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Kaneshiro defeats Takata in prosecutor's race

By Ken Kobayashi

LAST UPDATED: 10:18 p.m. HST, Nov 6, 2012

City Prosecutor Keith Kaneshiro defeated former city Deputy Prosecutor Kevin Takata for a four-year term to head the office that prosecutes most of the criminal cases on Oahu.

Kaneshiro held a commanding lead in the returns. He served as city prosecutor for 10 years while Takata was running for his first elective office.

Kaneshiro, 63, won the current two-year term in the 2010 election replacing former city Prosecutor Peter Carlisle who ran for mayor.

Takata, 56, challenged his former boss in running a campaign whose major theme was that Kaneshiro’s mismanagement led to a “mass exodus” and a turnover of more than 50 of the office’s 100 deputies since Kaneshiro took office.

Takata was one of 11 deputies who Kaneshiro didn’t retain when he took office Other deputies departed during Kaneshiro’s term.

Takata, a city deputy prosecutor for 23 years, said the reason he is challenging Kaneshiro is that current and former deputies who didn’t like the way the office was being run encouraged him to enter the race.

During the campaign, Takata said his record includes more than 20 homicide convictions, the most for any prosecutor in Hawaii.

“I’m a prosecutor running for office,” Takata said. “He’s a politician running for office.”

Takata is currently a deputy attorney general. He took vacation to run for prosecutor.

Kaneshiro downplayed the deputies leaving office.

He said he didn’t reappoint the 11 because some expressed that they didn’t want to work for him. 

Some of the others retired and left Oahu for reasons other than any poor morale, Kaneshiro said.

But he said others left because they didn’t like the supervision he imposed after learning that some showed up for late for work and left early.

Kaneshiro stressed his experience as prosecutor as well as serving as the director of the Department of Public Safety in the late 1990s.

The role of the prosecutor, he said, goes beyond running the office and includes becoming an advocate for pushing legislation to protect public safety.

Kaneshiro was city prosecutor for two four-year terms after he defeated Charles Marsland in 1988, the only time a challenger has beaten an incumbent  since the position became elective in 1980.

Takata was a deputy prosecutor during those two terms.  He continued working under Carlisle for 14 years until Kaneshiro returned to office.

The city prosecutor receives a yearly salary of $129,312  and runs an office of about 100 deputies and nearly 200 other employees. Its annual budget is about $21 million.

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