HONOLULU (KHON2) — Honolulu City Council members are disagreeing about whether they should be allowed to have another job while holding office. The proposal comes as many in the community question a pay increase that would more than double the council member’s salary.
The proposal said “as of the sixty-first calendar day after election or appointment to office,” councilmembers may not hold other employment during their tenure.
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Councilmember Esther Kiaaina was one of the introducers.
Kiaaina said, “We believe that because of what it requires we need City Council members who can devote 100% of their time only to City Council.”
Kiaaina said the responsibilities of a council member go beyond part-time employment.
She said, “Ran for office, I believed that it was part-time. So I did have another job and after two years I realized that it was unfair to both the City Council as well as my nonprofit organization.”
The discussion of whether council members are full-time or part-time started picking up steam after a more than 60% pay increase was recommended by the Honolulu Salary Commission. It was a decision made after reviewing the council’s responsibilities, work hours, and cost of living.
Grassroots non-partisan group, Common Cause Hawaii favors the proposal.
Common Cause Program Manager Camron Hurt said, “It’s in the public’s best interest that our city council members work full time because that way they are able to do the business of the city we also know that when you have city council members not work full time, well that allows for different types of outside influences.”
Meanwhile, Councilmember Andria Tupola opposed the pay raise and the measure to prohibit outside jobs.
Tupola said, “It does seem that it is proposed as a possible compromise for the very very very high salary increase that they are suggesting, so I think that we need to take a step back.”
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The entire City Council is set to discuss the outside employment measure on Wednesday during a first reading. The ordinance would take effect on Jan. 1, 2024, if it passes.