Mayoral succession meeting to come after memorial service

The Kaua’i County Council is expected to hold a special meeting during the week after Mayor Bryan Baptiste’s July 6 memorial service to vote on the appointment of a council member to serve as mayor, a county news release states.

A team of county officials has been meeting this week to discuss succession issues. The team includes acting Mayor Gary Heu, County Council Chair Bill “Kaipo” Asing, County Attorney Matthew Pyun, County Clerk Peter Nakamura and staff.

Other council members have not been directly involved in the discussions.

Although no date has been set, the special meeting could take place as early as the week of July 7. The council will post notice of the meeting six days before it is set to comply with the Sunshine Law.

Asing said he recognizes that although the county is operating normally under Heu, there is a level of anxiety in the community over the succession.

“The sooner we can get this done, the better for everybody,” Asing said.

Heu said the administration will do all it can to support an orderly transfer.

“The county administration and employees are still coping with the sudden loss of the mayor while ensuring that services remain available to the public and operations continue as smoothly as possible,” he said. “We are committed to working with the council to ensure an orderly transition and to support the new mayor once he or she assumes the position.”

Council members are charged, under the county charter, with selecting one council member to serve as mayor. A majority — four of the council’s seven members — is required to select the new mayor.

The council member selected would have all the powers of mayor and would no longer be a member of the council upon being sworn in as mayor.

After the new mayor is sworn in, the council under guidance of the charter would schedule a special meeting to fill the resulting vacancy on the council. Four of the six remaining council members must agree on the selection.

If after 30 days the council is unable to fill the position, the new mayor would make the selection.

The appointed mayor would serve an abbreviated term, until Dec. 1, 2008, when an elected mayor will be seated to serve the final two years of Baptiste’s term.

Details regarding the mayoral election are still under discussion and should be released shortly, the news release states.

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