City Hall veteran
served Council and
improved local voting

Described as a gentleman who took the politics out of the city clerk's post, Raymond Keaunui Pua is also being remembered for his contributions to the election process in Hawaii.

"I think a lot of what we do in registration and absentee voting is a result of his work," state Chief Election Officer Dwayne Yoshina said. "I think in that sense he gave us a lot."

Pua, 61, died Sunday at his home in downtown Honolulu after a long battle with cancer.

Pua's career with the city began in 1962 as a messenger with the city Building Department. The following year, he moved to the City Clerk's Office, where he spent most of his 30-year career.

The City Council appointed Pua as city clerk on Feb. 23, 1983, serving in that post for 12 years and under seven Council chairmen.

The city clerk serves at the discretion of the City Council chairman and is the chief election officer for the county.

Former City Council Chairman Gary Gill credited Pua with providing stability and smooth day-to-day operations at the Council even though the political nature of City Hall makes that difficult at times.

"He had the highest degree of professionalism and a way of getting along with just about everybody and, in spite of politics, getting work done," Gill said. "He had a well-earned reputation for running an efficient office. I think he had the respect of everyone on the Council regardless of the changes in Council leadership."

Retired City Clerk Genny Wong, who worked under Pua and succeeded him at the helm of the clerk's office, said that under Pua's tutelage she continued to carry on his apolitical philosophy.

"We were very neutral in the political happenings around us," Wong said. "He was always a gentleman through and through. He never lost his cool."

Wong said that under Pua's guidance the City Clerk's Office tried to make voting as easy and accessible as possible for the public.

"He helped to organize and structure our thinking so that we had a more studied approach to elections," state Election Chief Yoshina said. "He made certain that when we looked at elections, we looked at it from a big-picture view."

And, Gill said, Pua's approaches to voting have been replicated by the neighbor island counties.

Gill also said that Pua's work following his 1994 retirement showed a "deep caring" for his community as a whole. Pua worked with the controversial Ha Hawaii organization, which pushed for a native Hawaiian vote for self-determination. He was also chairman of the state Elections Appointment and Review Panel charged with the selection and oversight of the chief election officer.

"He left big footprints that are going to be hard to fill. He was just a classy guy," Yoshina said. "He was a teacher and my mentor. I learned a lot from him. I'm going to miss him a lot."

Funeral arrangements are pending.

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