Editor’s note: For Hawaii’s Nov. 8 general election, Civil Beat asked candidates to answer some questions.

The following came from Keith Kaneshiro, one of two candidates for Honolulu prosecutor. The other candidate is Anosh Yaqoob.

Go to Civil Beat’s Elections Guide for general information, and check out other candidates on the General Election Ballot.

Keith Kaneshiro
Keith Kaneshiro 

Name: Keith Kaneshiro

Office seeking:  Honolulu Prosecutor

Occupation: County prosecutor 

Community organizations/prior offices held: Prosecuting attorney, 1988-1996, 2010-present

Age: 67

Place of residence: Honolulu

Campaign website: keithkaneshiroprosecutor.com

1. This year has seen an outsized influence from people who want big changes in how government is run. What would you do to change how the prosecutor’s office is run?

As always, we remain focused on ensuring public safety and becoming more efficient. In the past that has meant vast improvements to our case tracking and records keeping capabilities and regular training for deputies in specialized areas of prosecution such as DNA evidence, interviewing child victims and trauma forensics.

Administratively, the prosecutor’s office should be independent from the mayor and city admistration. Having budget autonomy is critical in ensuring this independence. After the prosecutor’s budget is approved by the City Council, the mayor’s office should not interfere with the budget that has been appropriated.

2. What would you do to strengthen police accountability?

While we maintain a partnership with police, we don’t shy from prosecuting officers who have broken the law. If an officer commits a crime, we will hold that officer accountable. And our record shows that we have prosecuted officers.

3. Jails and prisons are overcrowded and Native Hawaiians are disproportionately represented. Should we be incarcerating fewer people? Why or why not?

Decisions about incarceration should not be based on prison populations but the facts of each individual case. Who should be incarcerated? Anyone whose actions pose a threat to public safety. Race is never a consideration for incarceration. If there is not enough bed space, the state should build more beds.

4. What would you do as prosecutor to address the drug problem?

Treatment is essential in addressing drugs. I introduced Drug Court to help first-time offenders stay out of the criminal justice system and I regularly ask the Legislature to fund treatment for those on probation or parole. As for those who manufacture, import, sell and profit from drugs such as heroin and meth, we will prosecute them to the fullest extent of the law. This is why I strongly opposed the removal of mandatory sentencing for meth trafficking since crystal meth is still a major problem.

5. Hawaii has long been dominated by the Democratic Party establishment. Should this change, and if so, how?

This is a question that can only be answered by Hawaii’s voters.

6. What specific steps would you take to strengthen Hawaii’s lax lobbying, ethics and financial disclosure laws?

Those are for lawmakers to decide.

7. Would you support eliminating Hawaii’s high fees for access to public records when the request is in the public interest?


8. Voters complain their elected officials don’t listen to them. What would you do to improve communication?

While we are more than willing to hear concern from citizens and address them when we can, the prosecutor’s office is unique in that our decisions are always based on the law and never on public opinion.

9. What do you see as the most pressing issue facing your office? What will you do about it?

Human trafficking is a growing concern and we have created a unit tasked with investigating and charging the owners of brothels operating as massage parlors or “relaxation salons.” Our other priorities are elder abuse, sex assault, domestic violence, drugs animal cruelty and cyber crimes.