EBR council member running for District Court judge _lowres

Trae Welch

East Baton Rouge Parish Metro Councilman Trae Welch says he plans to run for 19th Judicial District judge.

Welch, 42, plans to challenge longtime District Court Judge Mike Erwin, who is seeking his fifth term in office this November.

Welch is a second-term member of the Metro Council, representing the Baker-Zachary areas of the parish. He also works as the Zachary city prosecutor and previously sat on the Baker City Council.

“This is a continuation of the public service I’ve been doing as a lawyer, as a prosecutor and a councilman,” he said. “But no entity can have as much of an impact on an individual life as much as the judicial branch can.”

Welch’s council term extends through 2016, and he can continue to serve through the election and retain his seat in the event he loses. If he was to win the judicial seat, a temporary council replacement would be appointed until a special election could be held.

Welch switched his political affiliation from Democrat to Republican after the 2012 council election. He said he’s been a Democrat since he registered to vote, but realized after the last election that he identifies more with the Republican party on national issues.

But he said generally speaking, he tends to be more independent, and on the bench would be nonpartisan.

“I’ve been a reserve police officer, owned my own law firm, worked as a private attorney and a prosecutor,” he said. “I’ve seen just about every kind of case you’ve got, and I think it’s time for me to run for state district judge.”

Erwin, a Democrat, said he should be re-elected because he’s the “most experienced and most qualified” person for the job.

“As a prosecutor and now as a judge, I’ve gained the necessary knowledge that I believe our parish needs on the bench,” he said in a statement. “I’ve prosecuted or presided over more criminal cases than any other judge in the past 30 years and it is this experience that I believe is a key to making our streets safer from criminals and crime.”

Before taking the bench in 1991, Erwin, 64, served as an assistant district attorney and an assistant city prosecutor for the Baton Rouge City Court.

The judicial subdistrict the two candidates are vying for includes the cities of Baker, Zachary and Central and some areas in Baton Rouge including Sherwood Forest and Broadmoor.

The election is Nov. 4.