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Politically Speaking: Harmon hopes to bring outsider perspective to circuit attorney office

Steve Harmon
Jason Rosenbaum I St. Louis Public Radio

On the latest edition of the Politically Speaking podcast, St. Louis Public Radio’s Jason Rosenbaum, Jo Mannies and Rachel Lippmann are pleased to welcome circuit attorney hopeful Steve Harmon to the program.

Harmon is one of four Democratic candidates competing to succeed St. Louis Circuit Attorney Jennifer Joyce, who has decided against running for re-election. And since St. Louis is a Democratic stronghold, the winner of the Aug. 2 primary will likely become Joyce’s successor.

We’ve recorded podcasts with all four Democratic candidates, which we will post throughout the week.

Harmon served as a police officer for roughly 20 years. In addition to two graduate degrees, Harmon received his law degree in the mid-2000s. He worked for the St. Louis County’s counselor’s office before he took on his current job as staff attorney for the St. Louis Public Schools.

(Harmon's father, Clarence Harmon, served as St. Louis' police chief in the 1990s and was St. Louis' mayor from 1997 to 2001.) 

Harmon jumped into the circuit attorney’s race before Joyce announced she wouldn’t run for another term. He’s been critical of how Joyce has operated the circuit attorney’s office, adding that he would hire a more diverse array of attorneys and support staff.

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

  • Harmon has never worked in the circuit attorney's office before, a plus for his campaign, he said. "I'm non-establishment," Harmon said. "The other candidates were either hired, trained, or recruited by Jennifer Joyce. I think some of the people in that office bear some of the responsibilities that has led to some of the distrust in the community."
  • A more diverse circuit attorney's office would serve St. Louis much better, Harmon said, adding that "often people of color in this community and across the country are less trusting of people in authority that are not like them." The consequences? "So when you have a staff that is non-diverse, it brings lack of trust to that community," he said. "Therefore you have lack of cooperation."
  • He wants to introduce "community-oriented prosecution" to St. Louis, which includes having prosecutors assigned geographically throughout the city. "The citizens within a given community would have a prosecutor assigned to them," he said. "They would know who their prosecutor is. They would have access to their prosecutor. They would be able to contact their prosecutor and let them know what types of offenses are being committed in their particular area."
  • He said he would "willing to look at" appointing an outside prosecutor when there's a police-involved killing. "There's numerous examples on why that would not be a good idea versus why it would be," he said. "So I think it would be on a case-by-case basis and I would have to look at all the facts involved."

Follow Jason Rosenbaum on Twitter: @jrosenbaum

Follow Jo Mannies on Twitter: @jmannies

Follow Rachel Lippmann on Twitter: @rlippmann

Follow Steve Harmon on Twitter: @harmonlegal2016

Music: “Teen Age Riot” by Sonic Youth

Jason is the politics correspondent for St. Louis Public Radio.
Jo Mannies has been covering Missouri politics and government for almost four decades, much of that time as a reporter and columnist at the St. Louis Post-Dispatch. She was the first woman to cover St. Louis City Hall, was the newspaper’s second woman sportswriter in its history, and spent four years in the Post-Dispatch Washington Bureau. She joined the St. Louis Beacon in 2009. She has won several local, regional and national awards, and has covered every president since Jimmy Carter. She scared fellow first-graders in the late 1950s when she showed them how close Alaska was to Russia and met Richard M. Nixon when she was in high school. She graduated from Valparaiso University in northwest Indiana, and was the daughter of a high school basketball coach. She is married and has two grown children, both lawyers. She’s a history and movie buff, cultivates a massive flower garden, and bakes banana bread regularly for her colleagues.
Rachel is the justice correspondent at St. Louis Public Radio.