After an embattled Walter Reed took himself out of the running for another term as district attorney for St. Tammany and Washington parishes, his would-be successors scrambled to deal with a political landscape suddenly devoid of a well-financed five-term incumbent.
Brian Trainor, chief deputy for the St. Tammany Parish Sheriff’s Office and a former assistant district attorney under Reed, announced his candidacy Monday, fueling speculation about Reed’s plans one day before Reed announced he wouldn’t run again.
Trainor’s boss, Sheriff Jack Strain, issued a political endorsement for Trainor in a written statement about Reed’s decision, saying Trainor’s work at the DA’s Office had impressed Strain enough to lead him to recruit Trainor. “He will make an outstanding district attorney,’’ Strain said.
Reed’s public position is that he is staying neutral in the race to succeed him and wants his large staff to do the same. But in a closed-door meeting with the staff, he described two of the three candidates in the race — Trainor and Slidell lawyer Alan Black — as friends, a source told The New Orleans Advocate.
Trainor worked under Reed for eight years. Black has not worked for Reed, but he has frequently served as emcee at Reed’s fundraising events.
That leaves the third announced candidate, Covington lawyer Roy Burns, who was quick to claim the mantle of political outsider. He appeared on the steps of the parish courthouse shortly after Reed’s meeting broke up, claiming that Reed had given the nod to Trainor and Black by describing them as friends but that he had been singled out as “not a friend,’’ a status he clearly relishes.
Burns, who was the first to jump into the race as the media glare on Reed intensified, also released his first radio ads this week, one stressing his qualifications and the other clamoring for change: “No special deals for friends and family. No outside jobs or private practice on the side. No playing favorites. No more secrets.’’
Trainor and Black have been more circumspect in their statements about Reed’s decision, with Black simply saying that it provides voters time to “decide who will lead this important position and maintain the quality of life our citizens expect.’’
But Trainor’s announcement of his candidacy took what could be perceived as a few veiled shots at Reed. “As your DA, I will lead by example and hold the office to the highest ethical standards,” he said.
Reed is under investigation by a federal grand jury, which has subpoenaed records from the venue of one of his campaign fundraisers and at least one of his assistant district attorneys.
Trainor also stressed his work ethic — another apparent slap at Reed, who was criticized for frequently being absent from the office. “My promise to the public is that I will be at work and accessible to the public every day of the week with the goal of ensuring fairness and justice for all,” Trainor said.
Concerned Citizens of St. Tammany, an activist group that has been critical of Reed, invited the three candidates to a forum at the John Davis Center in Lacombe on Aug. 26 — several days after qualifying for the Nov. 4 primary ends.
Brister announces administration shuffle
St. Tammany Parish President Pat Brister picked Friday afternoon to announce a shake-up of her administration.
Former Chief Operating Officer Gina Campo was named chief administrative officer, a position that had been vacant since June 2013, when Bill Oiler retired. Fomer Director of Intergovernmental Relations Trilby Lenfant was named deputy CAO.
Ronnie Simpson, Brister’s director of public information, will assume many of Lenfant’s duties, a news release said.
Campo’s new title will have to be confirmed by the Parish Council at its Aug. 7 meeting.
“Within our staff we have people who are immensely qualified and incredibly capable of stepping up to the plate when asked to do so,” Brister said in the release.
Another high-ranking official, Chief Financial Officer Beverly Gariepy, has resigned to pursue other interests. Gariepy’s duties will be split between Lenfant and the director of finance, Simpson said.
Compiled by staff writers Sara Pagones and Faimon A. Roberts III.