DE SOTO PARISH, La. (KTAL/KMSS) — Retired 42nd Judicial District Judge Charles Adams is challenging incumbent District Attorney Gary Evans for the job in November, running on a promise to return integrity to the office.

“I have witnessed the need for the District Attorney’s office to have integrity, integrity is what is missing,” said Adams, who simultaneously announced his candidacy at the same time he announced his retirement in June after serving four terms on the bench.

“As a District Judge for 23 years and seven years as an Assistant District Attorney prior to that, I have witnessed first hand the dysfunction of the systems,” Adams said. “What I would like to see is the rule of law being maintained equally, fairly, and compassionately.”

Adams, a Republican, says he also learned to see people for who they are instead of what they’ve done.

“Things are not always as they appear. Cases would come to me as a judge and I would have a preconceived idea about what was going on or just by the printed word. Then when you meet the people, when you see the person, those people that are involved, and you give them an opportunity to be heard, it’s really simple. It’s straightforward. It’s what our whole system is designed to provide.”

For his part, the Democrat incumbent to the office says his six years of experience as DA on top of six years as 1st Assistant District Attorney makes him more than qualified to keep the job.

“I’m here to serve. I am a very reluctant district attorney. You have to be very humble and be very aware of what you are doing because somebody’s life literally is in your hands; and there is no joy in this job if you’re doing it right,” said Evans.

“Because of criminal justice, I think, enlightenment has come about to where we realize that we have to try, not to just throw people in jail and throw away the key, but try to reform them.”

Evans says that over the years, he has always valued public opinion but the decisions he makes aren’t easy and sometimes aren’t always liked.

“One of the toughest jobs is incarcerating periods for life, even on occasion death. I can recall one of the first cases I had. There were three young men who murdered somebody. They ended up getting 50 years, 30 years, and 30 years. You know, that’s a heavy burden, somebody had to do the job and I do it.”

Both candidates say that their campaigns are based on values and beliefs they share with the community.

“The shared values of peace, dignity, and respect. Respect for each other and the respect for rule of law,” Adams said.

“People want justice and we understand that,” said Evans. “We are a parish that has 40 percent minority. You have to be very aware of the kind of people you represent.”

In addition to the 180 years of combined experience he says he shares with his team, Evans points to his accomplishments in his first term as DA as more evidence that he should be elected to a second term.

“Well, I’ll tell you I’ll continue with the work I’ve already done. Since I’ve been District Attorney, we’ve prosecuted over 3,000 cases and got that many convictions. I’ve only lost one jury trial out of 29.”