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Friday, November 17, 2000

Kim says he’ll
have Cabinet chosen
by Dec. 4

Some department heads,
such as public works chief,
will be hard to find

By Rod Thompson
Big Island correspondent

HILO - Hawaii County Mayor-elect Harry Kim is looking for a few good people excited about government.

Kim asked an acquaintance to join his administration last week, then withdrew the offer. The acquaintance said he really wanted to retire but would take the job out of friendship with Kim.

"That's not good enough," Kim told him. "You need to have a feeling of wonderment that you have an opportunity to do some good."

After a week of screening, Kim hadn't selected any department heads by yesterday. But he expects to have his Cabinet put together in about two weeks - in time for his Dec. 4 inauguration.

He's consulting with people and agencies, but essentially doing the selection alone.

A nominal Republican, Kim says he will pay no attention to party affiliation in making selections.

Hawaii County Republican Chairwoman Shirley Spencer has no problem with Kim's one-man screening. "It's his ball game. He's going to do it the way he wants to do it," she said.

Any mayor has a challenge finding people, Kim said.

For example, the head of the Department of Public Works must be an engineer with five years management experience. "That's not going to be an easy one," Kim said.

"These kind of people are making six figures and above (in private business). The county pays less and requires them to work more time," he said. For nominees, he will seek advice from an engineering association.

But he's picky. This week Kim was given the name of an engineer well-qualified, but rejected him because he was associated with a large consulting firm.

Regarding two department heads, he will deliberately have little say. Although the position of police chief is vacant, the County Charter calls for the vacancy to be filled by the Police Commission.

When the position was vacant in 1994, Wayne Carvalho, Mayor Stephen Yamashiro's preferred candidate, got the job. Kim says he will express no preference. "The mayor should stay out of the selection," he said.

The voters changed the Charter regarding the fire chief on Nov. 7, creating a Fire Commission to appoint the chief.

County Clerk Al Konishi said several months may be needed for Kim to appoint commissioners, the County Council to confirm them, and the Commission to decide on a chief.

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