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The Honolulu Advertiser
Updated at 4:45 p.m., Monday, June 23, 2008

Other Hawai'i mayors who died in office

Kaua'i Mayor Bryan Baptiste, who died yesterday following heart bypass surgery, is the first Hawai'i mayor to die in office in nearly 20 years.

On April 12, 1990, Big Island Mayor Bernard Akana died of cancer at age 70.

Akana was elected in 1988, and upon his death managing director Larry Tanimoto took over for eight months until a special election could be held.

Councilwoman Lorraine Inouye won that election and served the remaining two years of Akana's term, yielding to Stephen Yamashiro when he won the seat in the 1992 regular election.

The Big Island has seen its share of temporary mayors. In two other instances, the managing director of Hawai'i County was elevated to the top post when sitting mayors left before their terms expired.

Bruce McCall became mayor when Mayor Shunichi Kimura resigned in May 1974 to become a 3rd Circuit Court judge. He was replaced by Herbert Matayoshi following a special election.

When Matayoshi resigned to run for the state Senate in 1984, managing director Megumi Kon served as mayor for a few months before Dante Carpenter was voted in.

Maui County experienced a mayoral vacancy when Elmer Cravalho abruptly left office after winning a second term in 1978.

The late Hannibal Tavares won the mayor's seat in a special election in October 1979 to complete Cravalho's term. He became Maui's longest serving mayor, serving until Jan. 2, 1991.

Reaching back to territorial days, Honolulu Mayor Joseph Fern died of diabetes in 1920 while in office. Johnny Wilson was selected by the Board of Supervisors to succeed him and ended up serving a total of 19 years as mayor during three terms from 1920 to 1954.

Another territorial-era mayor of Honolulu, George Fred Wright, died in office July 2, 1938, while traveling aboard the SS Mariposa. Charles Crane was appointed to succeed him, serving as mayor until Jan. 2, 1941.

On the state level, the lieutenant governor stands by to assume the governorship in case of an unexpected vacancy.

Lt. Gov. George Ariyoshi became acting governor in 1973 when John A. Burns retired for health reasons. Ariyoshi then was elected to three terms on his own.