Rebecca Like has won the race to keep her temporary job as Kauai’s acting prosecuting attorney over former county prosecutor Shaylene Iseri, who lost her bid for a comeback.

kauai locator badgeLike, who has never held public office before, had 70.5% of the vote compared to 29.5% for Iseri.

The election pitted two former foes against one another.

Like sued Iseri in 2012, alleging that Iseri retaliated against her when she was deputy prosecutor because she failed to participate in Iseri’s reelection campaign. It was one of a half dozen civil lawsuits that named Iseri as a defendant during the time when she held the job of Kauai’s top prosecutor.

An election ballot box on the side of the road
Like will finish out former county prosecuting attorney Justin Kollar’s remaining term, which ends in 2024. Kollar, who voters elected to three four-year terms, resigned in September to relocate to California. Brittany Lyte/Civil Beat/2022

Now in a position to reshape law enforcement, Like has said that she would work to reduce the number of people who go to prison for one-off, minor crimes and advocate for comprehensive use of mental health and addiction services in the criminal justice system.

Rebecca Like is a political newcomer who has worked in the Office of the Prosecuting Attorney for nine years. Courtesy: Rebecca Like/2021

In her new role, Like has said she’d improve programs to help former prisoners reenter society and bolster social services and diversion programs for people who commit low-level offenses, such as trespassing or disorderly conduct, and lack access to mental health care or housing.

Throughout her campaign, Like has touted her managerial skills. As a boss of a 45-person staff, she said she’ll be predictable and consistent.

Like is endorsed by her predecessor Justin Kollar, who stepped down in September to relocate to California. Kollar has described Like as honest and intelligent, adding that she “has never shown up unprepared for anything in the entire time I’ve known her.”

“She’s an excellent courtroom litigator,” he said, “as well as somebody who’s been a manager for the past nine years. She has integrity, and she’s experienced.”

Kollar’s resignation prompted the special election, which cost taxpayers approximately $475,000. As the county’s newly elected top prosecutor, Like, of Anahola, will finish out Kollar’s remaining term, which ends in 2024.

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