Promising a high level of public safety, Gore takes over as St. Louis circuit attorney
A former federal prosecutor and member of the Ferguson Commission has officially taken over the circuit attorney’s office in St. Louis.
Gabriel Gore took the oath Tuesday in the ceremonial courtroom at the Mel Carnahan Courthouse in downtown, in front of an audience that included St. Louis Mayor Tishaura Jones, St. Louis County Executive Sam Page, former Gov. Jay Nixon, and several judges of the 22nd Circuit.
Gov. Mike Parson appointed Gore to the role May 19, after former Circuit Attorney Kim Gardner abruptly left office earlier than expected. Gore said he was thankful to Parson for the opportunity to “restore the public trust and confidence in the circuit attorney’s office.”
“It is a responsibility that I accept knowing that failure is not an option,” he said. “I seek a high level of public safety for every citizen in the St. Louis region. That is what is necessary for our region to prosper and thrive.”
Gardner called herself a progressive prosecutor, with a heavy emphasis on diversion. Gore promised to be a prosecutor who “looks at the facts and enforces the law as written.”
Gore’s first major challenge will be staffing. Though exact numbers were never clear, the number of prosecutors handling violent crimes was in the single digits at the time of Gardner’s departure. And Gore said Tuesday that of the five positions he considers senior staff, it was his understanding that just one – chief of misdemeanors – was filled.
The attorney general’s office provided prosecutors to get the warrant office reopened – it had been run using an email inbox since the beginning of the COVID-19 pandemic. Prosecutors from six neighboring counties have also offered their assistance.
“In the short term, we absolutely are ready to send some folks down,” said St. Louis County Prosecutor Wesley Bell. “We had internally anticipated this for a while.”
Gore said he had heard from many former assistant circuit attorneys who were interested in returning as well.
“They are extremely devoted to this office, and they want to see it succeed,” he said.
Gore also pledged to improve the relationship between the circuit attorney and the St. Louis Metropolitan Police Department, which was often publicly at odds with Gardner. He and Chief Robert Tracy had already spoken several times on the phone before Tuesday’s ceremony.
Tracy said he’s looking forward to working with Gore.
“We're always going to have some differences, especially between the judicial, the prosecutors and the police. But we're always working them out. And I like to work out some of those things behind closed doors,” Tracy said.
Gore on Tuesday declined to say whether he had any interest in running for a full term in the office next year, saying he hadn’t even given himself a timeline to make that decision.
“I’m still in the period where 100% of my focus is on getting the office stabilized,” he said. “Literally, that’s all I think about all day. Since I’ve been appointed, that’s all I’ve been thinking about.”
Defense attorney David Mueller had already announced his campaign, and several others are considering a run.