Maui County

Maui councilman’s aide
chosen as successor

By Gary T. Kubota

WAILUKU >> One of the executive assistants to the late Maui County Council Chairman Patrick Kawano has been selected to succeed him for the remaining five months of his term.

Dennis "Danny" Mateo, 50, who worked in Kawano's office for five years, was picked in a 7-1 vote by the Council yesterday.

Mateo said he intends to represent Kawano's positions on issues and support the late councilman's list of projects for Molokai through the end of this year.

He said like Kawano, he plans to continue to hold a monthly meeting on Molokai for residents.

"He (Kawano) always had an open door," said Mateo, who was chosen from a field of eight candidates.

Mateo, who is running for Kawano's seat during elections later this year, said he will represent himself and his position starting January, if he's elected.

County Clerk Roy Hiraga said he would have to consult with Mateo before determining the date and time for his swearing-in ceremony.

A major issue looming before Mateo is whether he'll support a proposal introduced by Councilwoman Charmaine Tavares to reorganize the leadership of the Council. Dain Kane serves as vice chairman and acting chairman.

"I'm not committed to anyone and at this point," Mateo said. "I'm keeping all options open."

Mateo, a 1970 graduate of St. Anthony High School, has an associate degree in human services from the University of Hawaii at Hilo.

He formerly served as a community liaison for Kukui (Molokai) Inc., former owner of the Kaluakoi Resort in west Molokai, and as the economic development coordinator for Molokai under Republican Mayor Hannibal Tavares.

Kawano, 71, who intended to retire after finishing his term, died June 22 due to complications brought on by diabetes. He had supported Mateo as his successor on the Council.

Council members said they wished to honor Kawano through selecting Mateo to fulfill the five-month term, and also felt Mateo had the background to get up to speed quickly on issues facing them.

Mateo said he wants to make sure the county moves forward with certain building projects in the county budget, including $150,000 for expansion of the Molokai Youth Center, $50,000 in repairs to police cottages on Molokai and completion of a slaughterhouse building.

Councilman Wayne Nishiki, who cast the lone vote against Mateo, said he wanted to provide a level playing field for all Molokai Council candidates running for office by selecting someone who wouldn't run for election.

Maui County

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