Changing the vacancy selection process

LIHUE — Voters, one way or another, will have the final say when it comes to filling a vacancy on the Kauai County Council by weighing in on a proposed charter amendment that would change the current selection process. 

“It’s tough — we have a lot of good people out there who have served and who have not served who would make good council members — we all know that,” said Councilman Ross Kagawa. “I think this charter amendment will actually be one that I think the public will pay attention to, and we’ll see whether it goes up or down.” 

The proposal, introduced by Council Chair Jay Furfaro and Councilman Mel Rapozo, would allow the eighth-place County Council finisher from the previous general election to be appointed immediately to the seven-member board. 

If the eighth-place finisher is either not willing or unqualified to accept the appointment, the ninth-place finisher for council in the last general election would be appointed.

“This process shall continue until a willing and qualified candidate is appointed, or until exhaustion of all possibilities of council office candidates from the last general election at which council members were elected,” the proposed amendment reads.

If this process is unsuccessful within 30 days of the vacancy, the County Council would be charged with appointing a new member. That authority would then be given to the mayor, if the council is unable to make a decision within another 30 days.

The Kauai County Charter currently gives the County Council the initial authority to select a new member, if one dies while in office or resigns. That authority is then transferred to the mayor, if the County Council is unable to make a selection.

If the Kauai County Council approves the proposed charter amendment during their July 23 meeting, the question will be included on this year’s general election ballot. 

Written testimony can be sent to counciltestimony@kauai.gov.

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