Thien Ho, a Vietnamese immigrant, was sworn into office as Sacramento County’s 36th district attorney on Tuesday, making him the first person of color to occupy the position.
Ho was sworn in at the Tsakopoulos Galleria by Sacramento Superior Court Judge Carlton David.
Ho told The Sacramento Bee that he was aware of the history being made that day:
You know, there used to be a wall at the D.A.’s office that had the pictures of the 35 previously elected D.A.s. And I would stand there and I would look at them. And each and every one of them — they were good prosecutors, good lawyers, and some became great judges — but none of them looked like me, and so this is a very historical day that I am cognizant of.
Previously, Ho, who has worked in the DA’s office since 2004, handled the prosecution of Joseph James DeAngelo, also known as the Golden State Killer and East Area Rapist, which was one of California’s biggest murder cases.
Ho won the race for Sacramento County district attorney with 57 percent of the vote against former county prosecutor Alana Mathews’ 43 percent in July.
At the ceremony, Ho vocalized his awareness of communities that distrust the district attorney’s office and law enforcement.
He promises to “build that bridge and reach out to them. And not only build that bridge, but be that bridge.”
“Out of 2,400 elected D.A.s in the country, I’ll be the fifth Asian American. But more than that, what is important is making sure that we represent all communities.”
Jim Cooper, the county’s first Black sheriff who was sworn in last month, was present at the ceremony, along with many other law enforcement officials, family members and supporters.
Ho plans to form an advisory council of representatives from different communities, perspectives and interests. These representatives would come from smaller committees for Asian, Latino, African American, LGBT and business communities, Ho said during an interview with CapRadio.
“I’m an immigrant, a refugee,” Ho voiced. “I know what it’s like to be poor and to have nothing.”
“When you have the symbol of Lady Justice, on the one hand she has a sword, which represents accountability,” Ho said on Tuesday. “But in the other hand is a scale that represents fairness, equality and balance.
“And that’s what we need in our criminal justice system.”