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St. Louis may elect first African American Circuit Attorney

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ST. LOUIS (KTVI) – Voters in the City of St. Louis have made history by electing the first African-American to serve as Circuit Attorney.

She is State Representative Kimberly Gardner, (D), 77th District, and she says her top priority will be to improve the community`s trust in the Circuit Attorney`s office.

Gardner was one of four democratic candidates running for the office, but she walked away with 47 percent of the vote.

Gardner was not the only African-American candidate in the race, but winning will make her the first African-American to ever hold the office.

'To have a prosecutor for the first time ever who actually comes from a community that deals with high rates of crime as well as mistrust in the system sends a message that the office would understand, but at the same time pursue justice fairly for all individuals,' Gardner said.

One way she plans to accomplish building more trust in the office is to change the way cases are handled that involve the use of deadly force by police.

'I think the first thing we need to do is admit we need to have an independent special prosecutor and have like minds come up with a process that`s fair, but I think we have to admit we need special prosecutors in those instances and I think we know the community is calling for it and I support a fair and just process,' she said.

Gardner says she also wants to improve the diversity of the office by recruiting more minorities including Hispanics and Bosnians as well as African-Americans.

As for working with police, Gardner says she and Chief Sam Dotson have met a few times in the past while she was a state representative, but that more work needs to be done to bring the Circuit Attorney`s office and the St. Louis Police Department together to reduce crime.

'We have to build that relationship, and I look forward to doing that, but it is a two way relationship, it is not just a one way relationship to work together and move the city forward together,' Gardner said.

She adds if more people trust the Circuit Attorney`s Office, more witnesses may start coming forward to help put more criminals in prison.

Strictly speaking, Gardner still has to win the general election in November before she officially has the job, but she will be running unopposed and the St. Louis Board of Elections says it is too late for anyone else to file.