LIHU‘E — County of Kaua‘i Prosecuting Attorney Rebecca “Becky” Like was sworn into her position by Judge Randal Valenciano during a private ceremony in the Fifth Circuit Court.
“I am honored and humbled to be given the opportunity to lead such a talented and experienced team as we continue to move our office forward,” said Like in a statement.
“I promise to lead with accountability and transparency, and I do not take this obligation lightly. We are looking forward to a return to a sense of normalcy in our office post-pandemic and are confident that we can continue to deliver the public safety our island home deserves.”
Like won a special election for the position this February, defeating former prosecutor Shaylene Iseri.
Like took home 8,833 votes to Iseri’s 3,404, though only 25.7% of registered voters cast ballots in the race.
As part of her cabinet, Keola Siu will serve as first deputy, and Leon Davenport will serve as second deputy.
Like’s cabinet also includes Matthew Arakawa, Jared Brickey, Robert Christensen, Anne Clarkin, Todd Dickenson, Ginger Grinpas, David Loos, Tracy Murakami, Tyler Saitos, Ramsey Ross and Jennifer Winn.
She will oversee a staff of 36 employees, including 13 deputy attorneys and 23 support personnel.
The prosecuting attorney is responsible for pursuing criminal charges, and represents the state in those cases. They decide which cases to charge, request bail and negotiate plea deals with defendants.
Like ran on a progressive platform, emphasizing implementing evidence-based diversion programs for those seeking substance-abuse treatment and improving on-island addiction-treatment resources, and reducing reliance on cash bail. She has said that her own experience with substance abuse helped her understand that “addiction is not a moral issue, but a medical one.”
The Anahola resident has served in the OPA for 11 years, including nine as second deputy prosecutor. Prior to that, she served as a clerk for Judge Joseph Cardoza on Maui. She attended Lewis and Clark Law School in Portland, Oregon, and graduated from Portland State University with a bachelor’s degree in sociology and a minor in criminal justice.
The special election was initiated by former prosecutor Justin Kollar’s resignation last September. Kollar left for a non-profit job with three years remaining on his term, triggering the election at an estimated cost of $475,000.
Iseri’s campaign, which emphasized a more-tough-on-crime approach, was dogged by a series of lawsuits filed during her previous term as prosecutor, including one from Like, who claimed that Iseri retaliated against her because she did not participate in her reelection campaign. Though the cases were settled, relieving Iseri of any liability, the lawsuits cost the county a total of $1.6 million.
Source: The Garden Island