ITHACA, N.Y. — The Ithaca Voice is teaming up with The Ithaca Journal to host a Tompkins County District Attorney candidate debate between Ed Kopko and Matt Van Houten.

The two candidates will square off at 7 p.m. on Oct. 20 at Ithaca Town Hall, located at 215 N. Tioga St. Doors open at 6:30 p.m.

Van Houten is running as the District Attorney candidate for the Democrats and Ed Kopko is running for the Independence party.

The forum comes after a contentious election season for the job, which cropped up after former District Attorney Gwen Wilkinson resigned from the position in July, due to an ongoing illness.

Kopko, Van Houten and Acting District Attorney Andrew Bonavia ran as potential candidates for the Democratic party. Members of the Tompkins County Democratic Committee nominated Van Houten as their candidate last month.

Kopko, who shortly afterward received the candidate nomination from the Independence party, challenged Van Houten’s nomination in a lawsuit, stating that there were many flaws that happened during the vote.

The case was brought before Supreme Court Justice Eugene D. Faughnan in late September, who said about the vote, “I understand there were flaws. There were a number of flaws.”

Related: Court sides with Tompkins Democrats, rules District Attorney nominee vote was valid

But he ruled that the flaws were not dire or drastic enough to overturn the vote — they were merely minor procedural flaws, he determined.

Since then, both Kopko and Van Houten have been running campaigns and reaching out to the public for support.

The debate will be moderated by Ithaca Voice Managing Editor Jolene Almendarez and Ithaca Journal Reporter Kelsey O’Connor. It’s expected to last about 90 minutes.

Attendees will be given time to ask questions at the end of the debate. Reader submitted questions and questions asked during the live stream of the event will also be considered. To submit a question, email Almendarez at, or like this Facebook Page  and submit a question on the page wall.

Related to Ed Kopko — Tompkins DA candidate: 30+ years of law experience; talks Ithaca Plan, wrongful convictions

Related to Matt Van Houten — Tompkins DA candidate: DA needs community presence, ‘think outside the box’ about drug treatment

Jolene Almendarez

Jolene Almendarez is Managing Editor at The Ithaca Voice. She can be reached at; you can learn more about her at the links in the top right of this box.