West Oahu voters Wednesday elected Tom Berg to replace former City Council member Todd Apo, who resigned in November. He took the seat with 18.5 percent of the vote. Jason Espero trailed him with 15.6 percent of the vote.

Berg, a longtime West Oahu legislative aide, won’t be able to be sworn in with other City Council members at Honolulu Hale Thursday — a ceremonial swearing-in is also planned for Jan. 3. Berg will have to wait out the 20-day challenge period before taking his seat on the council.

The Republican’s City Council victory comes on the heels of his loss to incumbent Rep. Rida Cabanilla (D-42) in a bid for the House seat she’s occupied since 2005.

Berg, 46, is now slated to chair the City Council’s Parks and Human Services Committee, a key leadership post, as City Council Chair Nestor Garcia is expected to announce a new focus on social services in January. Berg will also serve as vice chair of the Planning Committee with Chair Ann Kobayashi.

Apo announced he was going to take a job with Disney’s Aulani Resort in August, but opted to wait to resign for what he said would be a smoother transition at Honolulu Hale given the new mayoral leadership. Apo was chairman of the nine-member council. Berg will be paid $52,446 a year.

There were 14 candidates in the running, though not even a quarter of registered voters cast ballots. Of the 53,753 registered voters in District 1, just 12,610 — or 23.5 percent — participated.

Candidate Votes Earned Percent of Vote
Tom Berg 2,326 18.5
Kioni Dudley 1,179 9.4
Jason Espero 1,950 15.5
Mel Kahele 1,645 13.1
Celeste LaCuesta 314 2.5
Chris Lewis 392 3.1
Matthew LoPresti 286 2.3
James Manaku 350 2.8
Rose Martinez 1,141 9.1
Bob McDermott 1,604 12.8
John Roco 85 0.7
Patty Teruya 1,001 8.0
Gary Velleses 62 0.5
Victoria Yuen 224 1.8

Patty Teruya dropped out of the race soon after filing, due to a death in her family, but still garnered 1,001 votes. City Clerk Bernice Mau has said she is hopeful the mail-in special election will end up costing the city less than $170,000.

Read what candidates, including incoming City Council member Berg, wrote about District 1 issues in response to a Civil Beat questionnaire.

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