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The Honolulu Advertiser
Posted on: Friday, June 4, 2010

List of council hopefuls cut to 6

By Gordon Y.K. Pang
Advertiser Staff Writer

Six East Honolulu residents survived the first cut in the Honolulu City Council's selection of a ninth member.

The chosen Council District 4 representative will serve the remaining seven months of Charles Djou's term, following Djou's election to Congress.

The six are: Lee Donohue, Donna Ikeda, Jonathan Lai, Carl Takamura, Lori Wingard and Brian Yamane.

The names were culled from an original list of 27 applicants who had resumes submitted to the council. Djou resigned last week upon leaving for Washington.

Council Chairman Todd Apo, who heads the Executive Affairs and Legal Matters Committee , had hoped he and his colleagues could agree on a single name yesterday but that didn't happen.

Lai's name was inserted into a resolution that advanced out of the committee, so it will be his name on the document when it comes up for a final vote before the council on Wednesday.

But council staff also has been asked to draw up drafts for each of five other candidates that council members liked. And council members can still bring up any of the remaining 20 candidates on the day of the meeting. One candidate dropped out.

Several of the candidates said they are able to "hit the ground running," a valuable asset given the person selected shortly after being sworn in will be asked to cast a final vote on the city's $1.82 billion operating budget and other parts of the annual budget package.

Lai, a private attorney, is being supported by Djou. Donohue is former Honolulu police chief. Ikeda, Takamura and Yamane are former state legislators. Win- gard was formerly Djou's chief of staff.

Whoever is selected would serve until Jan. 2, when the person elected in a special election in the fall will take over and fill the remaining two years on the term that previously belonged to Djou.

But after voting 8-0 to put Lai's name on the resolution, Councilman Ikaika Anderson asked that separate drafts be drawn with the names Donohue, Ikeda and Yamane included.

Councilman Nestor Garcia then asked that drafts be made that would include the names of Takamura and Wingard.

"What's coming out of here is not a done deal," Apo said.


All but one of the 27 candidates appeared before the committee and they were called to speak in alphabetical order to make a two-minute pitch.

One of the candidates, Marsha Rose Joyner, said she had been nominated by a friend and that she wanted her name withdrawn from consideration.

Donohue spent four dec- ades on the police force and 6 1/4 years as chief; he grew up in Waikīkī and lives in Hawai'i Kai.

"I believe my strengths are I know the budget process, I've worked with many of you," Donohue said.

Ikeda is now on the state Board of Education and would have to resign if selected to serve on the council because state law says no one can hold two elected offices at the same time.

Ikeda, who spent 22 years in the Legislature, noted that she once chaired the Senate Ways and Means Committee and also reduced the budget when she was BOE chairwoman.

"I realize the pain you're about to go through and I'm here to help, if I may," Ikeda told council members .

Lai said besides being supported by Djou, his Punahou School classmate and friend, he's already been vetted by the council, which voted for him to be placed on the state Hawai'i Community Development Authority which oversees planning of Kaka'ako and Kalaeloa.

"I would serve as a bridge ... not disrupt things," Lai said, suggesting that he would be most in line with Djou's political views.

Takamura said he's not only been a lawmaker, but the head of the Hawaii Business Roundtable for 16 years, served as an aide to both Mazie Hirono and George Ariyoshi, and been on the city Zoning Board of Appeals.

"The responsibilities of city government touch on the day-to-day lives of everyone on O'ahu, and it is important for the City Council to work closely together among themselves, and with the administration to meet these needs," Takamura said.

Wingard said she's the one most familiar with the issues dealt with by the council and by the District 4 office since she spent five years as Djou's chief of staff.

"I know every single issue before the council (as well) if not better than most of the people in this room," Wingard said. "I'm best qualified on Day 1 to hit the ground running. You need someone that can take immediate, effective action."

Yamane, who spent six years in the state House, presented himself as a nose-to-the-grindstone, no-nonsense selection.

"When I was a legislator, my goal was to read the issue, make a decision and keep my word," Yamane said. "My only goal, if given the opportunity, would be to work as collaboratively and harmoniously with all of you on issues that affect the city and county and making sure Council District 4's word is heard."

Donohue, Ikeda and Takamura said they support the city's $5.4 billion rail project while Lai said given that the city's voters had agreed to do the project, he would make decisions to ensure it is done right.

Neither Wingard nor Yamane gave a view on the issue, nor were asked about it.