Djou DC bound, council seeks replacement - Hawaii News Now - KGMB and KHNL

Djou DC bound, council seeks replacement

Representative-elect Charles Djou Representative-elect Charles Djou
Council Chair Todd Apo Council Chair Todd Apo
Jeremy Low Jeremy Low
Djou family at Honolulu International Airport Djou family at Honolulu International Airport

By Tim Sakahara - bio | email

HONOLULU (HawaiiNewsNow) - Congressman Elect Charles Djou is on his way to Washington DC.  He and his family left Honolulu International late this afternoon.  Djou won the special election to fill Neil Abercrombie's seat in the First District.  He could be sworn in as early as tomorrow 10:00 a.m. Hawaii time, depending on the Speaker of the House Nancy Pelosi's schedule.  

Djou says since winning Saturday night he has traded voice mails with Abercrombie and fellow Hawaii Congressional Representative Mazie Hirono who offered their congratulations.

"Best wishes, good luck, Congressman Abercrombie did mention he has a unique vantage point that he himself had a special election to take his seat initially and he knows firsthand how challenging it can be to get up to speed very, very quickly," said Djou from Honolulu Hale.

He will be only the third Republican to represent Hawaii in Congress after statehood, after Senator Hiram Fong and Representative Pat Saiki.

When Djou is officially sworn in, his resignation from the Honolulu City Council takes effect.

"Today is I guess a little bit bitter sweet. This is the last time I will be entering this well here at the Honolulu City Council chamber as a member of the Honolulu City Council," said Djou.

Djou's term in Congress ends in January.  He could vote on key issues such as the budget, immigration reform and loosening tourist visa programs which he says is important to Hawaii.

Djou's departure means people in East Oahu should get their resume's ready.  The city council is now accepting applications to become the next member of city council.

It's an opening unlike any other.  Applicants should work well with others and have financial knowledge.  It pays about $30,000 for seven months of work.  Of course you'll represent the voice of more than 100,000 people.

"This is the formal call out for anyone replacing Charles Djou as Councilmember," said Todd Apo, Honolulu City Council Chair.

A candidate only needs to live in district four, which covers most of East Oahu.  Names and resumes should be submitted to the Apo's office by June 1.  Since there is less than a year left in the term it will not go to a vote of the people, instead the eight remaining city council members, who do not live in the district, will appoint the person who will represent it.

"We're sort of going to feel our way through the process," said Apo. "It's going to be an interesting process."

They have 30 days to make the selection, however the only full council meeting in that time is June 9th and that's the day they will debate and appoint the new member.

"Assuming we make that decision at the beginning of the meeting the person would be sworn in and have a seat and start voting on things that day," said Apo.

That literally means the person could go from being a regular Joe in the morning, to voting on the city's $1.8 billion city budget in the afternoon.

"I don't care how much fiscal background you have you are not going to get your arms around the entire budget and vote on it two or three hours later," said Apo. "I wouldn't fault that person at all to recuse myself I can't participate in this decision because I haven't had the chance to do that."

Jeremy Low already has his political signs.  He planned to run for the office in the fall anyway and will seek the interim role as well.  He says he's a fiscal conservative and he fits the district best.  He also admits he would likely recuse himself when it comes to voting on the budget the same day as taking office.

"You don't want to give up your responsibility but I think in that kind of situation it would be very hard to do a responsible vote," said Low.

Because the replacement is not being elected by the people Djou wants applicants to agree not to run for the full term in the fall because it could give them an unfair advantage.

"It is my hope that whoever replaces me makes a very clear commitment that they not seek any political office in the fall," said Djou.

However there is no law addressing that and it will be up to the individual council members to take that into consideration.

Djou also recommended attorney Jonathan Lai for the post.  He is interested in the interim post but would not seek the full term.  Lai is a friend of Djou's since 7th grade.

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