Honolulu Council Chair resigns two years early

Council Chair Todd Apo
Council Chair Todd Apo
Councilwoman Ann Kobayashi
Councilwoman Ann Kobayashi
Councilman Ikaika Anderson
Councilman Ikaika Anderson

By Tim Sakahara - bio | email

HONOLULU (HawaiiNewsNow) - The Honolulu City Council is getting shaken up again.  The council chair announced he's leaving his office early which means the city will replace its fourth member in less than a year and a half.  The city recently held special elections for the late Barbara Marshall and Duke Bainum.  It also appointed a replacement for Charles Djou after he won the race for Congress.  Now Todd Apo is stepping down to work for Mickey Mouse.

"It's a great opportunity personally I'll admit that," said Todd Apo, Honolulu City Councilmember since 2004.

Apo will be the director of public affairs Hawaii for Aulani, the new Disney resort in Ko Olina.  Since the resort plans to open next August, he says the job wouldn't wait two more years when his term ends.  Still he doesn't feel like he's abandoning his voters.

"We all knew these jobs aren't permanent.  We're term limited and it was going to end at some point and I think whenever you leave office there are going to be things that aren't done," said Apo.  "It's been fun to work with overall, not to say it hasn't been challenging at times, not to say we haven't had our differences, but that's part of government."

"I'm extremely surprised that the chair would step down at this point but I do respect his decision," said Ikaika Anderson, Councilman representing Windward Oahu.

"It will be a great loss for the city," said Ann Kobayashi, Councilwoman representing Manoa, Kakaako, Moiliili.

Apo's resignation now means five of the nine council members and the mayor will all be new come January and new faces could mean new perspectives on various issues, including rail.

"As you talked about rail well maybe we can have that elevated, we'll see what happens where does it go, do we condemn the lands we were going to condemn before," said Kobayashi.

"I think whoever comes in to replace me needs to be a strong supporter of rail. If you're going to represent West Oahu, and we all look at the traffic that's been going on since school started up again, you need to be a supporter of mass transit system that is going to bring traffic relief to West Oahu," said Apo.

Apo will officially resign November 8th.  Then the city will have 10 days to call for an election and another 10 days for candidates to come forward and file nomination papers.  In total the city has 60 days to elect his replacement.  Marshall's special election cost $225,000. Bainum's was about $175,000.  Apo's special election is estimated to be in that range.  Some Leeward Oahu voters don't mind the cost if the new person fights for west side issues.

"It will probably be someone with an agenda who wants to get something done hopefully in this area," said Joe Collins, Makakilo Resident.

Apo still plans to stay active in the community but now that he's working for Disney, the happiest place on Earth, would he ever come back to politics?

"I've learned never to say never," said Apo.

Apo says he's waiting until November to resign in order to have a smooth transition in the special election.  It will also give candidates more time to organize.

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