Smith County election debate revisits passionate topics for cand - - Tyler, Longview, Jacksonville |ETX News

Smith County election debate revisits passionate topics for candidates


The passionate debate continues between two candidates running for the Smith County Office of District Attorney.

Current District Attorney Matt Bingham and his challenger, Austin Reeve Jackson, met for the first time Thursday night after a heated exchange on Monday that left many with questions about their campaigns.

We answered some of those questions Wednesday night during a fact check story on the candidates' claims. 

The two main topics discussed were Jackson's prior experience as a prosecutor in Lubbock County and Bingham's budget accountability. 

East Texans filled a room at Tyler Junior College to hear more on those topics from the two men who are promising to keep our community safe as the Smith County District Attorney. 

"Unlike some debates where there are agendas, this is not an agenda driven debate, this is issue based coming from a gamete of questions from a variety of students," says Jason Waller, department chair for criminal justice paralegal and public administration at TJC.

Students asked the candidates their questions throughout the debate.

We asked Jackson if he thought there would be further discussion on Bingham's budget and his own experience as a prosecutor.

"The issues don't change, the emotions aren't going to change. I'm passionate about what I do, which feeds some of that," Reeve says. 

Jackson was right. The opening question prompted both sides to rehash those two talking points. 

"Since my opponent took office, he has increased his budget by 49% over the past 10 years," says Jackson.

"What differentiates me from Mr. Jackson is that I've been here 18 years, here on the job," says Bingham.

However, Jackson says he does agree with Bingham on several topics, including Bingham's mission to handle each case individually.

"Not only is each offense different, each person involved in that offense is different. Every case is different," Reeve says.

Still, Bingham believes in order to do the job right you need a district attorney with experience. He says Jackson just doesn't have it,"The district attorney's office is not a training ground. When you get here you've got to have your experience."

They ended the night on their campaign high notes, promising to seek justice for every case in Smith County while still being friends. 

"It's just a campaign. It's not worth breaking friendships over and that's just how I feel," says Bingham.

Right now there are no other debates scheduled between Matt Bingham and Austin Reeve Jackson. 

Early voting ends Friday, February 28th.

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