HILO — The island’s newest County Council members are finding the job takes more time than they expected, and the three freshmen have mostly put aside their former occupations to channel their energy into their government work.
Two other council members continue to work their other jobs, while the remainder rely on investments, rental income, spousal support and retirement to supplement their $70,000 annual council salary, according to 2018 financial disclosure reports recently filed with the County Clerk’s Office.
Financial disclosure reports are required by the state constitution and county code. The intent is to create a layer of transparency to ensure public confidence in government and remind officials in cases where there’s a potential conflict of interest between their private dealings and public actions.
“Financial disclosure statements help to ensure transparency and accountability amongst government officials,” said Dan Gluck, director of the state Ethics Commission, which oversees ethics requirements for state officials. “These documents allow the public to see whether state official have any conflicts of interest and to ensure that elected officials are accountable to the public.”
Council members were required to file reports with the County Clerk’s Office within 20 working days after taking office, or Jan. 2, under the county code. Not all council members met that deadline and three didn’t file until after West Hawaii Today requested the records Jan. 29.
State lawmakers had until Friday to file their financial disclosures.
The state and county allow financial dealings to be reported as ranges, rather than the actual amount.
The three new council members all had full-time employment before taking office in early December. All but one of the nine council members own their own homes and most have various levels of investments and debt as reported in their financial disclosures.
“I’ve stepped away from all my clients and am working exclusively for the county of Hawaii now,” said Kona Councilwoman Rebecca Villegas.
Villegas, a marketing and events manager — whose former clients included Lanihau Center, Donkey Mill Art Center, and Bill Healy Foundation — made between $1,000 and $10,000 per client for most clients, with one client in the $10,000 to $50,000 range, according to her report filed Feb. 1.
The District 7 councilwoman paid $1,106 in property taxes last year on a residence with a market value of $373,400, according to county property tax records. Villegas owes between $100,000 and $300,000 on her mortgage, according to her financial disclosure.
Puna Councilwoman Ashley Kierkiewicz is devoting all her time to her government position as well.
“Being a council member is my sole focus,” she said. “I have no other jobs at this time.”
Kierkiewicz reported income between $10,000 and $50,000 as a public relations consultant with Hastings &Pleadwell and another $1,000-$10,000 with Destination Hilo in her financial disclosure filed Jan. 25. The District 4 councilwoman reported a slew of unpaid directorships on nonprofit boards and minimal debt.
She paid $1,106 in taxes last year on a residence with a market value of $280,200, according to county property tax records.
Puna Councilman Matthew Kanealii-Kleinfelder was pulling in between $50,000 and $100,000 as an electrician for Provision Solar and another $10,000-$50,000 as a bartender at his wife’s Liko Lehua restaurant before elected to the County Council, according to his financial disclosure filed Dec. 5.
“I was planning on working with Provision Solar one or two days a week but I’ve quickly realized I can’t,” Kanealii-Kleinfelder said. “I always wanted to keep my hands busy, but my new position as a community leader has taken priority. With a grain of salt, I was warned this would happen. I will be working my other jobs when my current position permits — which equates to practically never.”
The District 5 councilman paid $753 in property taxes on a residence with a market value of $219,700, according to county property tax records. He reported owing between $100,000 and $300,000 in mortgages.
Kohala Councilman Tim Richards has continued his veterinary practice into his second term. In addition, he has a variety of paid and unpaid positions on numerous boards and has ownership interests in family ranch holdings, according the report the District 9 councilman filed Jan. 31.
Richards reported income between $50,000 and $100,000 from a vacation rental and additional $50,000-$100,000 from his ownership interests in Waika Power LLC and Veterinary Associates Inc. He reported extensive stock ownership as well as a $10,000-$50,000 car loan and a $100,000-$300,000 mortgage.
Richards’ Animal Care Center had a market value of $247,100 and an annual property tax bill of $200, according to county property tax records. He rents his primary residence, according to a response to an email request for clarification.
Hilo Councilman Aaron Chung is the only attorney on the council. He reported earning between $50,0000 and $100,000 from his law firm on the financial disclosure he filed Dec. 20. He reported no debt and had some stock.
The District 2 councilman paid $1,760 in property taxes on a home with a market value of $799,500, according to county property tax records.
North Kona Councilwoman Karen Eoff also reported vacation rental income in her financial disclosure, which she filed Dec. 20. She reported between $10,000 and $50,000 in income from her rental condo, which has a market value of $118,500. She paid $1,455 in property taxes on the unit last year, according to county tax records.
The District 8 councilwoman paid $423 in property taxes on her residence, which has a market value of $258,500, according to county property tax records. Eoff reported a home equity loan between $10,000 and $50,000 and a car loan of less than $10,000.
She reported retirement income between $10,000 and $50,000 annually.
South Kona/Ka‘u Councilwoman Maile David reported no outside income other than retirement income between $1,000 and $10,000 in the financial disclosure she filed Dec. 17.
In real estate holdings, she listed her residence, valued at a market rate of $532,200, for which she paid $1,271 in property taxes, according to county property tax records. A second property, where she is listed as owner along with family members, had a market value of $363,100 and a tax last year of $638, according to tax records.
The District 6 council member reported owing a mortgage between $100,000 and $300,000 and a car loan between $1,000 and $10,000.
Two council members report their council salary as their only income.
Hilo Councilwoman Sue Lee Loy, District 3, paid $1,186 on a residence with a market value of $460,900, according to county property tax records. She reported a $50,000-$100,000 mortgage and a $10,000-$50,000 car loan on her Jan. 29 report.
Hamakua Councilwoman Valerie Poindexter, District 1, paid $1,855 in property taxes on her residence valued at $429,800, according to county property tax records. She listed no debts in her Dec. 26 financial disclosure.