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The Honolulu Advertiser
Posted on: Friday, May 28, 2010

Finding this short-timer is a tall order

Short-term jobs generally aren't this consequential. But for the people in the City Council district formerly represented by Charles Djou, his replacement until year's end will have more impact on their lives than the usual temp.

The only guidance provided by the City Charter for a vacancy this brief is that the remaining eight members have 30 days from Djou's resignation to pick a replacement or leave it to the mayor to appoint one. There's no reason to dilly-dally on this, so the decision should be made at the next regular council meeting June 9.

In the past, members have favored hopefuls who pledge not to run for the full term in the fall so they wouldn't be giving even a small incumbency edge to any candidate. They have every reason to follow that instinct this time, too.

But the real test is the appointee's ability to hit the ground running, and running at a sprinter's clip. As Djou has taken his chief aide with him to his own temporary stint as a congressman, one obvious prospect is off the list.

In particular, on Day 1 the newbie will have to be primed to vote on the city budget, up for a final verdict practically the instant he or she is sworn in. Most of the heavy lifting on that assignment has been done, but a stand-in still should show they've been paying attention.

Even beyond the budget to the more pedestrian city concerns, the replacement will have to get up to speed on business and issues that are already in play. And with the campaign season ramping up, from the mayor's office on down, he or she will be doing so in the midst of political churn, not an ideal setting for anyone.

The best utility player here would be someone who knows the game like a pro without longing to be one, which is no mean trick.