Former Judge Steven Alm wins the Honolulu prosecutor race
By: Cassie Ordonio
19 November 2020
Kau, 42, is an attorney specializing in civil and criminal litigation. She also assisted the federal government in investigating Katherine Kealoha and represented clients who were targeted by her.
Kau’s 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’s tough 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.”
Former Hawai‘i Judge Steven Alm prevailed in the Honolulu prosecutor race over Attorney Megan Kau on Nov. 3 and will succeed former Prosecuting Attorney Keith Kaneshiro.
“I feel great,” Alm 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 had 51.7% of the vote, compared with 41.4% for Kau.
In an interview with Kau, she said she’s happy to have made it this far and will continue her
“We got to educate the public on the criminal justice system,” she said.
Both candidates vied 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 – former police chief Louis Kealoha 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 would 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,” he said. “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.
Alm said the first thing he’ll do as prosecutor 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,” he said.
Alm also described himself as a probation advocate. In 2004, he founded Hawai‘i’s Opportunity Probation with Enforcement (HOPE Probation), a strict supervision program that cracks down on drug offenders and probation violators.
Former Judge Steven Alm won the Honolulu prosecutor race on Nov. 3. He says the first thing he’ll do in office is work on ethics issues. (Courtesy Steven Alm)
Honolulu Attorney Megan Kau lost the Honolulu prosecutor race on Nov. 3. She says she will continue her law practice. (Courtesy Megan Kau)