Djou's swearing-in to start council's vacancy process
By Gordon Y.K. Pang
Advertiser Staff Writer
Congressman-elect Charles Djou bid farewell to his Honolulu City Council colleagues yesterday morning before hopping on a plane to Washington, D.C., where he is expected to be sworn in today.
House GOP leaders informed him that his swearing-in is tentatively scheduled at 4 p.m. EST today (10 a.m. Hawai'i time), Djou said.
Djou won Saturday's special election to fill the vacancy in the 1st Congressional District over Democrats Colleen Hanabusa and Ed Case.
Djou's resignation from the council, effective when he is sworn in as a U.S. House member, means the eight remaining members of the council now select a temporary replacement.
Because Djou resigned with less than a year left on his term, the Honolulu City Charter calls for the council to pick someone within 30 days. If it cannot do so, it would be up to Mayor Mufi Hannemann to choose a temporary successor.
Council Chairman Todd Apo said his office will take resumes and letters of interest from people in Djou's District 4 (East Honolulu, from Ala Moana/Waikīkī to Hawai'i Kai) through June 1.
Council members will then vote on a choice at their next regular meeting on June 9.
Whoever takes the District 4 seat will hold it until someone is elected to the next four-year term in this fall's election.
Djou's immediate successor will take part in some weighty decisions, including the city's $1.8 billion budget that's up for a vote the same day he or she will be picked and take office.
Djou said he would prefer that the temporary replacement not be someone who intends to run for the seat, or any other elected office, this fall. Apo said it's also his preference to pick someone who is not running for the seat, noting that the council has used that criteria in the past. Ultimately, however, that decision will be up to a majority of the eight remaining council members.
Asked if he would support anyone for the temporary post, Djou said he would defer to his former colleagues. "It is ultimately their choice, not mine." However, Djou said friend Jonathan Lai, a local attorney and a Djou political supporter, has expressed interest in the job. "But I will defer to my colleagues on the Honolulu City Council," Djou said.
One of Djou's colleagues said Djou has been calling council members on Lai's behalf.
Djou called his nearly eight years on the council "an amazing honor and privilege."
Djou's departure created some changes on council committee assignments.
Chiefly, Apo will take over as chairman of the Executive Matters & Legal Affairs Committee that Djou has led. The new assignments also allow Councilman Rod Tam to sit on committees again after he was stripped of all committee assignments following his censure in March.