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Hawaii island Council chairman won't remove county clerk

By Derrick DePledge

and Gregg K. Kakesako

LAST UPDATED: 1:34 a.m. HST, Aug 21, 2012

Hawaii County Council Chairman Dominic Yagong said Monday that he would not remove County Clerk Jamae Kawauchi, who was harshly criticized by the state Office of Elections as an ineffective leader after more than a dozen precincts opened late for the primary.

After a special Council meeting in Hilo to review the primary, Yagong said the problems were the result of “human error.” He said he has asked that he and the clerk meet with Lt. Gov. Brian Schatz, the Office of Elections and the state Attorney General’s Office on how best to prepare for the November general election.

“The main thing that came out of the meeting was for us to come up with processes to make sure that these errors do not occur for the general election,” said Yagong, who appointed and supervises Kawauchi.

Councilman Dennis “Fresh” Onishi, who raised red flags about the county’s preparations before the election Aug. 11, said Yagong as chairman controls the majority on the council. But he said he would replace Kawauchi if he had the power.

“She’s not taking the responsibility, so if I did have the power, yes, I would be looking at replacing her,” he said.

The embattled clerk on Monday asked for Schatz to oversee the general election because she contends the Office of Elections has not taken responsibility for “serious mishaps” during the primary, but Schatz suggested that she was “blame-shifting.”

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