Prosecutor candidate Darwin Ching promised to bring a "new approach" to fighting crime, while candidate Keith Kaneshiro touted his previous experience as city prosecutor during a forum yesterday at the University of Hawaii-Manoa campus.
Franklin Pacarro Jr., the third candidate in the special election for city prosecutor, did not show up because of prior obligations, said Andrew Itsuno, moderator and president of the Associated Students of the University of Hawaii.
The forum was sponsored by the Manoa Campus Center Board and the Manoa Pre-Law Association. It was the last scheduled appearance for the three candidates before Saturday’s winner-take-all nonpartisan election.
The winner will serve two years to replace former city Prosecutor Peter Carlisle, who resigned to run for mayor.
Sitting next to an empty chair before a midday crowd of no more than 100, Ching and Kaneshiro criticized Pacarro for not showing up.
"It’s like they don’t think highly of your votes," Kaneshiro said.
Ching said Pacarro also did not appear before a Kalihi Neighborhood Board meeting.
The two candidates generally agreed on crime-fighting issues, but one difference was over the prosecutor’s role in seeking funding for drug-treatment programs.
Ching said he would lobby the Legislature for stricter laws for home-invasion attackers, but said the prosecutor should not be seeking the treatment funding.
"That job I leave to the Legislature and professionals," he said.
Kaneshiro said the prosecutor must be a leader and a voice in law enforcement, including seeking the treatment support to deal with the demand for drugs.
"You have to put money where the mouth is," he said.
Ching, Gov. Linda Lingle’s former director of the Department of Labor and Industrial Relations, said he is the only candidate who has dealt with the "state fiscal crisis … and doing more with less."
Kaneshiro, director of the Department of Public Safety under Gov. Ben Cayetano, said he headed the department when it opened more bed space for prisoners here by sending inmates to the mainland.
Ching said he brings a "new vision" with a "proactive approach" of prosecutors forming partnerships and working with the community to prevent crime rather than react to it.
Kaneshiro, who was city prosecutor from 1988 to 1996, said he entered this year’s race because he felt that it’s "too critical for me to stand on the side any more."
Pacarro raised more than $173,000, the most money among the three candidates, according to last week’s Campaign Spending Commission reports. Ching raised nearly $113,600, including about $60,000 in loans, and Kaneshiro nearly $75,000, including $22,500 in loans.
Vivian Lin, president-elect of the Campus Center Board, said Pacarro’s campaign called yesterday morning to express regrets and say he wasn’t able to attend the forum.