Our Views: Good luck to new D.A. _lowres

Advocate staff photo by SCOTT THRELKELD -- Sen. Bill Cassidy, R-La., right, greets new 22nd Judicial District Attorney Warren Montgomery during Montgomery's swearing-in ceremony Monday, Jan. 12, 2015, at the St. Tammany Justice Center in Covington.

Winds of change, indeed. The phrase was used by St. Tammany Parish Councilman Reid Falconer, but we bet it has occurred to many others in the north shore as a new district attorney begins his term.

Warren Montgomery’s ascension to the office held for 30 years by Walter Reed is, we hope, a sign of the change in the power structure of St. Tammany.

“Unfortunately, we have to run for public office to see justice done, but you don’t want politics in the justice system,” said Montgomery, who previously ran an unsuccessful campaign for judge. “The voters really spoke in this election that they wanted a justice system focused on justice and not on politics,” he said.

We applaud that sentiment and wish the newcomer well. It bodes well that new U.S. Sen. Bill Cassidy, R-La., attended as a mark of respect for his longtime friend. “He is a man who understands that all of us must have a standing before the law that is not built upon a personal relationship but is built upon the woman of justice wearing a blindfold,” Cassidy said.

That’s a pretty explicit reference to the politics of Reed, who built a north shore political machine that exercised influence throughout other parish offices. We are encouraged that the officials continuing in office, Sheriff Jack Strain and others, understand that the voters expect cooperation in administering justice — but also in leaching political maneuvering out of the system in parish government.

A local district attorney’s principal responsibility is in prosecuting dangerous criminals, but he is also the guardian of the public interest who can and should investigate malfeasance by local officials. It’s a tough role if you want to be popular politically, at least with the insiders who profited handsomely from Reed connections all these years.