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Garcia now leads Council


City Councilman Nestor Garcia took the reins of the City Council yesterday, ascending to chairman upon the resignation of Todd Apo, who has taken a job with Walt Disney Parks and Resorts in Hawaii.

Apo’s resignation, announced in August, sets up a special election to fill the remainder of the term, which expires Jan. 2, 2013. The all-mail election is scheduled to conclude Dec. 29, and the deadline to file nomination papers with the City Clerk’s Office to run for the seat is Nov. 19.

Among those who have announced plans to run is former Republican state Rep. Bob McDermott, who served three terms in the state House until 2002, when he ran for Congress. He lost that year to U.S. Rep. Patsy Mink, who died two days after the last day to have her name removed from the general election ballot. Ed Case won a special election to complete Mink’s term.

City Clerk Bernice Mau did not have an estimate yesterday on the cost to fill Apo’s seat. The district has about 46,000 registered voters, she said, about 1,000 fewer than in District 5 (Kaimuki to Makiki), where a special mail-in election cost about $170,000 last year.

A special election is required because there is more than a year left on Apo’s term.

Also yesterday, the Council swore in Reed Matsuura to fill the vacancy created by last week’s resignation of Donovan Dela Cruz, who was elected to the state Senate. Matsuura, an aide to Dela Cruz, fills the remainder of the term, which expires Jan. 2.

Acting City Community Services Director Ernie Martin won the election to fill Dela Cruz’s seat.

Apo stepped down to become public affairs manager for Disney Parks and Resorts in Hawaii. The company is scheduled to open its Aulani resort at Ko Olina in August. After his formal resignation, remaining Council members unanimously approved a resolution naming Garcia as chairman, with Councilman Ikaika Anderson as vice chairman and Councilman Lee Donohue as floor leader.

A reorganization in leadership is likely in January, when Apo’s successor and four other new members elected last week join the Council.

Meanwhile, the vetting of Mayor Peter Carlisle’s Cabinet begins today, with committee hearings for David Tanoue as director of planning and permitting and Tim Steinberger as director of environmental services.

Both were part of Mayor Mufi Hannemann’s Cabinet and are among four officials being appointed to positions by Carlisle.

About a dozen people testified against Tanoue’s appointment yesterday, objecting to the city’s handling of a proposed development for the Koolauloa area north of Brigham Young University-Hawaii.

When the "Envision Laie" plan was unveiled last month, members of the area’s Planning Advisory Committee said Tanoue had met with them and said the plan was moving forward after he had met with representatives of BYUH and Hawaii Reserves Inc., which manages and owns property affiliated with the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints. Opponents criticized the lack of transparency to the process.

"We’re not opposed to all development," said Tim Vandeveer of Defend Oahu Coalition. "But what this does, in effect, by meeting behind closed doors with development interests, is subvert the process, and it disenfranchises members of the community."

Tanoue did not speak at yesterday’s meeting. He is expected to appear before committee members today.


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