The Concerned Citizens of St. Tammany hosted a debate for the candidates for D.A. at the John Davis Center in Lacombe on August 26, 2014, moderated by radio personality Don Dubuc. Participating in the debate were Candidates Alan Black, Roy Burns, Warren Montgomery and Brian Trainor.
Trainor opened his statements by pointing out that he is the clear choice because he is the only candidate with law enforcement experience, uniquely understanding of the partnership between the Sheriff’s Office, the D.A.’s Office and the community. The current political climate indicates that the described partnership is rhetorical and lacking; Trainor did not indicate that he intended to initiate any major changes other than revising the office’s screening process and establishing comprehensive independent audits. Trainor takes a democratic view on issues like term limits, reserving it for public vote. Quote: “I can’t report it if it didn’t exist.”
Black is in the same spectrum as Trainor with regard to relying mainly on the existing mechanism. He has a more representational approach, and stressed the separation of powers inherent in our state and federal constitutions. Black plans to hire a former employee of the State Legislative Auditor’s Office to ensure transparency and accountability. Black is also the Chairperson for the Committee to Re-Elect Judge Dawn Amacker, according to documents relating to Amacker’s campaign finance as well as documentation on Amacker’s website. Quote: “Transparency is the word of the night.”
Burns has the most radical approach to accountability and transparency, supporting the idea of an inspector general, term limits and reducing wasteful spending, starting with chopping the salary of the office for which he is running by $50,000. Stressing conflicts of interest, he would like to “de-centralize” the office. Quote: “I can’t change human nature, but I can change the attitude towards it.”
Montgomery has experience as a federal prosecutor, and favors a team of qualified individuals combined with transparent leadership to establish integrity in the office. He also stressed that solid family foundations are integral to healthy communities, and criticized the ‘good old boy’ network. Quote: “Absolute power corrupts absolutely.”
The District Attorney debate took a turn for the surreal when former Sheriff’s Deputy Winston Cavendish asked the candidates if they would prioritize the unsolved murder of Margaret Coon, a former Assistant D.A. in the Sex Crimes Division. While all candidates agreed that unsolved murders are a priority, Trainor added that the Sheriff and D.A. Offices can’t be used “as a means to get what we want.” The ghost of Margaret Coon may very well be the defining factor in the District Attorney Race. View the debate videos here: www.ccstp.org
See more detailed summarization/partial transcript of the debate here.
Timothy Gates, Correspondent, Covington Weekly