Most of Honolulu’s city council has been sworn in, but one seat is still open (technically)

The new Honolulu City Council was sworn in Wednesday with just eight of nine members and no...
The new Honolulu City Council was sworn in Wednesday with just eight of nine members and no leader.(Hawaii News Now)
Published: Jan. 2, 2019 at 8:30 PM HST
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HONOLULU (HawaiiNewsNow) - The new Honolulu City Council was sworn in Wednesday with just eight of nine members and no leader.

That's because the Hawaii Supreme Court is still reviewing Trevor Ozawa's 22-vote victory over opponent Tommy Waters.

Until the court rules, Ozawa's election cannot be certified, so that council seat will remain empty for now.

"It's pretty surprising. The timeliness of this dragging on through the inauguration ceremony," Ozawa said.

Inauguration day was supposed to be a big day for Ozawa.

He was expecting to be sworn in for a second term, then elected council chair.

But instead, he says he and his staff are now in limbo.

"As of 12 o'clock noon (Wednesday), my staff and myself are technically not representing City Council District 4. We're going to continue to volunteer, stay on and help out however we can in our capacity," said Ozawa.

With permission from his colleagues, Ozawa and his family sat at his desk during the inauguration and participated in some of the ceremony.

Council members decided to put official business on hold and go into recess for the next six days, in hopes the court will make a decision by then.

"It's an unfortunate issue that came up and the timeliness of it was a little difficult to overcome, so I think the fairest thing was to recess and come back together at a later time," said councilwoman Heidi Tsuneyoshi.

"As mayor, I have no problem. From time to time, there are councilmembers that are absent, traveling, but they make great decisions and we all work together," said Honolulu Mayor Kirk Caldwell.

The complaints were filed by Waters and a group of East Honolulu voters.

Election officials have responded to the court's questions, and Wednesday afternoon, the court granted Waters' until 4:30pm Friday to file a response.

"If it drags out any further, than there's a possibility that the council might decide to elect a temporary leadership slate so we can proceed with our business in the coming weeks," said councilman Ron Menor.

Ozawa says he respects the process, but hopes this case will be investigated.

“Why did this happen? Why was it that things were asked at the very last minute? The petitioners have not provided any proveable evidence of fraud, mistakes, errors, and quite frankly, are trying to go on a fishing expedition here,” Ozawa said.

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