Furfaro to be nominated for chairman position
by Nathan Eagle – THE GARDEN ISLAND
A deluge of felicitations momentarily supplanted a morning downpour yesterday at the Mo‘ikeha Building as Judge Randal Valenciano swore in Bill “Kaipo” Asing to temporarily fill the seat of the late Mayor Bryan Baptiste.
More than 100 friends, family members and government officials packed the rotunda to hear his first remarks as the island’s mayor for the next 137 days.
Enshrouded in lei, the long-time Kaua‘i County Council chair graciously accepted the new role “with the full sense of responsibility that comes with it.”
“Today is not about turning the page,” Asing said. “That is not what is called for now. … Everything and everybody that is in place will remain in place and together we will move forward.”
Three hours later at the Historic County Building, Asing sat in the back of Council Chambers and spectated as the seven-member legislative body decided who should fill his empty council seat.
Asing resigned from the council prior to the swearing-in ceremony.
As quickly as council members on July 7 chose Asing for mayor, they unanimously appointed former Councilman Daryl Kaneshiro to return to the table.
“I miss his easygoing attitude and calming effect on the council,” Councilwoman JoAnn Yukimura said in her comments supporting Kaneshiro’s nomination.
A credentials committee — comprised of council members Shaylene Iseri-Carvalho, Ron Kouchi and Jay Furfaro as chair — must first determine if Kaneshiro meets the requirements for the office.
The committee will announce its findings at 8:30 a.m., July 23. If approved as expected, Kaneshiro will be sworn in at that time.
Asing and the replacement council member will serve in their respective seats until Dec. 1 when candidates elected on Nov. 4 start their terms in office.
After nominating Kaneshiro, Kouchi said he intends to nominate Furfaro to assume Asing’s role as chair.
Officials said the council will schedule its reorganizational meeting, which also involves restructuring committees, after Councilman Tim Bynum, who was on the Mainland yesterday for personal reasons, returns to Kaua‘i.
Kaneshiro, who was absent from the special meeting yesterday, served as Finance Committee chair when he was on the council.
Kouchi said he sees Kaneshiro resuming that role, which Furfaro now holds, when the reorganization occurs.
Kaneshiro’s experience with tax reform and county audit issues make him a natural fit, Kouchi said.
Iseri-Carvalho and Yukimura said they, too, support Furfaro as council chair.
Councilman Mel Rapozo, who now serves as vice chair, said he did not want to seek the chairmanship because he is running for mayor.
Although there will be no administrative shake-up, Asing made it clear that he will be expressing his own views as mayor.
There will be “many crucial decisions,” he said, on issues ranging from tax reform to agricultural use.
In particular, he said, “the Hanalei boating situation will receive my immediate attention.”
Asing, who was born and raised in Ha‘ena, said he remains concerned about the activities happening on the North Shore and wants to see some resolution.
He did not offer insight into what shape this may take, but said, “It’s not going to be easy.”
Asing said there is so much work that needs to be done that even if no new initiatives come forward, the four and a half months he has in office will not be enough to complete it all.
KipuKai “Leslie” Kuali‘i, a county council candidate, said Asing is the “perfect person” to serve as interim mayor.
“I think of him as an uncle — with respect,” he said.
Baptiste’s administrative assistant, Gary Heu, has served as acting mayor since the unexpected death on June 22.
He opened the swearing-in ceremony by saying Baptiste “would not want us to bide our time” or “march in place.”
If anything, Baptiste would have wanted county officials “to do it faster,” Heu said.
Heu said he and Asing, who worked together for several years in the private sector, could not get much closer “unless he’s thinking of adopting me.”
He jokingly said that even making that comment was “a huge assumption” that Asing will keep him as his administrative aid.
Asing’s ability to do “what is reasonable” and effectively navigate through the “sometimes big areas of gray” will serve Kaua‘i well, Heu said.
Asing has said he will be seeking another term on the council, ending speculation that he would run for mayor in the upcoming election.
The filing deadline is Tuesday.
For more information, visit www.kauai.gov
• Nathan Eagle, staff writer, can be reached at 245-3681 (ext. 224) or email@example.com