Bingham clinches race, stays top lawyer

Published on Wednesday, 5 March 2014 00:38 - Written by EMILY GUEVARA eguevara@tylerpaper.com

Smith County District Attorney Matt Bingham got his wish: one more term in office, based on final election results Tuesday.

Bingham, 47, received 15,208 votes, or 74.3 percent. His opponent Austin Reeve Jackson, 34, received 5,268 votes, or 25.7 percent.

Bingham said he is thankful to the people who supported him and humbled by their support.

“I’m so thankful to them for allowing me to do what I do,” Bingham said. “I’ve had victims come up to me and say, ‘Thank you for what you did for us.’ I’m the one that’s blessed to do this.”

Going into his next four-year term — which he has said will be his last — Bingham said he will continue to do what he has done for the past 18 years with the county: Put himself in the victim’s place and handle their case how he would want his own handled.

He praised his staff for their hard work and said he will continue to work for his ultimate goals of achieving justice for victims and maintaining a good working relationship with law enforcement.

“We’re (going to) keep doing what we’ve been doing,” he said.

Jackson said although the results were not what he had hoped for, “it has still been a fantastic experience to have been able to meet with and been a voice for so many members of the community.”

Jackson said he will continue to look for ways to give back to the community as he has for many years. “I’m very thankful for those people who did vote for us and I’m thankful to be in a community like Smith County where (the) community welcomes debate and discussion and new ideas from challengers,” he said.

He previously said he ran for the position out of a sense of responsibility to address the problems he saw in the office.

He cited ballooning budgets, a lack of productivity and incompetence among the problems.

“We’ve sort of run the gamut of issues in our district attorney’s office and it’s time we had somebody with the right education, experience and background step up to address those problems,” Jackson said during a previous interview.

The Lindale resident cited his board certification in criminal trial law and criminal appellate law among the qualities that made him well suited for this position. He is founder of The Jackson Law Firm in Tyler and has 10 years experience as an attorney.

Throughout the campaign, Bingham touted his experience as a prosecutor and working with capital murder and murder cases among the factors that set him apart.

For 10 years, he has served as Smith County DA and for 20 years has worked as a prosecutor.

During his time as a Smith County felony prosecutor, he has tried at least 150 felony jury trial cases, including 27 murder and capital murder cases.

“It’s hard to get across to the public that and even to some lawyers that, you know, this is a place you want to have your experience before you get there as a prosecutor,” he said in a previous interview.

Because no one ran as a Democrat, Bingham will be sworn in for his next four-year term in January.