St. Louis circuit attorney gets into heated debate with 2020 opponent during video conference

Missouri

ST. LOUIS – An online meeting among local political candidates was upstaged by a feud between St. Louis Circuit Attorney Kim Gardner and her opponent in the upcoming election, Mary Pat Carl.

Carl, who was the city’s lead homicide attorney and prosecutor for 15 years, left the circuit attorney’s office after Gardner’s election.

On Thursday, the two debated on who is more fit for the position. Carl, who battles Bell’s Palsy, said the condition has strengthened her for this job.

“The power of resilience,” she said. “The ability to dig deep in difficult times and push through pain and actually make a change in our lives for the better. That’s the same message I’m bringing to the criminal justice system.”

Gardner’s message during Thursday’s meeting is that everyone’s life matters. She also went after the local police union spokesman and Missouri Attorney General Eric Schmitt.

“I’ll tell you who won’t stop me from reforming system is police union chief Jeff Roorda; doesn’t matter,” Gardner said. “The Trump wannabe Missouri attorney general, along with others that continue to tell lies and divisive rhetoric.”

Carl said circuit attorney’s office is dysfunctional and nobody wants to stay.

“We’re down to 17 trial attorneys and cases are being handed off from one attorney to another,” she said. “That’s not stability and cases are being dismissed because nobody is there to try them.”

Gardner took umbrage with that claim.

“You have no facts to back up lies. Ms. Carl talking about 17 attorneys,” Gardner said. “She is talking lies of misinformation perpetuated by Jeff Roorda, who supports her.”

Carl said she does not have a professional relationship with Roorda.

“I didn’t serve with him, didn’t’ co-sponsor legislation with him, (we’re) not friends, I don’t have police officers’ endorsements in 2020,” she said. “I sat in a room with my opponent, she asked for his endorsement in 2016.”

Gardner denied that allegation about Roorda, adding this election is about her continuing reform, while Carl says it’s time to rebuild the department.

Both Gardner and Carl agreed that the St. Louis Workhouse, a medium-security prison in the city which houses non-violent offenders and costs $16 million a year to operate (which will be cut by more than 50 percent next year), should be closed.

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