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Parson wants St. Louis circuit attorney applications in by noon Monday

Carnahan Courthouse in downtown St. Louis is home to the St. Louis City Distirct of the criminal justice system.
Paul Sableman
The Mel Carnahan Courthouse in downtown St. Louis is home to the St. Louis circuit attorney's office.

Gov. Mike Parson is seeking applications for the next St. Louis circuit attorney, and he wants them in quickly so he can make the appointment by the time Kim Gardner leaves office on June 1.

On Wednesday, Parson announced a noon Monday deadline to apply for the job. He's asking for applicants who are a “member of the St. Louis community” with “strong managerial experience” and a “record of fair and just application of state and local law.”

"We truly want the best person for the job who can restore law and order to our great city of St. Louis," Parson said in a statement. "The prosecutor we appoint has a real opportunity to make meaningful and lasting change that strengthens public safety. We encourage any qualified person who is committed to the rule of law and thinks they have what it takes for this challenge ahead to apply and be considered.”

One of the prerequisites that Parson didn’t list in his press release was party affiliation. It’s possible the GOP chief executive may appoint a Democrat to succeed Gardner, primarily because a Republican appointee would almost certainly lose a general election in heavily Democratic St. Louis in 2024.

Others are also hoping Parson takes racial diversity into consideration. St. Louis is split nearly evenly between white and Black residents, and African American candidates have had more success in city elections by forging multiracial political coalitions.

State Rep. LaKeySha Bosley, D-St. Louis, said Parson should consult with city leaders like herself — as well as the public.

“I think that we have some very good qualified attorneys all across the city,” Bosley said. “And I think that we will be lucky to have a multitude of them apply, and I hope that they do apply. So I don't know who I would like to see there.”

Potential appointees include state Sen. Steve Roberts, D-St. Louis; Assistant U.S. Attorney Ashley Walker, and St. Louis Circuit Judge Michael Noble. Noble is the judge who is holding Gardner and one of her former assistants in indirect criminal contempt; he called her office a “rudderless ship of chaos.”

Ultimately, Bosley said, the people of St. Louis will make the final call in next year’s election on who will be circuit attorney beginning in January 2025.

“I say whomever the people of the city of St. Louis wants to have, it should be their decision and their vote,” Bosley said.

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