Poindexter voted council chairwoman

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HILO — With four new members starting next month, the Hawaii County Council has chosen a new leader.

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HILO — With four new members starting next month, the Hawaii County Council has chosen a new leader.

Hamakua Councilwoman Valerie Poindexter was voted chairwoman and North Kona Councilwoman Karen Eoff was chosen vice chairwoman, Poindexter said late Tuesday.

“I think we have a very well-rounded, very well-balanced council,” Poindexter said. “My job as chair is to help the council as a whole maintain a good healthy working relationship within the council and with the mayor and his administration.”

Poindexter, the current vice chairwoman of the council, said she’s already talked with Mayor-elect Harry Kim and said she told him, “my style is to throw everything on the table with no hidden agenda.”

Most re-elected and incoming members met at Poindexter’s home Sunday to work out the council organization. The state Sunshine Law allows two or more board members, but less than the number of members that would constitute a quorum — or voting majority of the board — to discuss between themselves the selection of the board’s officers. Incoming members don’t count toward a quorum and one wasn’t formed on Sunday.

For the first time, the council is super-majority female, with six women and three men in the legislative body.

“This is the first time in the history of Hawaii Island that women make up a super majority of the council. I think it is very appropriate that a woman be named as chair of this council,” Eoff said. “But more importantly is that the new council includes nine civic-minded individuals, each having a lot to offer, who want to work together to make our communities healthy and safe. I would be honored to serve as the vice chair of the council.”

The new council will be inaugurated Dec. 5 for the two-year term and will vote on the new slate at its first meeting at 3 p.m. that day.

New members are District 2 Hilo Councilwoman Susan Lee Loy, District 5 Puna Councilwoman Jen Ruggles, District 4 Puna Councilwoman Eileen O’Hara and District 9 Kohala Councilman Tim Richards.

Richards was named chairman of the Agriculture, Water and Energy Sustainability Committee and O’Hara will chair the Environmental Management Committee.

District 6 South Kona/Ka‘u Councilwoman Maile David will chair the Finance Committee and Human Services and Social Services Committee. District 7 Kona Councilman and current council Chairman Dru Kanuha will chair the Governmental Relations and Economic Development Committee and serve as the council’s representative to the Hawaii State Association of Counties.

Eoff, in addition to serving as the council vice chairwoman, will chair the Planning Committee.

Ruggles will chair the Public Safety and Mass Transit Committee and the Public Works and Parks and Recreation Committee.

Hilo Councilman Aaron Chung and Lee Loy, the other Hilo representative, are the only two members not receiving chairmanships. Lee Loy was named vice chairwoman of one committee, Human Services and Social Services.

Chung had two reasons for not seeking a chairmanship.

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When he was previously on the council, he’d served eight years as Finance chairman, and he wanted to free up chairmanships this go-around so some of the newer members could get the experience.

“Second, on a more basic level, I do not share the ideology of the incoming five person majority,” he said, “and feel uncomfortable in signing on with them until I see that their vision for the island is one that I share.”

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