Longtime Kaua’i County Councilman Kaipo Asing was unanimously selected as the chairman of the new council during a organizational meeting of the body Wednesday.
The new council is set to be sworn into office on Monday, Dec. 2.
By a secret ballot count, incumbent councilman James Tokioka won by 4-3 vote. The selection of the new chairman also was done by secret ballot, a process decided upon by a majority vote of the new council.
Tokioka nominated Asing to the council’s top post and incumbent councilman Daryl Kaneshiro supported the nomination.
During the meeting at the historic County Building, councilwoman-elect JoAnn Yukimura also voiced interest in the post, but decided not to go for it out of respect for Asing’s political experience and leadership.
“I would welcome serving under your leadership,” Yukimura told Asing, who has served on the council for a total of 20 years.
Yukimura was the top vote-getter in the general election held Nov. 5. She is a former mayor and veteran member of the council.
Councilmembers chose Tokioka over Yukimura in the vote on the vice-chair position.
In running for the vice chair’s position, Yukimura said she qualified for the post because of her many years of political experience and leadership.
These two assets, she said, would help to steer the council down a path that would benefit Kauaians. Yukimura also noted that she had been a member of the Hawaii State Association of Counties.
“I can see a large picture and am attentive to the process,” she said. Yukimura also said she also welcomes opposing viewpoints in any political debate and that once she sets goals, she works toward reaching them.
Tokioka said he also has developed political experience and acumen during three terms on the council and that he was qualified to be the vice chair. He also was a member of HSAC and the National Association of Counties.
Asing, however, voiced his support for Yukimura to take the vice-chairmanship, saying he has known her for many years and has worked with her on community projects and council business.
But Asing and Yukimura disputed the way the vote was carried out in the selection of the chairmanship. Asing voiced his preference for a vote by secret ballot and Yukimura voiced her preference for a open vote.
Yukimura said because the organizational meeting of the council was open to the public, the public had a right to know how individual council members voted and their reasons for their vote.
“It is very incongruous to have secret ballots,” she said. The council was selecting leaders to run it for the next two years, and so “it (open voting by the council ) should be an open process,” Yukimura said.
She contended the secret ballot voting could be construed as an effort by the council to hide something. ” I am not sure what we have to hide. I feel we should all be accountable,” Yukimura said.
Kaneshiro said it seemed to him that finding how each council member voted was a “moot point” because support for Asing was unanimous.
“I don’t see a need for it (open ballot voting), and that is where I am coming from,” Asing said. “You either have the vote, or you don’t have the vote.”
Also to be taken up at the meeting was the chairmanship, vice chairmanship and membership makeup for the council’s finance/intergovernmental relations committee, community assistance committee, energy and public safety committee, parks committee, planing committee and the committee of the whole.
Staff writer Lester Chang can be reached at 245-3681 (ext. 225) and mailto:firstname.lastname@example.org