The following individuals or groups have endorsed Matt's re-election campaign:
43 Tompkins County Attorneys
Ithaca City Council Members
Retired Ithaca Police Chief Pete Tyler
Tompkins County Legislators
Amanda Champion, Legislator
Richard John, Legislator
(LETTERS ARE POSTED BELOW)
43 Tompkins County Attorneys
As attorneys who live and practice in Tompkins County, we write to publicly lend our enthusiastic support to Matt Van Houten’s re-election campaign as the Tompkins County District Attorney.
Matt is a lifelong resident of the Tompkins County area, has been a practicing attorney here for 24 years and District Attorney for the past 4 years. He graduated from Dryden High School in 1985, West Point in 1989 and Albany Law School in 1995. He is an honorably discharged veteran of the U.S. Army. Matt is married to Monica, an audiologist at the Racker Centers, and between them they have three children, 22, 24 and 25.
The District Attorney is a critical part of our local criminal justice system. During his first term Matt has shown that he deeply cares about our community by utilizing alternatives to incarceration where appropriate, while not compromising public safety. He has extensive trial experience, trying criminal jury trials since 1996. We believe that Matt has all of the characteristics to continue to be an excellent District Attorney. He listens carefully and thoughtfully. He is known for being fair, respectful and caring. He has earned our support for his demonstration of humility, integrity, pragmatism, creativity and sound judgment in the course of his duties as District Attorney.
We the undersigned attorneys enthusiastically support the candidacy of Matt Van Houten for another term as the Tompkins County District Attorney. We urge all Tompkins County Democrats to vote for him in the June 23, 2020 Democratic primary to secure the Democratic Party nomination for Tompkins County District Attorney.
Adam Schaye Michael C. Perehinec Madeline Weiss
R. James Miller Lucy Gold Pamela Bleiwas
Raymond Schlather Anthony Elia Xiaye (Summer) Yin
Rosanne Mayer Stephen Yale-Loehr Kristal Ozman
Hayden Brainard Hilary Fraser John Moss Hinchcliff
Nicolai Hinrichsen Albert Fang Chuck Guttman
Michael May Jonathan Albanese Anna Holmberg
Don Crittenden Kim Rothman Jeffrey Walker
Elizabeth Aldridge Kelly Damm Nicole S. Pence
Jacob R. McNamara Carrie J. Pollack Julia Kretzmann
Christina DuBouchet Adam Klausner Elena Flash
Steve Flash Emerson Mitchell Laurie Johnston
Michael Lane Frank Smithson William Friedlander
Holly Mosher Peter Walsh Patrick Cummings
Ithaca City Council Members
We, the undersigned Democrats on the Common Council of the City of Ithaca, urge Tompkins County voters to re-elect Matt Van Houten as Tompkins County District Attorney.
Matt Van Houten graduated from Dryden High and from the United States Military Academy in West Point. After leading a platoon in the USA Army and participating in the Army World Class Athlete Program, he earned his JD from Albany Law School of Union University in 1995. He then began practicing law in Tompkins County, gaining substantial trial experience in a range of cases. He has served as Tompkins County DA since January 2017, supervising a staff of 16, overseeing a $2M budget, and managing a full felony caseload as well as several local town courts.
Matt has consistently advocated for alternatives to incarceration that both protect public safety and respect the dignity of worth of people accused of crimes. He added staff to his office so that his team could give necessary attention to the Ithaca City Treatment Court. In 2018 our Common Council voted to subsidize the launch of the Wellness and Recovery Court, an alternative to incarceration designed to coordinate treatment and support for people who are arrested who suffer from mental illness. Matt played a key role in developing the Court and his office continues to be active in its operations. He is a vital member of the Tompkins County Criminal Justice Alternative to Incarceration Board of Directors and communicates readily and easily with the group.
In addition to these achievements, Matt is also a talented athlete; he has twice won bronze medals in the Pan American Games in team handball and as recently as 2016 was a national champion in the sport. This speaks to his keen personal discipline as well as his perception of himself as a member of a team.
What many of us appreciate most about Matt is his gentle nature, and his quiet and persistent confidence. He is always available to answer our questions or explain controversial or difficult decisions. He is modest and compassionate and fully committed to making Tompkins County both safer and more humane.
To learn more about Matt Van Houten go to his website at https://www.mvh4da.com/ . Please vote for Matt in the Democratic primary on 23 June.
Pete Tyler, Retired Chief of Ithaca Police Department
Public Safety, Communication, and Respect were the tenets of my working relationship with District Attorney, Matt Van Houten. He is a true public servant, and by far, the best choice for candidate, to continue the hard work of serving as your District Attorney for Tompkins County.
During my administration as City of Ithaca Police Chief, I saw firsthand Matt’s focus on relationship building. He was an instrumental part of a team that worked for increased interagency cooperation and communication, partnering with the DA’s Office, State Police, Tompkins County Sheriff’s Office and The IPD, as well as both of our College Police Departments. As a result, we were all able to more efficiently function and streamline procedures. D.A. Van Houten played a big role in those efforts.
With regards to our approach to the criminal justice system, Matt and I shared the same mindset of progressiveness and safety. When Chief Barber retired, he asked me to and I agreed to continue our department’s efforts with the creation of the Law Enforcement Assisted Diversion Program, diverting those who struggle with drug issues. Matt and our team attended multiple policy meetings and I quickly came to realize Matt’s ability to effectively work with both the community and law enforcement towards that goal. His office, working through many challenges, is continuing that effort, and committed to see that vision come to fruition.
