the West Lake Landfill.

Navarro won a July special election to fill out the rest of Krewson’s term. She will have to run again for a full four-year term in the spring of 2019.

Here’s what Navarro had to say during the show:

  • She expects aldermen to debate legislation that would set the standards for how tax incentives are sent throughout the city. She said one possible approach is reducing the number of tax abatements or tax increment financing plans that go to wealthier neighborhoods. “There already has been a lot of good conversation about that, so I’m excited to see that move forward,” she said. “I think that will help the city, and help us as aldermen, as well, to be more efficient.”
  • As aldermen mull over whether to adopt a resolution to wean the city off of fossil fuels by 2035, Navarro said city government could do things now to become more energy efficient. That includes buying city owned cars that are more fuel efficient and upgrading streetlights with newer bulbs. “When we’re looking to save money, we’ve got a lot of opportunities there,” she said. “Switching over to LED lights is something that we’re already in the process of doing.”
  • With Krewson taking most of the responsibility for managing the city’s police department, Navarro said aldermen should develop policies that deal with root causes of crime — such as poverty. “We need to be looking at salaries and pensions and all of that,” she said. “But the other side of the coin we have not invested in as much — and that is how ‘do we get social services, mental health services, after school programs, jobs programs?’”
  • She added that the Board of Aldermen can’t provide robust mental health or jobs program without a financial commitment from the state of Missouri.

Follow Jason Rosenbaum on Twitter: @jrosenbaum

Follow Heather Navarro on Twitter: @HeatherNSTL

Music: “Elastic Heart” by Sia

Jason is the politics correspondent for St. Louis Public Radio.

Send questions and comments about this story to feedback@stlpublicradio.org.