The nine-member Honolulu City Council governs the City and County of Honolulu and is responsible for legislative and investigative functions. The mayor serves as chief executive of the city. All city council offices are nonpartisan and candidates are elected to four-year terms for a maximum of two consecutive terms.
The city has a mayor-council structure. The mayor serves as chief executive officer of the city, with responsibilities that include supervision of the executive agencies responsible for public safety and welfare; culture and recreation; community and human development; citizen participation; and general government operations.
A nine-member city council is responsible for legislative and investigative functions. All offices are nonpartisan and candidates are elected to four-year terms for a maximum of two consecutive terms. Elections are conducted by the city clerk every two years.
Because city elections are nonpartisan, the voters can choose from all candidates for each Honolulu office during the primary election. A candidate who receives more than 50 percent votes wins outright in the primary, otherwise the two candidates with the most votes advance to the general election.
In Honolulu, the adoption of a city charter that created a mayor-council government structure was the result of Hawaii’s statehood in 1959, when the Hawaii Legislature granted home rule to the counties. The last major structural change came from Mayor Harris in 1998, which services and operations were consolidated.
Salaries of elected and appointed officials are set by the Salary Commission for the City and County of Honolulu. Council members are paid $52,446 per year, with the chair getting $58,596.
The City Council has a number of responsibilities to their constituents, such as supporting the community with safety, regulate transportation and the bus, homeowners like property taxes, homelessness, and the land such as waste, sanitation and water. The city is juggling a $10 billion Honolulu rail project and necessary road and sewage improvements. This election places much pressure on the incumbents to please its voters while also meeting its legal obligations of balancing the budget.
Because Honolulu is required by law to operate on a balanced budget, the approval process can be lengthy and rigorous. Each year, the mayor proposes a budget that the must approve, but the council is anything but a rubber stamp entity. Both sides have a tremendous amount of power in the affair.
It begins when the mayor submits a budget proposal to the city council before March 2. After public hearings, the City Council approves or revises the document. Only the mayor has the power to propose amendments to budget ordinances, as well as the ability to line item veto. But the council can override that veto. If the council doesn’t have enough votes to do so, the original budget automatically becomes law.
The mayor also can establish additional funds and move money within those funds, but approval from the City Council is required when dealing with cumulative expenditures over $100,000. The office of the city auditor monitors spending and reports to the City Council. The city operates on a fiscal year, so the enacted budget begins July 1.
The council is divided into nine districts:
Ewa, Ewa Beach, Honouliuli, West Loch, Kapolei, Kalaeloa (Barber’s Point), Honokai Hale and Nanakai Gardens, Ko Olina, Nanakuli, Waianae, Makaha, Keaau and Makua.
phone: (808) 768-5001
Mililani Mauka, Wahiawa, Whitmore Village, Mokuleia, Waialua, Haleiwa, Waimea, Pupukea, Sunset Beach, Kahuku, Laie, Hauula, Punaluu, Kahana, Kaaawa, Kualoa, Waiahole, Waikane, Kahaluu, Ahuimanu, and a portion of Heeia
Ernie Martin, who is also Council chair
phone: (808) 768-5002
Waimanalo, Kailua and most of Kaneohe
phone: (808) 768-5003
Hawaii Kai, Kuliouou, Niu Valley, Aina Haina, Wailupe, Waialae-Iki, Kalani Valley, Kahala, Wilhemina Rise, a portion of Kapahulu, a portion of Kaimuki, Diamond Head, Waikiki and a portion of Ala Moana
phone: (808) 768-5004
A portion of Kapahulu and Kaimuki; Palolo Valley, St. Louis Heights, Manoa, Moiliili, McCully, Kakaako, and a portion of Ala Moana and Makiki
phone: (808) 768-5005
A portion of Makiki, Downtown Honolulu, Punchbowl, Liliha, Pauoa Valley, Nuuanu, Alewa Heights, Papakolea, Kalihi Valley and a portion of Kalihi
phone: (808) 768-5006
A portion of upper Kalihi, Kapalama, Palama, Iwilei, Kalihi Kai, Sand Island, Mapunapuna, Airport, Hickam, Pearl Harbor, Ford Island, Aliamanu, Salt Lake, Foster Village, Stadium and Halawa Valley Estates
phone: (808) 768-5007
Fort Shafter, Moanalua, Halawa, Aiea, Waimalu, Pearl City, Pearl City Peninsula, Seaview, Crestview and Waipio Gentry.
phone: (808) 768-5008
Waikele, Waipahu, Village Park, Makakilo, Kunia, and Mililani Town
phone: (808) 768-5009
The general council meetings are held once a month at the Honolulu Hale at 10:00 a.m., they vary from time to time but the schedule is always posted six days in advance, for more information call (808) 547-7000. The committees are a way for the council to work on their proposals and run the city more efficiently.
Safety, Economic Development and Government Affairs Committee
The Safety, Economic Development and Government Affairs Committee deals with the police and fire departments. It meets on Tuesdays at 9 a.m.
Parks and Cultural Affairs Committee
The Parks and Cultural Affairs Committee meets on Tuesdays at 10:30 a.m.
Executive Matters and Legal Affairs Committee
The Executive Matters and Legal Affairs Committee deals with the mayor, the legal departments, prosecutor’s office, and the laws the council itself passes. It meets on Tuesdays at 1 p.m.
The Budget Committee ensures the allocation of city resources as per the approved budget. It meets on Wednesdays at 9 a.m.
Public Works and Sustainability Committee
The Public Works and Sustainability Committee primarily focuses on the roads, and public facilities. It meets on Wednesdays at 1 p.m.
Zoning and Planning Committee
The Zoning and Planning Committee‘s purpose is to regulate current private and commercial zoning districts and deals with projects approvals and urban planning. It meets on Thursdays at 9 a.m.
The Transportation Committee focuses on the bus, the road repairs and design, as well as the Rail project. It meets on Thursdays at 1 p.m.