Unlike the Honolulu mayoral race in which neither candidate has ever worked a city budget, drafted a city ordinance or served even one term as a city council member, the prosecutor race this year offers us two candidates with a surplus of legal talent and ideas for the job.

I’ve left my mayor ballot blank as my way of saying “neither of you is competent for the work ahead as we deal with tax revenue loss, city services needed more than ever, and rail.

I won’t tell you who I voted for as prosecutor or suggest who you should vote for. You must come to that choice on your own.

I don’t think you can go wrong with either one. Both have been prosecutors. Taking them alphabetically:

Steve Alm, in addition to his time as a deputy prosecutor, has been a state judge and a deputy U.S. Attorney.

He may be best known as the instigator of our HOPE probation program — Hawaii’s Opportunity Probation with Enforcement. It handles offenders, including violent ones, who are likely to violate the conditions of probation. They get random drug tests and any misbehavior and they get a swift hearing and prison.

“We have to do justice, not just win cases,” Alm said in a Civil Beat interview. “We have to bring in the right supervisors, be an experienced leader of an office — I can hit the ground running.”

Kau has been both a civil litigator and a criminal attorney. She worked with federal prosecutors in the Katherine and Louis Kealoha probes. She claims there are still four deputy prosecutors at the office who helped  Katherine Kealoha and sidelined city prosecutor Keith Kaneshiro in their misconduct.

“One of the main reasons why I ran is to end that corruption, and have those people terminated,” she said.

She’s represented criminals against prosecution, but that’s what lawyers are supposed to do — guarantee a fair trial. She’s been in the news as the lawyer for housekeepers in that Abigail Kawananakoa money mess.

Alm was born in Honolulu and raised in Manoa and Kaimuki. His law degree is from the University of the Pacific. He worked at the Dole Cannery and Charlie’s Taxi in his youth.

Kau was born on Oahu, raised in Kaneohe and her degree is from Santa Clara University Law. She says at age 15 she was living “on the streets” here with “no one to take care of my twin sister and me.”

Alm says we rely too much on incarceration of criminals. Kau says no we don’t. Alm is not a fan of our cash bail requirement. Kau is.

SHOPO, the police union, has endorsed Alm. Kau’s sole union endorsement is the ILWU Local 100.

Alm has consistently led Kau in both Star-Advertiser and Civil Beat polls so far. 

There you have them in a nutshell.

The choice is yours to make.


Published by Bob Jones

Journalist since age 19. St. Petersburg Times, Noticias y Viajes in Madrid, Overseas Weekly in Frankfurt and Paris, the Louisville Courier- Journal, the Honolulu Advertiser, KGMB-TV, NBC News foreign correspondent in Africa and Southeast Asia, and MidWeek columnist. LL.B LaSalle University Law. 3 years in the U.S. Air Force. Covered: Biafran War in Nigeria (1968) Vietnam War (1969-73), Iraq in 1991. George Foster Peabody Award for distinguished journalism for reporting in China. 2 Emmys for documentaries. Married to journalist Denby Fawcett; one daughter. Brett Jones, foreign service officer, State Department.

9 replies on “Talent To Spare”

  1. I don’t vote for the Prosecutor, living on Kaua`i. However, after watching the debate last night, I definitely would NOT vote for Ms Kau.

  2. Blank voting in the Mayor’s race is unfortunate and not good for inspiring others to get engaged in the democratic process. If not the candidates, look at the people behind them, their independence of thought, focus on fairness in government, and who they would appoint to guide them while they learn how government works.

    1. He is a change, but a bad one. Back to the days of Lingle, where budget slashing, gridlock with the legislative branch, and strikes we’re the norm.

  3. Not being impressed by either mayoral candidate is not a valid reason for not participating in the selection process, and leaving the ballot blank won’t communicate anything to anyone. Gotta play the cards you’re dealt, even when they suck.

  4. Thanks for your column today. Just want to add, on the PBS presentation with Mr. Alm and Ms. Kau, he said that he supports a term limit of two four-year terms for the prosecutor’s office while Ms. Kau said she does not support a term limit. Also, I understand your decision not to vote in the mayor’s race, but I agree with Mike and just sayin’ on this subject (even if you don’t play cards!).

  5. Your choice not to vote for Mayor means you’re OK with the notion that someone
    else is making the decision for you. It also means that whatever the next Mayor
    does you need to keep your mouth shut because you didn’t care enough to vote.
    You have forfeited your right to an opinion by giving up your vote. Wonder what the
    1960’s- 70’s Bob Jones would have to say about your decision. ??

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