Maligned Kaua‘i Police Chief K.C. Lum took out nomination papers to run for either mayor or a seat on the seven-member County Council yesterday.
Mayor Bryan Baptiste and the County Council asked Lum to resign recently amid claims of inadequate leadership.
Lum said he is running for public office because more and more people have come out to support him as government leaders continue to press for his resignation.
“We must bring this county government back to the point where it is of the people, by the people and for the people,” Lum said at the Elections Division office in the historic County Building. “The underground decision-making has to stop.”
Lum said becoming mayor or a councilman means “tricky politics will be out the door.”
Although Lum has been commended by the public for aggressive efforts in blunting drug sales and fighting crime on the island, the council contends he was not qualified for the job.
Lum said he is going to mull over which office to run for and will make a decision soon.
The filing deadline for public office seekers in this year’s election is 4:30 p.m. on July 25.
Lum said the steady stream of letters to The Garden Island supporting his continuation as police chief shows widespread backing for his candidacy.
“I have got unbelievable support from the people,” he said.
The county’s ethics board recently found the police chief selection process tainted and recommended that county finance director Michael Tresler terminate Lum’s contract, in accordance with the county charter.
Lum supporters read the charter differently and say a charter provision allows Tresler to terminate contracts for vendors only, not county employees. Tresler said he has the authority to carry out the wishes of the ethics board.
The council recently referred the recommendation to Tresler for action, and also referred another recommendation from the ethics board to the county attorney’s office to impose sanctions against Lum.
Mary Daubert, the county’s public information officer, said Lum’s contract was still intact.
State law requires Lum to step down from his current job if he is elected to public office this year.
Lum said he doesn’t anticipate any problems if elected to the council and is committed to working with council members, including those who want him removed as police chief.
“We are going to be working in conjunction with the council members, whoever they are,” Lum said.
Residents Glenn Mickens and Richard Stauber, who met with Lum during a break in the coucnil meeting, came out in support.
Mickens said the county has a lot to lose if Lum wins an elected seat, either on the council or as the mayor.
“I would hate to lose the best police chief we have ever had,” Mickens said.
But it’s a price he’s willing to pay.
“Proactively, I think he is doing the right thing,” Mickens said.
“K.C. is the person who would really represent the people,” Stauber said.
To date, only John Hoff and Jesse Fukushima, a former member of the Kaua‘i County Council, have filed nomination papers for mayor.
• Lester Chang, staff writer, can be reached at 245-3681 (ext. 225) and lchang@ kauaipubco.com.