Councilman Trevor Ozawa may not be sworn in for his new term Wednesday
City Council members and their aides on Monday were trying to figure out ways to deal with the possibility that Councilman Trevor Ozawa may not be sworn in for a new term on Wednesday, the same day he had been expected to be voted Council chairman by his colleagues.
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City Council members and their aides on Monday were trying to figure out ways to deal with the
possibility that Councilman Trevor Ozawa may not
be sworn in for a new term on Wednesday, the same day he had been expected to be voted Council chairman by his colleagues.
In an unprecedented move, the Hawaii Supreme Court late Friday issued
orders requiring state
and city election officials
to answer questions raised in complaints by former state Rep. Tommy Waters and a group of East Honolulu voters about Ozawa’s 22-vote victory over Waters in November’s general
Waters and his supporters questioned the margin of error for electronic vote counting machines and
the procedures used to
determine the “intent of certain voters in close
In a 36-page response to the court Monday, state Elections Administrator Scott Nago detailed his
office’s method of verifying results through a manual audit team that audits
computer-generated results through a hand-count of physical ballots.
Nago said his office does not believe there is a “margin of error.”
It was uncertain Monday if Nago’s response will clear the way for the certification of the results showing Ozawa as the winner by noon Wednesday, when Council members are
required by the Honolulu City Charter to gather, have its newly elected members sworn in and then select a new chairman and vice chairman.
A spokeswoman for the state Judiciary said Chief Justice Mark Recktenwald will not be administering the oath of office for Council members as originally scheduled “because of the matters still pending
before the Supreme Court.” Instead, a judge not on the
Supreme Court will administer the oath, Judiciary spokeswoman Jan Kagehiro said.
Ozawa and three other Council members on
Thursday introduced Resolution 18-294, which calls for Ozawa to be the new City Council chairman and Kymberly Pine, the current vice chairman, to continue in that role. Ozawa and
Pine had been viewed as the two most likely members to lead the new makeup of the nine-person Council.
With Council Chairman Ernie Martin leaving the Council Wednesday, Pine will open Wednesday’s meeting before she and her colleagues choose a new leader.
She may be asked to hold onto the gavel at least a little while longer.
Several Council members said Monday one of the options may be for Pine to simply remain as temporary chairperson until the situation involving the
Ozawa-Waters election is
Another possibility is that the Council, minus Ozawa, picks someone other than Pine to be
One possibility might
be Councilwoman Ann
Kobayashi, who has more years as a Council member than her colleagues, having served in two different eras.
“There are multiple
scenarios we are looking at,” Pine said. “The important thing I’m focusing on is ensuring that the work of the people continues but we have to wait for the Supreme Court to rule and that’s nothing we can control.”
Pine said her preference is for a vote on a permanent chairman to take place only when there
are nine Council members in place “so every district has a representative when we’re choosing the leaders of the Council.”
Councilman Brandon Elefante said the situation is unsettling, noting that without leadership in place, committee assignments and a meeting schedule for 2019 have
yet to be decided.
Councilman Joey Manahan said the situation makes it clear there
needs to be a state law
requiring an automatic hand recount “if an election falls within the margin of error of the voting machines.”
The state Senate last year passed a bill requiring recounts in close elections. But the bill died in the House.
Ozawa, in a written statement, said that
after reading the elections office’s filings, “I have full faith and confidence that the Hawai‘i Office of
Elections correctly and
accurately declared me District IV’s Councilmember-elect.”
He said he is hopeful the court “will make a swift and fair decision
dismissing the pending protests.”
Waters could not be reached Monday.