After the Honolulu City Council welcomes five new members in January, Councilman Tommy Waters may be presiding as the chair of the council.

Ceremonial swearing in of Honolulu City Councilmember Tommy Waters.
Tommy Waters was sworn into office in 2019 after a contentious special election. Cory Lum/Civil Beat

A resolution introduced by Councilman Brandon Elefante names Waters as the council head and new members Esther Kiaaina and Andria Tupola as vice-chair and floor leader, respectively.

The hierarchy will have to be approved by a majority of council members at their first meeting on Jan. 2.

Waters represents District 4, which covers the area from Ala Moana to Hawaii Kai. He currently serves as the vice-chair of the council.

“I’m very humbled to serve should a majority of my colleagues support me,” he said in a statement. “From navigating the challenges we’re facing due to the COVID-19 pandemic, providing more affordable housing for residents, and revitalizing and diversifying our economy, it is clear that we all need to work together in a constructive, cohesive manner so that our communities can thrive.”

Kiaaina is a former Obama administration official and nonprofit leader who was just elected to represent District 3, which includes Kaneohe, Kailua and Waimanalo.

Tupola, a former Republican state representative who will represent the West side of Oahu, said in a statement that the proposed leadership team reflects a new and fresh perspective.

“We are unified in our efforts to revive local businesses and help local families be able to live here for generations to come,” she said.

Along with Waters, sitting council members Elefante, Heidi Tsuneyoshi and Carol Fukunaga will stay on next year. They will be joined by five new colleagues: Kiaaina and Tupola, as well as former House Speaker Calvin Say, council staffer Radiant Cordero and entertainer Augie Tulba.

Members Kym Pine, Ann Kobayashi, Joey Manahan and Ron Menor are term-limited and will leave office on Jan. 2.

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