Tom Gibbons has confirmed he will run again for Madison County State's Attorney, a position he has held since first appointed in 2010.
Gibbons, a Democrat, was elected twice to the position by voters. In the meantime, attorney Tom Haine, Republican, announced he is seeking to be elected as the county's top law enforcement official.
A native of Edwardsville, Gibbons joined the State's Attorney's office in 1998 after graduating from St. Louis University Law School.
During his time as an assistant state's attorney, he was head of the misdemeanor and traffic division and involved in the development of the domestic violence court. From 2001, Gibbons pursued a private career but, from 2004, worked part time for the office.
He received a masters in public administration at Southern Illinois University at Edwardsville in 2003.
What do you believe are the strongest arguments that you can make for re-election?
Our partnerships with community members, local leaders and with our outstanding local law enforcement have made a tremendous difference in our ability to secure justice.
When we convict a violent criminal, who came to Madison County to harm one of our citizens or businesses - we make sure they get a heavy dose of Madison County justice. We hold violent criminals accountable and we don’t back down from a fight.
My team of prosecutors are the toughest and smartest in the state and they work hard every day to stop criminals and keep our community safe.
Can you reveal some of the more outstanding moments during your tenure, one way or the other, and do any particular cases stand out? What would you say were your most notable accomplishments?
The creation of our Children’s Justice Division has resulted in an extraordinary increase in convictions and the length of prison sentences in cases of child sexual assault. Victims can get justice for the despicable crimes committed against them because perpetrators are now being convicted and sentenced to decades of prison time. This division is led by Assistant State’s Attorney Kathleen Nolan.
Another important accomplishment came from the creation of our Violent Crimes Unit (VCU). This specialized team of highly-skilled prosecutors arrives on-scene as soon as a serious crime occurs, and they stay with the case all the way through the trial. Working hand in hand with investigators from the very beginning, we are able to secure the evidence we need to charge and convict the most violent offenders. The VCU murder trial conviction rate is 100%. First Assistant State’s Attorney Crystal Uhe is the Chief of the VCU and is personally responsible for over half of the murder convictions secured by the Unit.
As far as specific cases go - the ones with children as victims hit closest to home. As a father, I pray every night for the safety of my boys and for all the children and other vulnerable members of our community.
In 2014, we secured a guilty verdict for the murder of a little boy, his mother and her unborn child. The case had gone cold for several years, but our VCU never gave up - ultimately breaking the case, charging the defendant with first-degree murder and convicting the defendant at trial for the three lives taken. He was sentenced to life in prison.
In 2016, I tried the case of the brutal beating and murder of a 20-month-old little boy. Seeing the horrors that baby suffered at the hands of the defendant drove us to work overtime for months to ensure we had the best case to give to the jury. Once the jurors heard all the evidence, they delivered a verdict of guilty on first degree murder. He was sentenced to 70 years in prison.
It was both a humbling and overwhelming experience to be able to secure justice for that little boy and his family. I will never forget him and the suffering he endured, and those memories drive me to work tirelessly to fight against violent crimes and especially, all crimes against children and other vulnerable members of our community.
With the rise in exploitation of senior citizens, we have again joined with our partners in law enforcement to ramp up our efforts to investigate and prosecute crimes of elder abuse and exploitation. Our Elder Justice division has specially trained, experienced prosecutors who work directly with local detectives to stop these crimes and protect vulnerable members of our community. We have already secured substantial victories in court for our elder victims of abuse and exploitation.
Throughout my tenure as State’s Attorney, we have raised the bar on criminal justice - locking up violent offenders for longer and finding more efficient and effective ways to hold non-violent offenders accountable while providing them a path to redemption and back to a law-abiding life. This balanced approach has made the work of the State’s Attorney’s Office over the last nine years a resounding success.
You will be facing announced opposition from Tom Haine. How would you articulate the differences between you as an incumbent and your declared opponent?
I have been putting criminals behind bars for almost 20 years and the citizens of Madison County have seen the positive results of our fight to give violent criminals a heavy dose of Madison County justice.
Citizens know that I will always fight for their rights - both in the courtroom, in the policies of the office and in my private life. I’ve spent my entire time as State’s Attorney advocating for concealed carry for our residents and, as a licensed concealed carry instructor, volunteering to teach hundreds of brave citizens how to safely and effectively protect themselves, their loved ones and their homes through lawful self-defense.
Like most people in the community, I know very little about my opponent. After completing his military service and a brief period as a judicial clerk, he’s only lived back in the area for a couple years and hasn’t been active in the community.
As far as his abilities as a lawyer, it’s hard to tell. I don’t think he’s ever stepped foot into the Madison County criminal courts, so he remains untested. I’m sure he’s a perfectly nice young man with lofty aspirations. I would recommend to him that he spend some time fighting against murderers and child predators before presuming to know what it takes to lead the amazing team of professionals at the State’s Attorney’s office.
His father ended up being very highly respected as State’s Attorney, but his entry into the office without any experience in criminal prosecution put him at a significant disadvantage - leading to several violent criminals walking free and leaving victims without justice.
Our county can’t afford to have another inexperienced and untested person lead the fight for the safety of our community. I have been tested and have shown my ability to deliver justice for the people of Madison County and it would be an honor to continue that fight for them.