By Lance Armstrong and Matthew Malone
March, 23, 2022
Candidate endorsed by Galt City Council members
Veteran prosecutor and Sacramento County district attorney (DA) candidate Thien Ho recently spoke about the need to address homelessness and his experience in the justice system.
Also running for that seat is former Sacramento County Deputy District Attorney Alana Mathews.
Sacramento County’s current district attorney, Anne Marie Schubert, is running for state attorney general.
Ho, who currently serves as the county’s assistant chief deputy district attorney, was the lead prosecutor on the East Area Rapist/Golden State Killer case, which resulted in the 2020 sentencing of Joseph DeAngelo to 11 consecutive life terms without the possibility of parole for 13 murders, and an additional life term for 13 kidnappings.
Ho’s experience also includes oversight of the Justice and Community Relations Bureau, and supervision of the Gangs and Hate Crime and Major Narcotic units.
Ho was also named prosecutor of the year by the Sacramento County District Attorney’s Office in 2017, and spent the past 16 years serving as an adjunct professor, teaching trial advocacy at McGeorge School of Law in Sacramento.
Homelessness is “the No. 1 issue” Ho said he has heard about when talking to county residents. He named three elements that he believes need addressing to reduce homelessness: affordable housing, mental health and drug addiction.
“How do we help those who are suffering from mental health and drug addiction and living in the streets? I believe that it is a humanitarian crisis, and it is irresponsible to allow somebody to die in the gutter and to live that way,” Ho told the Herald.
He cited a DA’s office program that offers drug and mental health treatment to people facing misdemeanor charges; if they complete the treatment, they can avoid jail time.
Ho also said he aims to bring together other governmental bodies to create a “comprehensive plan to deal with the homeless crisis” that includes transitional housing.
All five Galt City Council members have endorsed Ho. He spoke about what their support means.
“I believe that they gave me the endorsement because I reflect the values of the community of Galt and what is going to be important in the district attorney’s race. One of the things that’s important is really public safety. The district attorney’s primary role is to ensure public safety but in a way that is fair and equitable to all communities and all people,” Ho said.
“And it’s reflective of the fact that I have the experience to do this job not only in the courtroom (but) in the executive room, the classroom, the community and the Capitol, as well.”
Ho has said his experience as a Vietnam refugee plays a role in his run for the DA seat. He fled to the United States with his family in 1976.
Ho said his uncle, who had worked for the South Vietnamese government, was sent to a reeducation camp by communist forces when Saigon fell. The events spurred Ho’s parents’ decision to leave.
Ho, who grew up in San Jose, became the first member of his family to attend law school. He graduated from University of California, Davis, with a bachelor’s degree in political science in 1995, and from McGeorge School of Law, with his juris doctorate in 1998.
After beginning his career as a prosecutor in the Bay Area in 1998, Ho came to Sacramento, where he continued his work in that role. He worked his way from misdemeanor, child sexual assault and gang cases to hate crime, major narcotic and serial killer cases.
Beyond the courtroom, Ho mentors youth through such programs as Contract for Success, the Sacramento County DA’s Youth Academy and Youth Shadow Day.
Ho said he understands the refugee and immigrant experiences as a result of his family’s flight from Vietnam. He connected this knowledge with last year’s chaotic evacuation of Afghanistan and with the refugee crisis developing as Russia invades Ukraine.
“And now you have in the Ukraine, family members that are left behind, trying to fight for their homeland. … It’s heartbreaking,” Ho said.
“And what it reminds me is this: We have the best democracy and system of justice in the world. Can we make it better, and should we make it better? Absolutely. But we shouldn’t tear it down and destroy that system at all because there are so many places in the world that don’t have the freedoms and the opportunities that we do in this country.”