Female lawyers dominate county attorney’s offices

LIHU’E – A woman’s place is in the county attorney’s office, apparently, for at least the next four years.

Attorney by trade and County Councilmember by popular vote JoAnn Yukimura pointed out on the floor of her first council meeting in some years that all but one of the lawyers in the Office of the County Attorney is female.

Galen Nakamura is in one-man’s land as the sole male deputy to Lani Hiyane Nakazawa, who was sworn in as county attorney during ceremonies yesterday at the Kauai War Memorial Convention Hall here.

Amy Esaki is first deputy, and other deputy county attorneys are Laurel Loo, Margaret Hanson and Ladye Martin.

The nearly-all-female staff of attorneys represents a women’s “day in the sun,” Yukimura said during discussion on council confirmation of Mayor Bryan Baptiste’s selection of Nakazawa as county attorney.

Yukimura and Nakazawa, daughter of Mr. and Mrs. George Hiyane of Kapa’a, were law-school classmates. Both were born and raised on Kaua’i.

The first formal meeting of the new council was called to order by Baptiste, among his first official duties as mayor. Then, Judge George Masuoka administered the oath of office to Councilmembers Kaipo Asing, Jay Furfaro, Daryl Kaneshiro, Joe Munechika, Mel Rapozo, Jimmy Tokioka and Yukimura.

Councilmembers then made official by consecutive unanimous votes their choices of Asing as chair, and Tokioka as vice chair.

Yukimura said she lobbied to be council vice chair, but in the spirit of unity decided to support Tokioka, “who I know will do a good job.”

Peter Nakamura was re-appointed county clerk by the council, and he re-appointed Ernesto G. “Ernie” Pasion deputy county clerk, after which Masuoka administered their oaths of office.

Earlier, Masuoka administered a mass oath of office to the various Baptiste appointees who didn’t require council confirmation to take office yesterday.

All of the Baptiste appointments which required council confirmation, including Bernard Carvalho, Jr. as director of the Offices of Community Assistance, were confirmed by unanimous votes of the council in a 20-minute meeting.

Carvalho is “a well-respected, dedicated county employee,” and it is good to see him able to use his leadership skills as a department head, Yukimura said.

Kaua’i is still without a county engineer. Someone close to Baptiste said he thought there had been no applicants for the position that pays $67,000 a year and requires the applicant to be a registered engineer in Hawai’i.

Last week, Baptiste said he would probably be inaugurated before he could find a county engineer, for he has had no success trying to lure qualified engineers away from jobs that pay $20,000 to $30,000 more than the county position pays.

Staff Writer Paul C. Curtis can be reached at mailto:pcurtis@pulitzer.net or 245-3681 (ext. 224).

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