Honolulu has a new man in charge of running elections, tracking legislation and making sure the public is kept in the loop on important City Council decisions.

The Honolulu City Council voted unanimously earlier this week to appoint Glen Takahashi to a six-year term as city clerk. Takahashi has worked in the clerk’s for nearly 16 years, mostly in the elections division, and will be replacing Bernice Mau, who retired in 2014.

The council also appointed Kimberly Ribellia as deputy city clerk, which is a position that hasn’t really existed since the 1980s.

Ribellia is a lobbyist for Hawaii Operating Engineers Industry Stabilization Fund.

She’s also a former staffer for Honolulu City Council Chairman Ernie Martin.

Honolulu Hale. 27 march 2015. photograph Cory Lum/Civil Beat

Honolulu’s city clerk works behind the scenes to maintain public records and ensure that council actions are recorded.

Cory Lum/Civil Beat

“Creation of positions is the prerogative of the City Council,” Takahashi said. “Anytime you can add some professional horse power it’s a good thing.”

The City Council formed a special committee in March to find a replacement for former City Clerk Bernice Mau, who retired last year. Members of the committee included City Councilman Ikaika Anderson, Diane Kawauchi, Mark Oto, Frank Streed and Patricia Mau Shimizu.

In April, the committee submitted its final report to Council Chairman Ernie Martin with the consensus recommendation that Takahashi be appointed as city clerk for a six-year term. He had been serving as the acting city clerk since November 2014.

The report shows that 14 people had applied for the position and that Takahashi scored highest among the candidates. All other names were redacted, including Ribellia’s. Takahashi’s resume was also included with the final report. There was no mention of hiring a deputy city clerk.

On May 20, Martin introduced a resolution to appoint Takahashi as clerk and Ribellia as his deputy. The resolution stated that Ribellia was the second most qualified candidate behind Takahashi.

Mau, however, was troubled by the inclusion of Ribellia in the resolution. She submitted written testimony questioning why the deputy clerk position was needed, especially since it had been left vacant for nearly three decades.

She said the council should have advertised for the job to draw more candidates — including those already working in the office — instead of picking from the existing applicant pool. Mau noted that there were anywhere from two to three employees in the clerk’s office who might have applied had they known the deputy position was an option.

“In closing, although I have retired from the City and County of Honolulu,” Mau said, “I still care for and have concerns about the Office of the City Clerk as the office and the people were a big part of my life.”

Ribellia is scheduled to begin working on July 1. According to the clerk’s office, she will earn a salary of about $129,000.

Takahashi’s salary is $136,000.

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