Honolulu City Council has 27 contenders for Djou's empty seat
By Gordon Y.K. Pang
Advertiser Staff Writer
Count a former police chief and three former state lawmakers among the 27 East Honolulu residents interested in filling the temporary vacancy in the City Council District 4 seat created by Charles Djou's election to Congress.
The council's Executive Matters and Legal Affairs Committee expects to hear from all of the candidates during a meeting at 1 p.m. tomorrow. The public will also be allowed to weigh in at what is expected to be a lengthy meeting.
Yesterday was the deadline for people interested in the job to send their applications to the council.
Council Chairman Todd Apo wants the committee, made up of all eight remaining council members, to reach a consensus on Djou's interim successor by the end of the meeting. That choice is expected to be finalized at the June 9 meeting of the full council.
The interim councilman will serve the final seven months of Djou's term. A full-term successor will be voted in during the 2010 regular elections.
Under the City Charter, a successor is picked by the council — and not via special election — when there is less than a year remaining in the unexpired term.
Former Honolulu Police Chief Lee Donohue is among those interested in filling Djou's unexpired term, while others include former state lawmakers Donna Ikeda, Carl Takamura and Brian Yamane.
Ikeda is also an elected member of the state Board of Education whose term expires Nov. 2. She may need to resign from the board if she is chosen as a council member, because state law bars elected officials from holding two offices simultaneously.
Also in the running are civil rights advocate Marsha Rose Joyner and other community activists, including so-called "bicycle mom" Natalie Iwasa, veterinarian Frank De Giacomo, Wai'alae-Kāhala Neighborhood Board member Lucinda Pyles andž˙procurement specialist Judy Sobin.
Seven names had previously surfaced: Hawai'i Kai Neighborhood Board Chairman Greg Knudsen, attorney Jonathan Lai, former 'Āina Haina Neighborhood Board member Warner "Kimo" Sutton and Lori Wingard, Djou's former chief of staff.
Several council members have told The Advertiser that Djou lobbied on behalf of Lai, a Punahou classmate and fellow University of Southern California law school graduate, before leaving for Washington last week.
Apo, in a news release, said all applicants have been asked to attend tomorrow's meeting.
They've also been asked to provide information about community involvement and their individual stances on hot-button city issues including roads, sewers and transit.
Apo and other council members have indicated they would prefer that whomever they select for the temporary job promise not to seek the full four-year term in this fall's elections, because that person would have the advantage of running as an incumbent.