Big Island Prosecutor Jay Kimura announced yesterday he is retiring after 31 years of public service — 19 as prosecutor.
The 59-year-old, who was elected Hawaii County prosecutor for five consecutive terms beginning in 1992, will retire on April 1.
First Deputy Prosecutor Charlene Iboshi said Kimura is retiring 1 1/2 years before the end of his term to care for his elderly mother.
"His whole career life has been dedicated to public service," said Iboshi, who will become acting prosecutor until Dec. 3, 2012. "He’s been a prosecutor. … This is his passion."
Kimura began his legal career as a deputy prosecuting attorney in 1979, and served as career criminal unit supervisor and first deputy prosecutor before being elected prosecutor.
Iboshi lauded Kimura for his selflessness in working collaboratively with the community to establish innumerable programs, and not for political gain.
"That’s unique for a prosecutor," she said. "He can plant the seed and he doesn’t need the glory. That’s something most prosecutors want. … He doesn’t need the limelight."
Kimura required deputy prosecutors "to be fair to victims, witnesses and defendants as well," she said. "You don’t do things for political reasons. You do it for the right reasons — to be fair and just," Iboshi said.
Kimura helped establish the Weed and Seed program in Pahoa, which cleaned up problems with drugs and violence and turned the community around, creating an economically vital area, according to a press statement.
Ten years ago, when the community lacked enough doctors to examine rape victims, Kimura worked with nurses to come up with the Sexual Assault Nurse Examiners program, the statement said.
Kimura also helped to establish many law enforcement and prevention methods to deal with crime on the Big Island, addressing domestic violence, drug abuse, gun violence, and child and elder abuse.
He also has encouraged communities to mobilize to solve crime, health and safety issues.
The Kauai native and Vietnam veteran is married to Louann Kimura, a Waiakea High School teacher, and has two children, Jeremy and Lindsey. He plans to remain on the Big Island.
In a written statement, Kimura thanked Hawaii County citizens "for the privilege and honor of serving them as their prosecuting attorney."
Kimura, who was working off-island, could not be reached for comment.