Governor-elect Bill Haslam has named Shelby Count y District Attorney General Bill Gibbons to serve as Commissioner of the state Department of Safety and Homeland Security. Haslam also announced his intention to nominate the county’s deputy D.A., Amy Weirich to succeed Gibbons as Attorney General.
Haslam made the announcements Wednesday at a press conference in Gibbons’ office in the Criminal Justice Center at 201 Poplar. He expressed satisfaction that Gibbons had accepted the appointment because, as the governor-elect said in a prepared statement, “during the campaign he elevated the conversation around crime and public safety.”
Following up on that during a Q and Q with reporters, Haslam said that the idea to appoint Gibbons to his new state duties was influenced by the D.A.’s emphasis on public safety during his own short-lived gubernatorial campaign. And Haslam said he was also impressed by conversations the two of them had on the subjects of law enforcement and public safety during his several meetings with Gibbons during campaign visits to Memphis.
After Gibbons’ own withdrawal from the governor’s race, pilgrimages to his office and tours of the C.J.C. became a standard practice for all remaining gubernatorial candidates.
Haslam said he decided to appoint Gibbons on the basis of his qualifications, not his place of residence, but acknowledged that Gibbons' Shelby County experience was an additional plus. The governor-elect said Gibbons would continue to serve as the chairman of Operation Safe Community here, and the D.A. said that, like his wife Julia, a federal appeals court judge in the 6th Circuit, based in Cincinnati, he intended to do extensive commuting back and forth to Memphis.
Gibbons likened the new opportunity to serve at the state level to the “unexpected” call he got from former Governor Don Sundquist in 1996 to become District Attorney General. At that time he was in private practice and serving as a Shelby County Commissioner.
Weirich was appointed deputy District Attorney in August 2010 and was the first woman to hold that position. She will also be the first woman to serve as District Attorney General