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Kim Gardner

St. Louis Circuit Attorney

gardner-kimKim Gardner never planned to become a prosecutor.

Gardner, a lifelong St. Louisan whose family runs a funeral home, started her professional life as a nurse. When she did decide to go to law school, it was to pursue a career in healthcare law. Even after someone suggested the prosecutor’s office, Gardner wasn’t immediately sure it was for her.

Eventually, she gave it a chance and spent a few years in the St. Louis Circuit attorney’s office. She went on to work in private practice and won a seat in the Missouri House in 2012.

In 2016, she decided to run for circuit attorney after Jennifer Joyce announced she would not seek re-election.

Gardner ran on the platform of reducing serious and violent crime in the city. She beat out three other candidates in the August Democratic primary and was unopposed in the general election.

“I’m blessed,” Gardner said the day after she won the primary. “It’s a great win for everybody in the city of St. Louis that came together and wants to make the city safer. I am so honored they would pick me to do that with them.”

Gardner took office at the start of the year, making her Missouri’s first black female elected prosecutor.

“It’s truly an honor,” Gardner said on her first day in office.

Between the August primary and her first day in office, Gardner prepared for the transition, including meeting with Joyce a few times.

Shortly after the election, Joyce said she thought the office would be in good hands with Gardner.

“I’ve known Kim for a long time. I hired her as a prosecutor and supported her in her two attempts to be state representative… I think it’s no secret I think very highly of her,” she said.

In addition to those meetings, Gardner said her transition team has been looking at different departments and planning how to move forward.

“One thing we’re looking at is structure,” Gardner said. “We want to be smart on crime and tough on serious crime.”

Gardner said she is big on expanding diversion programs. She also wants to look at all existing programs to see what works and what could be improved.

She plans to carry on Joyce’s work of protecting witness and victim information, which has been a major issue involving a number of lawsuits. The most recent court decision said that the prosecutor’s office doesn’t have to turn over certain information, like date of birth and social security numbers, but must release a last known address.

“Now I want to make sure protections are in in place,” she said, saying legislative action is the next step.

In addition to other preparations, Gardner also had to be ready for changes to Missouri’s Criminal Code, which went into effect at the start of the year. She said it was important to make sure there were no glitches with new charges and so far, it seemed to be going well.

Gardner said she’s excited to take on the role and loves the office.