– The Garden Island is asking the same five questions of each of the candidates for prosecuting attorney, to help residents decide who to vote for on Nov. 8.
Justin Kollar, incumbent, is seeking another term as the county’s prosecuting attorney. If re-elected, he hopes to address drug houses, domestic violence and find ways for drug addicts to get the help they need.
TGI: What strengths will you bring to the prosecutor’s office?
Kollar: I will bring more than a decade of experience in working to make Hawaii a safer place. I’m the only candidate with executive experience managing a staff of 40-plus employees and working with county, state and federal partners and community stakeholders.
I also bring a varied and deep set of legal experiences. I’m the only candidate that’s prosecuted murder and death cases and successfully argued a first degree murder case before the Hawaii Supreme Court.
I bring the excellent team we’ve built over the last four years. They’re talented and have deep roots and substantial experience here in Hawaii.
TGI: What do you see as the top two priorities facing the prosecutor’s office?
Kollar: Drug houses/meth dealers in our neighborhoods and domestic violence.
During my first term, crime rates decreased significantly across the board in all major categories; however, we still have a drug problem that rips families apart and a domestic violence problem that creates so much pain and suffering. In my first term we stabilized the office and addressed the internal issues that were keeping the office from working effectively. That’s been reflected in the fact that we’ve been able to go out and provide the community with a vastly improved level of service. We want to build on that.
TGI: How would you work to ensure the prosecutor’s office and the Kauai Police Department have a strong working relationship?
Kollar: We keep building on the strong working relationship we’ve built over the past four years. Even though the police union does not support me (for political reasons), our office works very well with the many fine people at KPD.
When the phone rings at 3 a.m. because a case is developing, we are there for them. When a complex logistical problem arises, we sit down and work it out. That’s based on mutual trust, respect, and understanding … not just in senior management but at all levels down to the rank and file clerks, patrol officers and deputy prosecutors.
TGI: What are your plans to fight methamphetamine on the island?
Kollar: Last year we hired one of the top drug prosecutors in Hawaii specifically to prosecute meth dealers.
We’ve strengthened our relationships with federal prosecutors to ensure seamless transition of cases when they adopt them for federal prosecution to make sure nothing slips through the cracks. We’ve secured funding to establish a Drug Nuisance Abatement Unit, to focus on closing down drug houses in our neighborhoods.
Methamphetamine trafficking takes a huge toll on our community and affects our friends, families and quality of life. It requires a multi-pronged approach, which also includes better rehabilitation and reintegration options, which we support.
TGI: What do you think is the biggest challenge facing the prosecutor’s office?
Kollar: The challenge is keeping the many moving parts of the office working in harmony.
The prosecuting attorney must be an administrator (to manage a department and navigate county processes and procedures), a leader (to inspire the trust and support of the community and office staff), a competent attorney (to skillfully analyze issues and litigate), a mentor (to our front line prosecutors), an advocate (to ensure that legislators pass good laws and don’t pass bad laws), and a conciliator (to solve problems and resolve disputes among attorneys, employees and many partner agencies). I have a record of success in those areas.