Assistant Chief Deputy Attorney Thien Ho has a strong lead over prosecutor Alana Mathews in Sacramento County’s race for District Attorney.
Ho ran on a campaign that highlighted the importance of public safety and carrying on the work of his current boss, District Attorney Anne Marie Schubert. Mathews ran on a progressive, reformist platform.
Ho will be the first Asian American to hold this office in Sacramento County history.
“People want to feel safe and be safe — safe where they raise their families, safe where they work, safe where they take their kids to the park,” Ho said. “And they want to have equal justice, I think it’s important to bridge that gap and make sure we build trust with all communities.”
Ho has worked in the District Attorney’s office since 2004 and under Schubert since she took office. He said once he takes office, he wants to address homelessness with more holistic solutions, rather than prosecution and simply putting people in jail.
“In regards to the homeless crisis, we really need to tackle that with mental health and drug addiction support, in addition to the transitional housing aspect of it,” Ho said. “I want to call together a homeless summit, bringing the county, city, everybody together at the same room at the same table to have these discussions so we have a cohesive plan, short term, mid term and long term.”
Ho also mentioned he hopes to use his experience and knowledge of being from an immigrant and refugee community to build trust with more marginalized neighborhoods in Sacramento.
“Educating the immigrant community about our criminal justice system and the rights they have and things they can do as victims of crime, I think that’s important. That’s something I really want to work on is the education and outreach aspect,” he said.
Ho said he plans to assemble an advisory board with representatives from different communities of color to allow them to have easier access to his office.
Mathews said she’s proud of the campaign she ran and the conversations she had with many communities of color in Sacramento during her bid for district attorney.
“What’s next in terms of the county I think is accountability, I certainly will be a voice and a community member who wants to see change and the things that were promised in regards to mental health, homelessness and substance abuse, wanting to make sure that actually comes to pass,” Mathews said. “We cannot afford to go back to business as usual.”
Experts say Ho’s likely victory shows how confident voters are in the way the district attorney’s office has been operating under Schubert’s leadership.
“He’s someone who has been in the office for a long time already, so he’s definitely established already in the district attorney’s office in Sacramento county, so in that respect, we may not see drastic changes to the practices and policies of the office,” Mary-Beth Moylan, an associate dean at the McGeorge School of Law said. “So the voters have given a vote of confidence to the office as it exists.”
She added that Mathews, on the other hand, had cast herself as someone who was going to go in and change policies. Mathews had previously worked in the Sacramento District Attorney’s office, but in Moylan’s opinion, Mathews’ campaign leaned heavily on her position as a reformer from the outside.
Moylan also said this is a position people hold for more than a typical election cycle — Anne Marie Schubert has held the office for eight years, and Jan Scully held the office for nearly two decades.
Editor's note: A previous version of this story stated that Thien Ho’s campaign reported that Mathews called to concede late on Tuesday night. Mathews says she has not conceded.
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