Drug Court, as many know it, is another way that Matt’s talented team showed progressive initiative while never taking his eyes off of public safety. I feel confident that if he is involved, many other programs that are geared towards a balance of public safety and common sense, will be successful and ultimately help many in our community.
In a perfect world, communication should always flows both ways, however in my professional experience this has not always been the case. From day one however. D.A Van Houten displayed that rare exception. If I called, he picked up, no matter what time of day or night, and I gladly did the same for him. This was critical in the success of many serious incidents that required a collective team approach. Matt always respectfully listened to my or our teams input, and I listened to his with an open mind. We didn't always agree, but we engaged in respectful, productive dialogue. That’s exactly the professionalism and humble character we need in a District Attorney and in my experience, Matt certainly has demonstrated it throughout his tenure.
Matt is always good to work with, has the professional experience needed for the position and I know how deeply he cares about our community. Most importantly, he is fair and will take the time to listen to everyone, regardless of the situation. He will certainly have my vote this November and has my deepest respect and confidence for the remarkable job he has done, and know he will continue to do in the uniquely challenging position as the District Attorney of our county.
Ithaca City Police Chief (retired)
Tompkins County Legislators
May 11, 2020
To the Editor:
We, the undersigned Democrats on the Tompkins County Legislature, urge voters to re-elect Matt Van Houten as Tompkins County District Attorney. The Democratic primary is June 23, and your vote is essential. Please visit https://www.mvh4da.com/ for Matt’s bio and statements on the issues.
We have worked with Matt for the past four years, and have direct experience with how he runs his office, manages his budget, and most important of all, pursues justice for all residents of our community.
A lifelong Democrat, graduate of Dryden High School, and Army Veteran, Matt Van Houten exemplifies the qualities we think are essential in a district attorney:
Deep commitment to justice. Matt has been a leader in transforming our local criminal justice system, for example implementing bail reform here a year before NYS took the step. Matt’s office is fully engaged in our felony and misdemeanor treatment courts, and he has advocated for implementation of the Law Enforcement Assisted Diversion (LEAD) program.
Pursuit of “progressive prosecution.” Matt knows that putting someone in jail because of a drug problem doesn’t solve the problem, that people need meaningful support to turn their lives around. Matt has demonstrated a willingness to seek out and try the best evidence-based innovations.
Intelligence. Matt is thoughtful, takes time to consider all the angles, and never stops analyzing. For example, knowing the gap we had in helping individuals facing mental health challenges, he helped establish the Ithaca City Wellness and Recovery Court.
Humility and willingness to collaborate. Never one to toot his own horn, Matt is a team member who listens and learns from others, with deep respect. He has worked with police agencies, the courts, Probation, defense attorneys, local government, and the community to radically reduce the number of people being held in jail while awaiting trial.
Integrity and honesty. No spin, is what you’ll get from Matt. He’ll always base his opinions on the facts and the law. You can trust that Matt will give you his honest evaluation, even if it’s not the most popular or easy message to hear.
As a county we’ve made great strides in transforming our local criminal justice system; none of it would have been possible without Matt as DA. The number of inmates in our jail has not been this low in decades, without a rise in our crime rate. Please help return our District Attorney to the office for another four years, so we can continue this success.
Signed - Tompkins County Legislators:
Martha Robertson, District 13, Town of Dryden
Amanda Champion, District 12, Town of Ithaca
Deborah Dawson, District 10, Villages of Lansing and Cayuga Heights
Rich John, District 4, City of Ithaca
Dan Klein, District 7, Towns of Danby, Caroline, and Ithaca
Mike Lane, District 14, Town of Dryden
Tompkins County Legislator Amanda Champion
I wholeheartedly support the re-election of Matt Van Houten for Tompkins County District Attorney. For the past two years, I have
worked with Matt in my role on the County Legislature and I have constantly seen his professionalism, thoughtfulness, and strong
work ethic. Most importantly, Matt is a leader who cares about the people of our community. I urge the residents of Tompkins County
to join me in voting for Matt this fall.
Tompkins County Legislator Richard John
I am writing in support of Matt Van Houten for District Attorney. For the past two years, I have served as the Chair of the Tompkins County Legislature Public Safety Committee. In that role, I have worked with Matt on policy issues affecting the County and have been able to observe how he runs his office.
Our District Attorney has been a key player in bringing about a transformative change in our local criminal justice system. Tompkins County has accomplished a radical reduction in the number of people accused of crime being held in the Jail while awaiting trial. We accomplished responsible bail reform in our County well before New York passed its statewide legislation last year, and without the turmoil we are seeing elsewhere in the State. We did it by giving judges broad supervision options beyond just jail, and because our D.A. set a policy presumption of no bail for most cases. Certainly, some people need to be held in jail, but this should be a last resort. Following this path, we have seen our Jail numbers fall without seeing a rise in our crime rate.
While these changes to our system have been a team effort, they would not have worked here without a District Attorney playing a critical leadership role. Matt has worked with police agencies, the courts, Probation, defense attorneys, and local government to make change happen. Being tough on crime often means bringing the person to recognize what they are doing wrong in their life, take responsibility, and act to make change. As a community, this approach is in our long-term interest as the best way to have people break free of the cycle of crime. Tompkins has seen a real reduction in the people committing new crimes. This saves us money and increases long term public safety. Matt has embraced this philosophy and demonstrated a willingness to consider new ideas and innovate in his Department.
As a citizen of Tompkins County, you should have some pride in what we have been able to accomplish. As voters, I hope that you will give Matt a chance to continue his work.