Ray Soon, a well-connected, Harvard-educated private consultant, will take over as Honolulu Mayor Kirk Caldwell’s chief of staff on Sept. 3.

Caldwell’s administration confirmed the hiring to Civil Beat on Monday, ending months of speculation about who would fill the role as the mayor’s on-the-ground, political lieutenant at Honolulu Hale.

Soon, who will be paid $125,000 a year, has strong ties to Neil Abercrombie, helping run the governor’s transition team after the 2010 election, and is a former Bill Clinton appointee to the President’s Advisory Council on Historic Preservation.

He was an executive at Kamehameha Schools and served as the head of the state Department of Hawaiian Home Lands from 1999 to 2003. His consulting firm, Solutions Pacific, was also awarded $352,000 in contracts to help bring the struggling State Historic Preservation Division into compliance with federal standards overseen by the National Park Service.

Caldwell spokesman Jesse Broder Van Dyke said Soon will now act as the mayor’s “vote counter,” working behind the scenes with Honolulu City Council members and others to make sure the administration’s message is clear.

“Part of his assignment is going to be working as a liaison directly with the the City Council and the state Legislature,” Broder Van Dyke said. “The mayor is hoping he can help improve the communications with the council.”

Caldwell so far has struggled to get along with Honolulu City Council members. His inaugural budget included an increase in the city’s gas tax that caught some council members off guard, particularly Budget Committee Chair Ann Kobayashi.

The council let the tax proposal die without so much as a hearing, setting in motion a continual back-and-forth over spending and revenues during ongoing budget deliberations. This fight included sniping from both sides over nearly $8 million city council members had set aside for local charities and nonprofits.

Now the administration and council are at budgetary odds after it was revealed the city is facing a $26 million shortfall just over a month into the fiscal year. Caldwell’s staff has placed much of the blame for this shortfall on the actions of the council.

Whether having a chief of staff in place would have helped smooth out any of these negotiations is arguable, but having someone like Soon installed in that position could have prevented some of the surprise some of the council members have expressed over the past six months.

Soon also could have played a role in Caldwell’s lobbying efforts at the State Capitol, where the mayor was pushing to bring more tax revenue to the city. Specifically, Caldwell wanted a larger share of the tourism dollars and to make sure the city was getting its fair share of the excise tax surcharge that was approved to help pay for its $5.26 billion rail project.

Soon says he was a “strong supporter” of Caldwell during his run for mayor. Campaign finance records show Soon gave Caldwell $500 in 2012. His wife also donated to Caldwell’s 2010 mayoral campaign.

As chief of staff, Soon said he wants to use his experience in planning and development to help Caldwell implement his vision for Honolulu’s rail project. That means integrating the railway into the “urban fabric” of the city using transit-oriented development to revitalize and modernize segments of the city.

When it comes to working with the City Council, Soon said he sees himself as a facilitator who will try to find common ground between the members and the administration. The idea, he said, is to not get hung up on the disagreements.

“It’s not about my agenda,” Soon said. “It’s really about the mayor’s agenda and how I can help him move that agenda forward.”

You can see Soon’s resume here:

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