HILO — Wil Okabe, Mayor Harry Kim’s managing director and right-hand man, is resigning effective Nov. 30.
Okabe’s resignation brings the executive turnover to half of the dozen top department heads that started Kim’s mayoral term with him in 2016.
“It’s not easy working for Harry Kim — I know that,” Kim said in a Monday morning interview. “He’s not the first. People have given me more than the time I’ve asked, and I appreciate it.”
Kim said he’s asked Executive Assistant Roy Takemoto to take on some of Okabe’s responsibilities while Kim looks for a replacement.
“I’m looking at names right now,” he said. “He’s retiring and I’ve accepted that and I wish him well.”
It’s an important position, and at $153,612 annually, commands the second-highest salary in county government, just behind the mayor.
According to the county charter, the managing director acts as mayor during the mayor’s absence and completes the term of the office if it becomes vacant after the filing deadline for the next primary election.
The managing director also supervises the administrative functioning of all agencies, departments, boards and commissions, recommends the annual operating and capital improvement budgets and monitors the management and performance of each executive agency.
A replacement, once selected, will face a confirmation vote by the County Council.
Okabe, who previously served as Gov. David Ige’s East Hawaii representative, has almost 20 years in education and six years as president of the Hawaii State Teachers Association. He couldn’t be reached for comment by press-time Monday.