Kauai’s first mayor and county council installed in office

On Thursday, Jan. 2, 1969, Kauai’s first mayor, Antone Kona Vidinha, and its first county council, comprised of Ralph Hirota, Masao Seto, Shigeomi Kubota, Louie Gonsalves, Raymond Souza, Joe Shiramizo and Tony Arzadon, were sworn in to replace the Board of Supervisors form of government in place on Kauai since 1906.

A year before, in 1905, the territorial government had enacted legislation allowing for the creation of five county governments within the Territory of Hawaii — one each for Kauai, Oahu, Maui, Hawaii and Kalawao counties.

Thereafter, local elections were held to choose the five boards of supervisors that would govern each of the five counties. On Kauai, the Board of Supervisors consisted of five members.

Earlier, between 1898 — when the United States annexed the Hawaiian Islands and Hawaii embarked upon its 61-year history as a territory of the United States — and 1905, no island-level governmental organizations existed in the Islands. The governance of Hawaii was carried on in Honolulu at the territorial level.

Even earlier, from 1894 to 1898, during the years when Hawaii was governed by the Republic of Hawaii, island-level governments were likewise non-existent.

The same applies to the one-year period of the Provisional Government (1893-1894) that succeeded the Kingdom of Hawaii, following Queen Liliuokalani’s overthrow in 1893.

During Liliuokalani’s reign (1891-1893), the administrative affairs of the Islands were presided over by the Privy Council, the Minister of the Interior, and four Governors — one for Hawaii, one for Maui and adjacent islands, one for Oahu, and one for Kauai and Niihau.

Kauai Judge Benjamin Tashiro administered oaths of office to Mayor Vidinha and the Kauai County Council. Afterwards, the Council met for its first session in the County Building, with Mayor Vidinha present.

Also in attendance at this inaugural meeting were Deputy County Clerk Tatsuo Kato, Administrative Assistant Tad Miura and Clerk Gilbert Carvalho.

Later that day, Mayor Vidinha appointed Francis Ching to the Police Commission. Ching would become Kauai’s second mayor in 1972.

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