Editor’s note: For Hawaii’s Nov. 8 general election, Civil Beat asked candidates to answer some questions.
The following came from Anosh Yaqoob, one of two candidates for Honolulu prosecutor. The other candidate is Keith Kaneshiro.
Name: Anosh Yaqoob
Office seeking: Honolulu prosecutor
Place of residence: Honolulu
Campaign website: None
1. This year has seen an outsized influence from people who want big changes in how the government is run. What would you do to change how the prosecutor’s office is run?
First, I will establish a coherent hiring protocol. Currently, one does not exist. It is not clear whether qualifications or connections matter more for employment at the Honolulu City Prosecutor’s Office; it seems anybody can work there as long as Keith Kaneshiro says so. Secondly, I will be more vigilant in handling conflicts of interest. This is concerning familial and personal relationships of the people who are hired to work there.
2. What would you do to strengthen police accountability?
The police are not above the law. If elected, my very presence as an outsider — as someone not from within the law enforcement community — will strengthen the perception that no one will be shown favoritism.
I do not have any personal, compromising or familial connections with anyone within law enforcement, so handling cases of police accountability will be approached just as equally as any other case that comes across my desk.
3. Jails and prisons are overcrowded and Native Hawaiians are disproportionately represented. Should we be incarcerating fewer people? Why or why not?
This is a bizarre question. I have a number of points for this question. Offenders should be incarcerated if they have committed a crime that requires them to be incarcerated.
No doubt, these are important issues, but the ability to make and form policy is not an area that this particular office deals with. Indeed, the Native Hawaiian people are overrepresented in some negative social statistics, but that fact alone should not inform the manner in which we prosecute cases. Programs like HOPE Probation are helpful and I will make use of programs like this when necessary. Meaningfully addressing social issues such as disproportionate incarceration of any one particular group of citizens would be beyond the purview of the Honolulu City Prosecutor’s office.
4. What would you do as prosecutor to address the drug problem?
Prosecute those that have committed drug-related crimes. To be sure, I do believe in rehabilitation and doing our best to effectively reintegrate those who have committed drug-related crimes back into the community in a manner that is safe and appropriate for everyone.
5. Hawaii has long been dominated by the Democratic Party establishment. Should this change, and if so, how?
First, I am running as an Independent, unaffiliated with any political party.
Second, it is unclear to me that having members of other parties in our government would produce any kind of substantive improvement. It is really about good ideas and solutions rather than party affiliation, and I am not sure I have heard any good new ideas or any good new solutions from anyone running for any office this year. We had a Republican governor for eight years, and I am not sure it either improved or negatively impacted Hawaii in any way.
6. What specific steps would you take to strengthen Hawaii’s lax lobbying, ethics, and financial disclosure laws?
I am not running for an office that could amend those laws, such as a legislative office (i.e. state House, City Council, State Senate). Definitely, I will be vigilant to prosecute under existing laws.
7. Would you support eliminating Hawaii’s high fees for access to public records when the request is in the public interest?
We should do everything we can to make access to public records as affordable as possible.
8. Voters complain their elected officials don’t listen to them. What would you do to improve communication?
I will be as accessible as humanly possible. Most of the interaction with the community that comes from the Prosecutor’s Office concerns victims of crimes and the families of victims. I will do my best to be as open and involved with those individuals as possible.
9. What do you see as the most pressing issue facing your office? What will you do about it?
Appearances of impropriety. Currently Police Chief Louis Kealoha is in embroiled in an FBI investigation. Every time the news reports on this matter, they take care to mention that Kealoha’s wife works in the Prosecutor’s Office as a deputy prosecutor. The appearance of impropriety is a pressing issue that the new prosecutor must address. The lack of a coherent hiring protocol feeds into this issue as well. What exactly makes someone qualified to work at the Honolulu City Prosecutor’s Office? It remains unclear.