So much for the Hawaii County Council holding Jamae Kawauchi’s feet to the fire?
Hawaii County Councilman Dennis Onishi yesterday asked Council Chair Dominic Yagong to add a resolution to the next council meeting’s agenda urging Kawauchi to hire an independent and experienced elections administrator in time for the November general election.
The Hawaii County clerk has been severely criticized for her handling of the primary election.
But Yagong last night denied the request, saying that the council is attempting to get former Big Island elections administrator Pat Nakamoto off of administrative leave. Kawauchi fired Nakamoto in January, a move that garnered much criticism. Kawauchi will be meeting with Nakamoto Sept. 5, Yagong wrote in an email to Onishi.
In his resolution, Onishi stated that hiring an administrator who has had five to 15 years of experience in elections administration is necessary to ensure a “smooth running” 2012 general election. He cited the series of irregularities that occurred on primary day, including the late delivery of elections materials, failed communications and equipment problems.
Yagong responded, “It may appear that you are pressuring her to return by the threat of hiring someone for the position that she holds title to. I’m sure that is not your true intentions, but the perception would be there…”
Onishi first told Civil Beat of his intention to draft a resolution last Wednesday, when Kawauchi was the only county clerk absent from an Elections Commission meeting. But upon hearing that Kawauchi had agreed to participate in several problem-solving workshops with the other county clerks and state elections officials, Onishi decided to hold back on the resolution.
“I could see that they were mending their relationship,” he said.
But then Onishi heard that Kawauchi this Monday was a no-show at a voting equipment debriefing. Hawaii County was the only county not to send representatives to the gathering. Kawauchi explained that she had already been debriefed on the machines.
Onishi didn’t buy it: “Ms. Kawauchi had no experience, no training of how to utilize those machines…She has to hear what problems were encountered by the other counties,” he said. “She’s new to this. It’s always good to be involved. She wants to be isolated, she wants to have her own briefings, her own meeting with certain people. She’s more of an individualist. And that’s where it’s wrong.”
Problem is, Onishi (pictured below) seems to be on his own on this issue.
— Alia Wong