The longtime leader of the company that runs TheBus, a former state senator and the one-time head of the pro-development think-tank Land Use Research Foundation are among a slate of nominees to Mayor-elect Rick Blangiardi’s Cabinet that his transition team announced today.
Aside from those three selections, the new administration will be comprised of what first-time government official Blangiardi promised: a team of people with diverse backgrounds that are largely unfamiliar to the public, including folks from the private sector who’ve never held a government job before mixed with some who have worked for government agencies. More than 400 individuals submitted resumes, the transition team said.
Several positions remain unfilled including corporation counsel and directors for the Department of Facility Maintenance and the Department of Human Resources. Deputy directors for the departments, as well as a communications director, have also yet to be made public.
Blangiardi will be sworn in at noon Saturday as required by the Honolulu City Charter and his Cabinet members will assume their posts at that point, although most department heads will still need to be confirmed by the City Council.
Aside from a smattering of retainees in less essential positions, however, the roster is largely devoid of holdovers from the Caldwell administration despite the fact that Managing Director-designate Michael Formby, Blangiardi’s second in command, was transportation services director under Caldwell from 2013 to 2016.
Among the more notable appointments is that of veteran Oahu Transit Services President and General Manager Roger Morton to lead the Department of Transportation Services. At DTS, Morton will be tasked with leading operations and maintenance for TheBus, Handivan and the upcoming rail system, the first leg of which is projected to open in the second half of 2021.
Morton has spent the last 15 years as president and general manager of OTS, a nonprofit corporation that holds the contract to operate TheBus and Handivan operations.
Former state Sen. Laura Thielen, who decided to forego a reelection bid this fall, will serve as Blangiardi’s parks and recreation director. While in the Legislature, Thielen chaired the Committee on Water and Land Development and later the Committee on Government Operations.
Prior to her two terms on the Senate representing Windward Oahu, Thielen chaired the state Board of Land and Natural Resources and, as a consequence, ran the Department of Land and Natural Resources under former Gov. Linda Lingle.
Sure to raise some eyebrows, at least among environmental and anti-growth interests, is the selection of Dean Uchida to head the Department of Planning and Permitting. Uchida is a senior manager with development consultant firm SSFM International.
Prior to that, Uchida was a local vice president of the development firm D.R. Horton where he was responsible for entitlements and government agreements for the company’s 11,750-home Hoopili project. Prior to that, he led the development sponsored Land Use Research Foundation and for many years was a land management agent for the DLNR.
Several other key positions are being filled by first-time government leaders who have extensive private business resumes.
The new deputy managing director, who will serve as the city’s third-in-command behind Blangiardi and Managing Director Michael Formby, is Danette Maruyama, who has been both the chief operating officer and chief commercial officer for Data House.
Prior to today, Formby was the only Cabinet member to be named by Blangiardi.
Andrew Kawano, who has been Foodland Supermarket’s director of facilities, is the new director of the Department of Budget and Fiscal Services. He is a board member for Hawaii Pacific Health, which operates the Straub and Kapiolani medical centers, where he has chaired the audit and compensation committees.
The new environmental services director, who is tasked with operating both the city’s solid waste and wastewater operations, is Wesley Yokoyama, currently chief of the Department of Environmental Services’ Wastewater Engineering and Construction Division.
Heading the Department of Customer Services, which runs the city’s licensing and satellite city hall operations among a host of other responsibilities, will be Nola Miyasaki, the former chief executive officer and executive director of the state Hawaii Technology Development Corp. and an attorney.
Sarah-Jane Allen, the chief procurement officer for the Hawaii State Procurement Office, has been tapped to head the Department of Community Services that is responsible for city social service programs including job training programs, elderly affairs and assistance for the disadvantaged.
Jerry Pupillo takes over as the city’s director of enterprise services, in charge of Blaisdell Center, Waikiki Shell and the city’s six golf courses. Pupillo has headed various recreational venues Oahu including Sea Life Park, Wet n Wild (formerly Hawaiian Adventures Water Park) and Kualoa Ranch.
Among the others:
> Alexander (Alex) Kozlov, director of the Department of Design and Construction. He is a retired U.S. Army brigadier general with the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers and is a licensed professional mechanical engineer.
> Dr. James Ireland, director of the Honolulu Emergency Services Department. Ireland held the position under Carlisle and, before that, with former Mayor Mufi Hannemann. The department includes the Emergency Medical Services as well as the Ocean Safety and Lifeguard Services Division.
> Scott Hayashi, director of the Department of Land Management. He is currently the department’s asset management administrator.
> Mark Wong, director of the Department of Information Technology. He is among the few Caldwell administration holdovers and has been at the job since 2013. Prior to that, he was chief executive officer of Hawaii-based Commercial Data Systems.
> Anton Krucky, executive director of the Office of Housing, which deals with affordable housing, senior housing, special needs housing and homelessness matters. He was most recently president and chief executive officer of Tissue Genesis Inc., a medical research institute, and prior to that was long-time general manager of IBM Corp. Pacific.
> Makanani Sala, executive director of the Mayor’s Office of Culture and the Arts. A kumu hula, Sala was previously an instructor in Hawaiian Studies at Windward Community College, and an event producer and cultural consultant.
> Lloyd Yonenaka, executive secretary of the Neighborhood Commission Office. Yonenaka previously was a senior account executive and vice president and Communications Pacific and the information and community relations officer for the Department of Hawaiian Home Lands. He also once worked with former Gov. Linda Lingle.
> Amy Asselbaye, executive director of the Office of Economic Revitalization. She is a holdover from the Caldwell administration. The office’s chief responsibility has been dealing with the impacts of the COVID-19 pandemic.
> Matthew Gonser, executive director of the Office of Climate Change, Sustainability and Resiliency. Gonser has been the coastal and water program manager for the office since 2017.
> Clarke Bright, Royal Hawaiian Band master, a holdover who has led the nation’s only municipal band the past 11 years.
> Dr. Masahiko Kobayashi, medical examiner, a holdover. Kobayashi was first confirmed in January 2020. A board-certified forensic pathologist, Kobayashi first joined the city as deputy medical examiner in 2012.