RIO GRANDE CITY — It was two years in the making but after a hard-fought campaign, Gocha Ramirez stood on the steps of the Starr County courthouse on Friday to take the oath of office as the new 229th judicial district attorney.

Ramirez has now officially taken over the 229th judicial district attorney’s office which prosecutes cases in Starr, Duval, and Jim Hogg Counties.

He is replacing former District Attorney Omar Escobar Jr. whom Ramirez defeated in the March Democratic Primary elections.

“I want to recognize the service over the last (eight) years of Mr. Escobar and his staff and the service they provided to the 229th judicial district,” Ramirez said. “I want to thank them for their service and I want to promise you that today begins a new era in the district attorney’s office for the 229th judicial district.”

“Today begins an era of transparency, accountability, and justice,” Ramirez continued. “That is my pledge to you, that was my pledge to you two years ago, it was my pledge to you a year ago and it’s my pledge to you now.”

After Ramirez took the oath of office, which was administered by Starr County Precinct 2 Justice of the Peace Ramiro Guillen, other members of his staff were also sworn in.

His staff included four assistant district attorneys — Abel Villarreal Jr. as the first assistant district attorney, Hilda Gonzalez Garza, Alexandria Barrera, and Judith Solis — and four criminal investigators for the DAs office — Trinidad Lopez, Manuel Marroquin, Arturo Ibarra Jr. and Natividad Gonzalez.

Work for them will begin as early as Saturday, Ramirez said, in preparation for court Monday morning.

“We have a docket in Duval County on Monday so I’ll be traveling to Duval County tomorrow to start reviewing the files that are set for docket,” Ramirez said. “We have court Monday, Tuesday, and Wednesday so we have to hit the ground running and I expect to do that; we’ve put together what I believe to be a wonderful staff.”

Some on his staff are individuals he said he brought on board from his campaign because of their capabilities as lawyers and as friends.

“We look for nothing but good things in the future and we’re going to protect the community and we’re going to do our job,” Ramirez said, “and as I said earlier, we’re going to be transparent and make sure that everybody understands that justice is being done in Starr, Duval and Jim Hogg Counties.”

Also part of his office will be investigators with the High Intensity Drug Trafficking Areas task force who Ramirez said would be sworn in Friday afternoon in a private ceremony.

As part of the public ceremony, Starr County constables were also administered the oath of office including Reynaldo Rodriguez Jr. for Precinct 2, Ivan Garza (Precinct 7), Cornelio Alvarez Jr. (Precinct 1), Jose Angel Garza (Precinct 6) and Fermin Orta (Precinct 8).

“I’m extremely flattered,” Ramirez said of the turnout to the event which was held as a drive-thru ceremony to practice social distancing. “I think that the community’s ready for a change.”