Former Judge Steven Alm prevails in the Honolulu prosecutor race over attorney Megan Kau.
“I feel great,” he said in an email. “First time for elective office and met a lot of interesting people. Lots of work to do and I can't wait to get started!”
Alm will succeed former prosecuting attorney Keith Kaneshiro and will be the fourth person to hold office.
Alm had 51.7% of the vote, compared with 41.4% for Kau.
In an interview with Kau, she said she’s happy she made it this far.“We got to educate the public on the criminal justice system,” she said.
Kau said she will continue with her law practice.
Both candidates are vyed to restore the public’s trust in the Honolulu Prosecutor Office after a federal corruption probe that led to the convictions of Katherine Kealoha along with her husband and two other officers.
Former prosecuting attorney Keith Kaneshiro, who did not seek reelection, is currently on paid leave due to a target letter from the federal corruption investigation.
Kau and Alm had different visions of how they will run the office.
Alm, 67, has 15 years of experience as a Circuit Court judge and was named U.S. attorney in 1994 by then-President Bill Clinton.
He described himself as “tough but fair.”
“I think my message of balance has resonated with the community,” Alm said in an email. “Some folks need to be sent to prison to protect society, but we need to do a much better job of rehabilitation when they are in prison.”
“At the same time, the majority can and should be placed on probation at sentencing
and we have proven strategies like Drug Court, Mental Health Court, and HOPE Probation to help folks succeed on probation,” he continued.
If he’s elected, Alm said the first thing he’ll do is “create a culture of high ethical standards” by training the deputy prosecutors in ethics, and hiring supervisors to monitor them.
“The role of a prosecutor is to do justice, not win cases,” Alm said in an interview.
Alm also described himself as a probation advocate. In 2004, he founded Hawaii’s Opportunity Probation with Enforcement (HOPE Probation), a strict supervision program that cracks down on drug offenders and probation violators.
Kau, 42, is an attorney specializing in civil and criminal litigation. She also assisted the federal government in investigating Kealoha and represented clients who were targeted by her.
Her priorities are cleaning up crime and making treatment programs more accessible.
She believes in charging low and high-level crimes.
Her campaign slogan is, “Fighting for Honolulu’s Victims – Fresh New Start.”
She is a domestic violence survivor and was homeless at 15 years old, which is why Kau says that she takes a tough stance on crime.
Kau said in an interview that the trust will be restored to the office.
“Katherine Keloha was an aberration,” she said. “This is not normal behavior, it’s not what we see in the prosecutors, and she is not representative of any of the other deputies other than the people that helped her.”