Election Day is less than three weeks away and one of the races on the ballot in St. Landry Parish is the race for District Attorney.
Incumbent Charles Cravins (D) is facing a challenge from candidate Chad Pitre (R).
Cravins, of Opelousas, is the Democratic incumbent candidate for District Attorney, serving since February 2020.
Pitre, of Washington, is a Republican candidate who is currently working as an attorney with his law firm and a special assistant attorney general for Jeff Landry in Baton Rouge and who has 30 years of law enforcement experience.
Please give a brief description of your professional background and volunteer experience.
Pitre: “I’ve been an attorney for a little over 20 years. In that time I’ve handled both jury trials, bench trials, I’ve handled criminal cases, I’ve handled civil cases, I’ve been prosecutor, and I’ve been an assistant district attorney. Currently I serve a special assistant attorney general for Jeff Landry in Baton Rouge and I have almost 30 years of law enforcement experience on the federal level, state level, and local level.”
Cravins: “I’ve been a business owner as well as a promoter for local culture for zydeco and creole for all my life. I still have a radio program that started in 1986 and still on the air. I’ve owned a insurance agency. I was a governmental coordinator of affairs for a congress member. I came to the district attorney's office as a chief administrative officer before I went to law school. I became an assistant district attorney then first assistant district attorney. Now since February 3rd, I’ve been District Attorney of the 27th JDC.”
Why did you decide to run for district attorney?
Pitre:"One of the main reasons I'm running is to prove to people that they can still elect a public official who'll do what they say they'll do, who'll keep their campaign promises, not just on the campaign trail but but keep those promises once they're in office. I think you do that by being grounded, by having integrity, by putting God first in your life and that's what I strive to do each and everyday."
Cravins: “I just feel a need to give back to this area that I love so much. I love St. Landry Parish I love the people here we have a wonderful people and I just want to be a part of what’s good in this parish.”
What areas are you looking to focus on as a district attorney?
Pitre: “Change is needed in leadership at the St. Landry Parish District Attorney's office. There’s almost 6,500 felony backlog cases that have not yet gone to trial. 42 of those are homicide cases and those numbers are unacceptable. To make matters worse, they are over 6,500 victims and victims families who have received no justice. It’s time for a change and the problem is not in law enforcement. St. Landry Parish law enforcement officers are some of the best in Louisiana, the problem is a lack of prosecution.”
Cravins: “My first day in office, I had a meeting with all local law enforcement agencies and we changed our intake procedure in such a way that we reduce the time between arrest and the resolution of the case by four months on average. We’ve also come up with some witness protection programs we’ve also instituted a truancy program that we were able to get funding for from the state with the help of of our local legislatures.”
Where would you like to see the St. Landry Parish District attorney’s office improved and how would you do that?
Pitre: “The District Attorney's office in St. Landry Parish is broken. That’s why I change is needed in the leader ship. It’s time to go to work. The top three attorneys at the St. Landry Parish DA's office collectively make over $500,000 a year and they do not try felony cases. That needs to be changed. The resources need to be directed into the courtroom and to the criminal docket, to work with our judges, to work with our law enforcement partners in order to alleviate this backlog.”
Cravins: "There's not one file out there that we are not prosecuting actively and aggressively. If there are criminals who are out there who are not being prosecuted and who are not being brought into court is because they have an active bench warrant that has not be executed by the law enforcement agency."
Do you see the District Attorney's office moving in a positive direction and how would you add to that?
Pitre: “I think it all goes back to having safe streets and safe neighborhoods. If you have safe streets, if you have safe neighborhoods, if the crime is being reduced, then it’s a better quality of life for everyone and not just a select few. That’s what we’re striving to do, but it takes hard work and it takes prosecution.”
Cravins: "The district's attorney's office needs to be independent. The reason that people need to vote for me is that we're just real. My experience is real, my independence is real, and that's what St. Landry Parish needs in a district attorney."
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