Judge will rule
Jimmy Arakaki says his term is not affected
by limits approved in the Big Island charter
HILO >> A Big Island judge plans to hear arguments and issue a decision Oct. 1 on whether County Councilman Jimmy Arakaki can run for re-election because of term limits.
Circuit Judge Glen Hara "partially granted" a motion yesterday filed by local voters Ed Clark and Matthew Binder, and Ollie "Ole" Fulks, Arakaki's lone opponent in the nonpartisan Council election.
If Hara rules that Arakaki is ineligible to run, Arakaki will be thrown off the ballot, and Fulks will run unopposed for the seat in the general election.
In 1996, Big Islanders voted to amend the County Charter to limit Council members to four consecutive two-year terms.
Arakaki contends he is eligible to run again because the amendment's effective year was 1998.
That means that this would be his fourth term since the starting date of the amendment, Arakaki maintains. He has been in office since 1990 and is running for an eighth term.
Hawaii County Corporation Counsel Lincoln Ashida and County Clerk Al Konishi have sided with Arakaki, maintaining that the clock started in 1998.
The plaintiffs, however, contend the clock started 1996, the year the amendment passed, and therefore Arakaki is now serving his fourth consecutive term and cannot run again.
"The people of this county voted for term limits in 1996 by a 3-1 margin. It's outrageous that he (Arakaki) would try to thwart their will," said David Kimo Frankel, attorney for the plaintiffs.
"Theirs is an absurd argument," said Brian De Lima, one of the attorneys arguing on behalf of Arakaki. "There are lots of laws that might not work out the way people want. That's the way the process works."
Said Frankel: "The law is clear. Jimmy Arakaki will not be in office in December."