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Hawaii News

Special election needed for mayor

With a vacancy in the mayor’s office created by Mufi Hannemann’s resignation to run for governor, the City Council has scheduled a meeting tomorrow to set the date of a special election to fill the final two years of his term.

Hannemann, as required by law, submitted his resignation to the City Clerk’s Office yesterday, about two hours before he arrived at the state Office of Elections to file his paperwork to run for governor.

"On the one hand, I’m really looking forward to this mission to be the governor of the state of Hawaii," Hannemann said. "On the other hand, I’ve left behind a wonderful group of men and women who have helped me put this city in a better place than it was five years ago."

Under the City Charter, the transfer of power to the city’s managing director occurs automatically upon the mayor’s resignation.

Managing Director Kirk Caldwell will serve as acting mayor until a winner-take-all special election can be held to fill the remaining two years on Hannemann’s term.

In addition to Caldwell, others seeking to fill the two-year vacancy are city Prosecutor Peter Carlisle, City Councilman Donovan Dela Cruz, University of Hawaii engineering professor Panos Prevedouros and City Councilman Rod Tam.

The special election was expected to be held in conjunction with the Sept. 18 primary, but Council members plan to at least discuss the possibility of delaying the vote until the Nov. 2 general election.

Resolutions to discuss both options are on tomorrow’s agenda.

Council Chairman Todd Apo said he prefers to fill the vacancy as soon as possible, but the proposed resolution for a November vote was done at the request of a Council member.

"You could have the argument that the candidates need more time to let people know who they are and where they are on issues," Apo said, but noted that if the special election were held in September, "I think there’s sufficient time."

If the date were set for September, candidates would have until July 30 to file for the office. The filing deadline would be Aug. 5 for a November vote.

Carlisle, because there are two years remaining on his prosecutor’s term, would have to resign that office to run for mayor. Council members, in expectation of Carlisle’s resignation, plan to also discuss tomorrow the date and candidate filing deadline for that opening.

Dela Cruz and Tam, because their terms expire this year, will not be required to resign, Apo said.

"There is a corporation counsel opinion saying they don’t have to resign, which is actually different than what the position has been in the past," Apo said. "I don’t know what caused that change."

Council terms expire at the start of 2011, so if either wins, the remaining Council members would have to go through the appointment process to fill the vacancy until then.


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