POSTED: 01:30 a.m. HST, Aug 15, 2012
Congressional candidate Tulsi Gabbard said she will decide by next week whether to resign her City Council seat in time for a successor to be elected at the general election, a move that would likely save the city as much as $150,000.
"I'm looking at my options now and my decision will be whatever is best for taxpayers. I hope to make the decision by next week at the latest," Gabbard said in a statement in response to a Star-Advertiser question.
Gabbard beat former Honolulu Mayor Mufi Hannemann on Saturday in the Democratic primary for the 2nd Congressional District. She will run against Republican Kawika Crowley, a self-employed handyman and painter from Hilo, in the general election.
Gabbard is halfway into a four-year term representing the Makiki-Downtown-Nuuanu district. She did not have to resign to run for Congress, and would return to the Council if she does not win on Nov. 6.
However, her resigning in time for a special Council election to be held in conjunction with the general election could save the city $120,000 to $150,000 in mailing costs for a separate special election, said Glen Takahashi, city election officer.
Recent mail-in special elections to fill Council vacancies created by the resignation of Todd Apo and the deaths of Duke Bainum and Barbara Marshall had costs in that range, Takahashi said.
Gabbard has a large advantage over Crowley in political experience, exposure and money. As of the end of July, Gabbard had raised nearly $1 million and benefited from $500,000 in campaign commercials and brochures sponsored by groups representing environmentalists, veterans and abortion rights advocates.
Crowley reported no money raised or spent in that period.
Under the law, if a Council member resigns 30 to 180 days before a primary or general election, a special election to fill the remainder of the term would be held in conjunction with the next regular election, Takahashi said.
That means Gabbard has until the first week of October to make a decision, Takahashi said. He said it would "very challenging" logistically because there would be a candidate filing period, and candidates' names would have to be added to the ballot in time for absentee ballots to go out.
If a Council member departs outside of the 30-to-180-day period, an independent special election must be held within 60 days.
The city opted to go with an all-mail election in the last three instances because it's cheaper.