Sacramento County District Attorney’s race centers around crime, gun violence

In a Sacramento 2022 midterm election, former Deputy District Attorney Alana Mathews and current Deputy District Attorney Thien Ho are facing off.

SACRAMENTO, Calif. — Two candidates are running for Sacramento County District Attorney this year —Thien Ho and Alana Mathews. Both candidates have several years of experience and a long list of endorsements.

Who is Thien Ho

Credit: Wong Public Affairs

Prosecutor Thien Ho has announced his intent to run for Sacramento County District Attorney.

Ho was born in Vietnam but when he was almost five years old.

“We escaped Vietnam on a fishing boat. We were in a refugee camp for six years, came to the United States, not only standing a word of English. I learned how to speak English by watching Bugs Bunny cartoons and going to ESL class. 22 years later, I graduated from law school,” Ho said.

Now, he’s been a prosecutor for 20 years and currently serves as the Assistant Chief Deputy District Attorney for Sacramento County. He’s prosecuted sexual assault, gang, and homicide cases but is best known for being the lead prosecutor on the Golden State Killer case. 

Ho said he’s running for district attorney because he wants to give back to the country that gave him and his family everything they hoped for.

Who is Alana Mathews

Credit: ABC10

Mathews is from Gary, Indiana, which she describes as one of the murder capitals of the country. She shared one of the many experiences growing up as a teenager that shaped her passion for law.

“One day, we were all visited my pastor’s house hanging out there and a truck drove down the street slammed on his brakes, backed up, and opened fire on us. Just a random drive-by shooting and it was one of the most terrifying experiences of my life. You know, just not knowing if your next breath is going to be your last,” Mathews said.

She was the first in her family to go to college and began her legal career began when she became Deputy District Attorney in Sacramento County, a position she held for eight years. She has now lived in Sacramento County for 25 years and works for the Prosecutors Alliance of California. 

Mathews is the founder of the Community Justice Collaborative and a mother. She believes the system has failed many people and shares that she wants to create a system that works for everybody.

Stopping crime in our community

Sacramento has been devastated by gun violence. Most recently from a mass shooting in downtown Sacramento. Here’s what both candidates said they would do differently when it comes to stopping crime in our community.

Matthews:

We need to have prevention and intervention programs going into the schools right now, our students in elementary school have no mental health resources.

I’m also a law professor, so I do a lot of research, I study a lot of data. I look at data-driven solutions. The data lets us know that if you are a victim of crime, you know, you may be more vulnerable to actually committing crime in the future.

So, when we talk about intervention, we’re looking at what are those drivers of violence, what are those drivers of crime, and we need to address the root causes. Because as I said earlier, the only tool we have is to react to crime, prosecuted in the courtroom, but we cannot incarcerate our way to safety. It’s not sustainable to lock everybody up.

Ho:

One of the things that I think we do a really good job of is prosecuting and holding those who commit violent offenses accountable.

Having prosecuted nearly 100 jury trials having supervised our gang team and having been a homicide prosecutor for almost four years in prosecuting the East Area Rapist, the Golden State killer, I think our office, and I along with that office, we do a great job of holding people accountable for violent crimes. But I think what we can also do as well is work with our community-based organizations-that intervention and prevention of crimes.

Rather than reacting to crime, be proactive and really work with our younger, you know, juveniles to make sure that they are diverted, and they move away from gangs from a life of crime.

Prosecuting police

ABC10 asked both candidates how they plan to address holding police accountable.

Ho:

Whether you’re a police officer, or you’re on probation, whether you’re wearing blue jeans or blue uniform, the law applies equally to everybody.

If you violate the law, no matter who you are, you are going to be held accountable by the law to the fullest extent of the law. And in regards to prosecuting police officers, prosecutors, good police officers, and our everyday citizens want to make sure that we don’t have bad officers or bad actors in the process.

So we’re just going to follow the facts and the law wherever it takes us and hold the people that violate the law accountable.

Mathews:

I think anyone who breaks the law ought to be held accountable. It doesn’t matter how much money you make, the position you hold, or the uniform you wear.

I think prosecutorial independence is absolutely essential to building trust and confidence in the work of our justice system. And so I’ve not accepted donations, money from police unions, and I’ve done that I say this all the time, I think that’s the most pro-police thing that I can do. Because when I make a decision that you support was justified, then the community can have confidence. So that’s based on the merits and the law.

Unfortunately, in Sacramento, we haven’t seen a level of accountability for police officers.

Other News