Mayor Dives into Importance of Ferguson

Catherine Prestoy, Reporter

James Knowles III spoke about his hometown of Ferguson in a way that resembled a reporter reading off a teleprompter. His clean-cut appearance was matched with his bright green Nike T-shirt, proclaiming in bold font Knowles to be Ferguson’s “MAYOR.”

Elected in April 2011, 34-year-old Knowles is the second youngest mayor known to Ferguson’s history. Knowles has lived in Ferguson for 25 years and grown up with the city.

“I clearly grew up here [and] love the area for what it is. [I’m] not trying to change it in that respect,” Knowles said. “We’re trying to change it for the better but we’re embracing our diversity. People know that I truly and sincerely believe in that.”

Growing up in the diverse city and schooling environment, Knowles was a minority within the African American majority.

“I grew up in the schools as the minority student, technically,” Knowles said. “I can relate to many of these people’s families I grew up with; many of them have known me since I was a kid.”

Knowles’ father was a city councilman, and Knowles grew up familiarizing himself with Ferguson’s city council.

“It’s kind of something that’s been ingrained in me since the time I was a young man,” Knowles said. “Though politics wasn’t something that was necessarily pushed on me, it was just something that I grew to like. ”

Elected as a young and fresh mayor, Knowles strives to update and improve Ferguson’s older buildings while expanding upon the city’s younger resident population.

“The community, at 120 years old, [there’s] a lot of things that have fallen into disrepair. We want to bring that up to the more modern standards, be able to track and maintain today’s modern family because what they expect from housing [and] communities is different.”

Knowles has focused his passion and energy into Ferguson over the past four years, and will continue to through the rest of his two years in office.