by Marion Marks
Observing the Caddo District Attorney race in 2015 is comparable to watching the play Waiting for Godot. I hate to break it to the unread, but Godot never shows up! And this is about how I feel about the runoff election. The end just can’t come quickly enough for the average citizen.
It’s similar to watching the Republican presidential primary this fall, but I have a hard time differentiating between the Saturday Night Live Donald Trump skits, the nightly news and the PAC commercials for Judge Stewart. I almost feel sorry for Dhu Thompson, because being a very real and effective member of the Caddo DA office, he is branded a failure without even looking at his record. It almost is irreverent for his platform or capabilities to turn the office around, because he is cast in the same light as deceased DA Charles Scott and Dale Cox without ever speaking a word.
Thompson has become a caricature of Cox by default, and worse, he can’t even defend himself because Stewart refuses to attend or participate in so many scheduled forums or debates where real questions would be answered. The more we try to ask, the less time and more frustrating for educated voters who truly have a will to help fix the system and a desire to make Caddo work.
I have a hard time determining where the truth begins and the political rhetoric starts because so many highly valued citizens have a vested interest in one candidate over another. Truths are hard to decipher. We are less than nine days from final voting, and PAC money continues to flood the media messages. Stewart appears to be just a standard-issue political exaggerator based on PAC messaging, because he doesn’t really say ANYTHING on camera – It’s ALL FEEL GOOD because things will change! The changes some expect Stewart to bring seems to require that the whole district attorney’s office will be cleared of “racists and bigots.” No one I know thinks the office is that bad.
If some national campaign messages are seen as Donald Trump theater, the local campaign for DA seems more like a theater of the absurd if we must differentiate the candidate experiences when they were in the Caddo DA’s office. Stewart served as a leader for Caddo DA Paul Carmouche prior to his career move to the bench. No doubt his experience as a judge gives him insight into necessary changes, but he certainly cannot flip the department as quickly as some would hope. And Dhu Thompson has articulated many changes that he would make – quite similar to those Stewart claims are necessary.
Too many people depend on the stability of the district attorney’s office for business and criminal justice continuity and the majority of cases in Caddo Parish will not be affected whichever candidate wins. The fact is that voters will determine what kind of person we really want the DA to be based more on reputation and family rather than actual experiences, philosophy and a plan that has been well detailed.
Voters will choose a mission statement or pick a winning public relations message to rewrite our self-image or what we wish Caddo Parish to be in the next ten years based changes in the DA’s office. The broad brush has painted less than a complete picture voters should expect this close to voting.
If I have the opportunity to write what I want reflected from that office, it would be “kind,” “just,” and “compassionate,” and that the leader will be motivated to guide positive actions and help solve immediate and long-term needs for all citizens. Either candidate is capable of creating this environment, it’s just sad that Stewart feels he needs to cut off the discussion without fully articulating more in open discussion. The campaign has been far too long in rhetoric and too short in exposing the fullness citizens deserve. Thompson has been left with questions asked and debates without opposition because Stewart’s supporters feel they have a winning hand and only a downside if he becomes too exposed.
Simply put, Caddo citizens have been short changed when powerful people cut off the open interchange of ideas before Election Day. It may be true that we won’t hear any more of a substantive nature between the candidates. Citizens will vote lacking full and open discussion. But please vote, whichever candidate you support, and you will have to dig to get anything new. But, Donald Trump is not on this ballot and you shouldn’t expect much more in the form of rewarding entertainment.