OPINION: Dear Jamae, Please Be Gentle
by Nate Gaddis
So what do you do with a county employee who was the subject of multiple lawsuits, has a history of bad communication skills, and was largely panned by the press?
Give her the power to put people in jail, of course!
For a few of us that have been less-than-glowing in our commentary over our former county clerk, seeing the words “Jamae Kawauchi” and “Deputy Prosecutor” in the same headline is enough to produce a little sweat.
Here in the Opinion section, we’ve been busy double checking our speeding tickets and child support payments to ensure we won’t be getting any unwanted invitations to a nearby courtroom.
Just a few months ago, finding Ms. Kawauchi required all the skills of a native American tracker. After she was replaced as county clerk by Stewart Maeda, most had assumed she would take at least a couple of weeks off before making headlines again.
But like a politically savvy phoenix, Jamae has risen from the ashes of this year’s elections snafus and landed a perch under new Big Island prosecutor Mitch Roth.
Roth narrowly defeated Corporation Counsel Lincoln Ashida, who occasionally clashed with Kawauchi during her time as clerk.
Kawauchi, who will be based in Kona under her new assignment, is no stranger to the courtroom. A Harvard University fellow and graduate of the UH law program, she spent two years as an associate with Carlsmith Ball LLP, in addition to two years in her own practice.
Roth has indicated a willingness to offer Kawauchi a fresh start, and it remains to be seen how the former clerk will perform at her new post.
But one thing is for sure. Jamae is a scrapper. If she goes after the bad guys with the same gusto that she did her election-year critics, we’ll soon have a crime rate even Canadians would envy.
Sounds good, eh?