Honolulu Mayor Kirk Caldwell has been on the job just over a month, yet he still has several key cabinet appointments to make.

Primarily, he needs to pick the next director of the Budget and Fiscal Services Department.

Caldwell must send his first budget to the Honolulu City Council by March 1, and some are concerned he’s cutting it too close to the deadline.

The city’s operating budget is nearly $2 billion, and Caldwell outlined some ambitious proposals while running for office.

Some of Caldwell’s promises include restoring the previous administration’s cuts to bus routes and putting soap in all public restrooms.

Honolulu City Councilwoman Ann Kobayashi, who heads the budget committee, said it’s “unusual” that Caldwell hasn’t picked his budget director yet.

She said it’s an important position, especially if he “wants to make his mark” on the spending plan for the upcoming fiscal year.

“I am concerned,” Kobayashi said. “But I know that he’s trying to find the best people for those positions.”

Caldwell has already filled some of the most important positions in his administration, including naming Ember Shinn as his managing director.

Among the departments that still don’t have a hand-picked director are Budget and Fiscal Services, Corporation Counsel, Information Technology, Parks and Recreation and Planning and Permitting.

Former Honolulu Mayor Peter Carlisle, who beat out Caldwell in a special election, had most of his cabinet in place by the time he took office.

While some of those department heads were holdovers from the previous administration, Carlisle defended his decision to keep them in place by saying that if they’re qualified and doing their job, then they deserved to stick around.

In a statement to Civil Beat, Carlisle again pointed out how quickly he’d selected his cabinet, adding that he also was prompt in filling newly created positions, such as the agricultural liaison.

“Because the City and County of Honolulu is involved in so many moving parts,” Carlisle said, “It was important to me to have leadership in place working on the first day.”

Caldwell’s mayoral transition team is still in the process of choosing his remaining cabinet members. The administration expects an announcement later in the week.

Caldwell’s camp has also downplayed any concerns about the budget not getting to the council on time.

City spokesman Jesse Broder Van Dyke said the mayor’s office has experienced staff who have agreed to serve as acting director and deputy of the budget office until Caldwell makes his official selections.

He also said the administration is “working hard” on the budget and will be ready to submit it to the council by the March 1 deadline.

In an interview with Civil Beat last week, Caldwell said the delay in selecting department heads is due to the vetting process. He said he’s trying to pull in people from outside Honolulu Hale to give his administration fresh perspective.

“We have a good group going through the confirmation process,” Caldwell said. “It took awhile because unlike the previous administration, I’m trying to bring in a group of people from the outside — as much as possible from the private sector — who are going to try to come in and move the needle and do things differently and use the next four years to move the city in a new direction.”

Sara Lin contributed to this report.

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