Webb chosen as next state’s attorney

Pictured, from left, Judge Chris Hitzemann swears in Ryan Webb as Monroe County Assistant State’s Attorney as Webb’s wife Kara holds the Bible. Webb will fill the vacancy of state’s attorney on Feb. 28 when current office holder Lucas Liefer begins his new position as associate judge in the 24th Judicial Circuit.

Just days after the announcement of the election to judgeship of Monroe County State’s Attorney Lucas Liefer and Assistant State’s Attorney Jennifer Becker-Roscow in the newly formed 24th Judicial Circuit, Liefer’s replacement has already been appointed.

During a special meeting Friday morning of the Monroe County Board of Commissioners, action was taken to accept Liefer’s resignation effective Feb. 28 and to appoint Ryan Webb of Columbia as his replacement. 

Webb is expected to appoint a replacement for Becker-Roscow after taking office.

Following the county board action, Webb was sworn in as assistant state’s attorney in order to become familiar with the office before becoming the county’s lead prosecutor at the end of the month.

“I’m looking forward to getting started,” Webb said, also thanking commissioners and the Monroe County Republican Central Committee for giving him the opportunity to serve as state’s attorney.

“Monroe County is a special place. Anyone that lives here knows that. I’m so glad that my wife and I get to raise our three boys here. The fact that it is such a special place is not by accident. We have strong leadership, fiscally responsible governance throughout the county and top-notch law enforcement. I believe that the office of the state’s attorney is one that has a significant – though sometimes quiet – impact, but a necessary and important one. This is a job about making sure victims receive justice, supporting our police and sheriff’s departments, and keeping our citizens safe,” Webb told the Republic-Times.

“I will do my best to fill the big shoes Mr. Liefer will leave,” Webb continued. “I look forward to working with the county board and being of assistance in any way I can.” 

Webb earned a Bachelor of Arts degree in political science from the University of Illinois in 2006 and was awarded a J.D. from the St. Thomas University School of Law in 2009.  

After passing the bar, Webb served as public defender for the 11th Judicial Circuit of Florida.

After practicing law in Chicago and Hindsdale, Webb moved to Columbia in 2010 and began work at Thompson Coburn LLP in Belleville, specializing in civil defense casework.

Since February 2021, Webb has been a supervising attorney at the Gori Law Firm in Edwardsville, specializing in municipal law.

While the board was confident in Webb’s ability to handle civil matters, Commissioner Vicki Koerber asked Webb if he felt comfortable “jumping into criminal law.”

Webb answered he has “an understanding of what the job duties of this position  require” through conversations with Liefer. 

“The Monroe County State’s Attorney is not a figurehead position. It requires a person who has experience handling multiple matters and yet providing a high level of the required legal skill to those matters.  From there, and generally, I believe the approach is one of cooperation and collaboration” among assistant state’s attorneys and office staff, the circuit clerk’s office and law enforcement, Webb said.

“I understand this is a job you do, you don’t just take,” he continued, adding, “I look forward to putting in the time and effort that are needed to keeping the consistent prosecution that began with current Judge (Chris) Hitzemann and has continued under Mr. Liefer.”

Monroe County Republican Central Committee Chairman Ed McLean told commissioners the recommendation of Webb received “unanimous” consent.

McLean added the recommendation was “very well thought out” through a “fair and balanced” process.

Former State Sen. Paul Schimpf (R-Waterloo), who Monday announced his candidacy for state’s attorney in 2024, issued a comment about Webb’s appointment.

“While I am disappointed by the results of last night’s committee vote, I am not surprised. At the beginning of January, when I informed (McLean) of my interest in the potential vacancy, he told me that I was too late in letting him know, overqualified for the position, and that county government was beneath me,” Schimpf began. “He couldn’t be more wrong. I look forward to working hard over the next year to earn the trust and votes of the people of Monroe County as their next elected State’s Attorney.”

McLean responded to Schimpf’s allegations by saying that “at no time did I ever say he would not be considered,” noting Schimpf was only one of two candidates interviewed of over 10 who reached out to the committee to be considered for the vacancy.

“I never said it was beneath him. I did ask him why he was going after a position that was much lower than the ones he was accustomed to,” McLean continued, referring to Schimpf’s time as State Senator. 

“After the interviews were completed, it was very clear that Ryan Webb was much more qualified and job-ready than Paul Schimpf,” McLean concluded. “I will rest easy knowing that the Republican committee put the safety of Monroe County citizens above politics. We did not choose a candidate because of their name recognition. We chose a qualified candidate who will not play politics with the job.”

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Scott Woodsmall

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