East Hawaii News

Yoshimoto Will Be Next County Council Chairman

November 14, 2012, 5:58 PM HST
* Updated November 14, 7:48 PM
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The leadership has been set for the new County Council taking office next month, with veteran Councilman J Yoshimoto named to be the new chair.

It’s familiar ground for Yoshimoto, who served as chairman from 2008 through 2010.

Over the past two years, however, he was often in the minority faction in the council headed by Chairman Dominic Yagong.

Yoshimoto, an attorney, was elected to the District 2 seat in Hilo in the Aug. 11 primary election. This will be his fourth two-year term which means he will be prevented by term limits from running again in 2014.

Karen Eoff, who also won her District 8 seat outright in the primary, will be the council’s vice chairwoman. She has served as an aide to current North Kona Councilman Angel Pilago, who did not seek re-election.

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Those leadership positions, as well as the heads of the various council committees, were spelled out in resolutions filed today. They will be taken up when the council meets officially for the first time on Monday, Dec. 3.

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The positions were determined through meetings held recently by the council members-elect, six of whom are newcomers to the county’s legislative body.

The Finance Committee, considered the most powerful committee because it deals with money matters, will be chaired by Valerie Poindexter. Poindexter won her seat in last week’s general election by defeating Chelsea Yagong, daughter of the current council chairman.

The vice chairman will be Greggor Ilagan, who defeated lower Puna Councilman Fred Blas in last week’s election.

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Zendo Kern, who was elected to the upper Puna council seat in August’s primary election, will be chairman of the Committee on Planning. Kern is currently chairman of the appointed Windward Planning Commission. Margaret Wille, a Waimea attorney who represents District 9, will be vice chairwoman.

Dru Kanuha, who ran unopposed for Kona’s District 7 seat in the primary, will chair the Public Works and Parks and Recreation Committee, with incumbent councilman Dennis “Fresh” Onishi of Hilo as vice chair.

Eoff will be chairwoman and Poindexter will be vice chairwoman of the Committee on Human Services and Social Services.

That committee was modified to remove public safety issues.The resulting Public Safety and Mass Transit committee will be chaired by South Kona Councilwoman Brenda Ford, who currently serves as chairwoman of the Finance Committee. Wille will be her vice chair.

Wille will be chairwoman of the Committee on Agriculture, Water and Energy Sustainability, with Poindexter service as vice chairwoman.

Onishi will head a new panel that was formed, the Governmental Relations and Economic Development Committee, with Ilagan as vice chair.

Those positions will be reversed for the council’s Housing Committee which Ilagan will chair.

Yoshimoto said the organizational efforts went smoothly.

“We had a really good discussion,” he said today. “There’s a lot of optimism and willingness to work together.”

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