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County to draw $475K for rare special election

LIHU‘E — The county is moving to allocate $475,000 for a special election prompted by the retirement of Prosecuting Attorney Justin Kollar.

Kollar, who is one year into his third four-year term as prosecuting attorney, will step down from office on Sept. 30. He publicly announced his departure in a series of tweets last month, stating he will relocate to the mainland to begin work at a nonprofit dedicated to justice reform.

The Kaua‘i County Charter mandates a special election be held to fill Kollar’s vacated position. Councilmembers praised the attorney for his years of service but expressed frustration with the costs incurred by his departure, during a special meeting held Wednesday.

“I think I have more of a message to send to Justin and anybody else in the future who would like to take a position like this: please be conscientious,” Councilmember Billy DeCosta said. “When you decide to leave in the middle of non-election time, it costs the taxpayers almost half a million dollars.”

The $475,000 will come from the county’s General Fund and pay for voting machines, ballot printing, ballot assembly, postage, personnel and more.

Special elections are exceedingly rare on Kaua‘i, according to County Election Administrator Lyndon Yoshioka.

“I’ve been here since the mid-’90s,” he said. “This is the first time a special election is being called.”

A resolution introduced Wednesday calls for a special primary election on Dec. 18, and a special general election on Feb. 26, 2022.

Deputy Prosecuting Attorney Rebecca Like, who will serve as interim prosecuting attorney, announced her candidacy for the position last week. If Like, who is endorsed by Kollar, is the sole candidate in the primary, the county may forgo a general election.

Councilmembers floated proposals to prevent another pricey special election from taking place in the future. Arguments included setting a two-term limit for the office of prosecuting attorney and permitting the mayor to fill prosecutorial vacancies.

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Scott Yunker, general assignment reporter, can be reached at 245-0437 or syunker@thegardenisland.com.
Source: The Garden Island

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