TOM FINNEGAN / TFINNEGAN@STARBULLETIN.COM
Circuit Judge Randal Valenciano administered the oath of office to new Kauai Mayor Bill "Kaipo" Asing yesterday.
Asing sworn in as Kauai mayor
The new mayor will focus on the issue of tour boats in Hanalei Bay
LIHUE » With his family and friends in attendance and his new employees looking on from outside their offices at the Moikeha Building, Bill "Kaipo" Asing was sworn in yesterday as Kauai mayor, taking the place of the late Bryan Baptiste.
Just a few hours later and across the street, County Council members unanimously picked his replacement on the Council: Daryl Kaneshiro, a cattle rancher and former councilman.
Both will hold their positions until Dec. 1, when those elected in the fall will take their place.
Asing, who filed his Council resignation just before the ceremony, said "there's a lot of work to do" and that he will likely not get everything done in the next 3 1/2 months.
"What (we want) to accomplish may not be done in the next 137 days, but let us begin now," he added.
To begin, Asing said his first priority will be to go back to the past -- and solve the controversy surrounding tour boats in Hanalei Bay.
"The Hanalei Bay situation will receive my immediate attention," he said.
It is an issue that has been brewing for decades, after North Shore residents fought to keep out more than 30 boat companies from working the Na Pali Coast from the North Shore.
Right now a number of tour companies are working in the bay, even after the county planning department issued a cease and desist order last year.
Asing, who said he grew up on the North Shore and spent years hiking along the Na Pali Coast, said the boating issue is about preserving the rugged coastline.
Asing said he would also like to address property tax reform, preserving lands for agriculture use, limiting agricultural subdivisions, density restrictions and the future of gated communities -- all "crucial decisions (that) will be made in the next 3 1/2 months."
Still, Asing announced that there will be no shake-ups in the administration and that "everything and everybody that is in place will remain in place."
He said that his selection "is an honor" but comes with "mixed feelings" with the enormity of the work that needs to be done to keep Baptiste's legacy alive.
Baptiste, 52, died June 22 of a heart attack after six years in office.
Asing was selected in early July to serve as mayor until elections can be held this fall.
Kaneshiro, 59, is a cattle rancher and manager of a local gas company who finished eighth in the at-large voting for the seven-member Council. He served on the Council in 1998-2006.
While Asing has ruled out a run for mayor, he will seek his eighth term as councilman. Kaneshiro said he has not decided whether he will run for any elected position this fall.
The filing deadline is Tuesday. Three candidates have expressed their intention to run for mayor, while 21 people have expressed a desire to run for Council. Not all, however, have filed the necessary paperwork.