Honolulu City Council

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Honolulu City Council
Seal of Honolulu, Hawaii.svg
Term limits
Two consecutive
four-year terms
Council Chair
Floor Leader
Length of term
4 years
Authority Section 3-101, Revised Charter of Honolulu
Salary$71,520 Council Chair
$64,008 (2017) [1]
Single-member district
Last election
November 3, 2020 [2]
Next election
November 8, 2022
Meeting place
Honolulu Hale, Honolulu

Honolulu City Council is the legislature of the City and County of Honolulu, the capital and largest city of the United States state of Hawaiʻi. It is composed of nine members who are elected to a four-year term. Each member can serve no more than two consecutive terms. Members of the council are elected from nine administrative districts. Since 1991, the council reapportions council districts every ten years. Same as the mayor of the city, members of the council are elected by nonpartisan elections. [3]

The Power and responsibility of the council are established by the City and County Charter, which was enacted in 1973. The council holds various legislative power and responsibility of the city and county, such as public safety and balancing the city and county's budget, regulating zoning and municipal development, and making citywide policies for governmental affairs. [4]


The first legislative body of the Honolulu was the Board of Supervisors of Oʻahu County, which was created by the Hawaiʻi Territorial Legislature with the County Act of 1905. [5] The mayor-council system of the municipal government was created when the consolidated city-county of Honolulu was established in 1907. Different from the current city council, the board was composed by seven elected at-large supervisors and presided by the Mayor of Honolulu. [6]

The Board of Supervisors was renamed as the City Council in 1955. [7] As the city and county adopted a new charter in 1959, in the same year as Hawaiʻi became a U.S. state, and reapportioned three seats of the City Council from at-large to various rural districts. [5] In 1973, the city and county adopted a new charter which changed all members of the council to be elected by council districts. The new charter also set rules for electing the president of the council, vacancy and by-election of councilmembers. [8]

In 1992, a charter amendment significantly impacted the council. The amendment limited councilmembers to serve no more than two consecutive terms on the council, and seats on the council to be nonpartisan. [5] The amendment also set the rule of decennial reapportionment, which require the council to appoint a commission for review and reapportioning council districts.

Another charter amendment was adopted in 1998, which staggered the terms of councilmembers, and made four of nine councillmembers to be elected at one election, and the rest at the next. [5] The council started appointing the city auditor for the accountability in the city government from 2002. [9]


The council is composed by nine councilmembers. They are elected from nine council districts represents the whole city and county of Honolulu. Current council districts were decided by the 2010 reapportion. [5] Elections of councilmembers are held by the State of Hawaiʻi Office of Elections during the state's general election period. [2] Councilmembers are elected by nonpartisan elections; a primary is held in August, with a top-two runoff in November if no one wins a majority of the vote.

The council elects a chair and vice-chair among its councilmembers. Chair of the council acts as the presiding officer of the council, and presides meetings of the council. With the council's approval, chair of the council performs some executive power such as appointing members of the Charter Commission. [10] Vice-chair of the council only acts as the presiding officer when the chair is absent or disable from office.

Councilmembers have to be qualified elector of the council district which they are elected or appointed from. Councilmembers will be removed when they leave their residence. A councilmember may be impeached by a recall petition signed by registered voters. An effective recall petition has to be signed by at least 10% of the total registered voters in the councilmember's district. [3]

Councilmembers [2]
District Councilmember Party Term Ends
1 Andria Tupola Nonpartisan 2024
2 Heidi Tsuneyoshi Nonpartisan 2022
3 Esther Kiaʻāina Nonpartisan 2024
4 Tommy Waters Nonpartisan 2022
5 Calvin Say Nonpartisan 2024
6 Carol Fukunaga Nonpartisan 2022
7 Radiant Cordero Nonpartisan 2024
8 Brandon Elefante Nonpartisan 2022
9 Augie T. Nonpartisan 2024


As a consolidated city-county, [11] the City and County of Honolulu governs the whole county of Honolulu. The Constitution of the State of Hawaiʻi gives each county of the state the power to “frame and adopt a charter for its own self-government.” [12] Honolulu City Council performs the legislative power of the city and county government. The county's charter also granted some executive power to the council such as setting real property tax rate, controlling and auditing the county's budget, and creating governmental agencies and commissions. [3]

Legislative Power

Both the mayor of Honolulu and the council can propose bills for the city ordinance, the code for the city. Voters also have a limited initiative power to propose bills not related to repealing the levy of taxes, appropriation of money and other financial activities.

The council selects six of thirteen members of the Charter Commission, an agency performs the mandatory review of the city charter for each ten years. Although the council does not have the power to amend the city charter directly. [10]

Legislative Process

Bills have to be approved by the mayor after went through three readings in the council. The council goes through bills on first reading and refers them to appropriate committees for review. Bills will be returned to the council for second reading after approved by the committees. After second reading, bills will be published in newspaper; a public hearing will be held for each bill. The council sends them back to committees after the public hearing for further revision, and receives them for third reading after committees' approval. When a bill passed third reading, the council transmits it to the mayor for approval. Bills become law when the Mayor approves them. [13]

Powers of Investigation and Auditory

The council has the power to conduct investigations of operations of government agencies of the city, and any subjects that the council can legislate. The council also has the power to oversee the city's budget and financial activities by setting annual budget and appointing city audits. [3]

Power of Appointment

The council has the power to appoint the City Clerk, Auditor and the Director of Council Services. [3] The council also can create semi-autonomous agencies and appoint officers of these agencies with the mayor. The city currently has two semi-autonomous agencies: The Board of Water Supply and Honolulu Authority for Rapid Transportation (HART). [14]

Agencies and Committees

The council, as the legislative branch of the City and County of Honolulu, supervises three offices, two semi-autonomous agencies and eight committees. [14]


  • City Clerk's Office
  • Office of Council Services
  • Office of the City Auditor

Semi-autonomous Agencies

  • The Board of Water Supply
  • Honolulu Authority for Rapid Transportation (HART)


Acronyms [15] Committee
BUD Committee on Budget
EMLA Committee on Executive Matters and Legal Affairs
PCCS Committee on Parks, Community and Customer Services
PHWS Committee on Public Health, Safety and Welfare
PWIS Committee on Public Works, Infrastructure and Sustainability
TP Committee on Transportation & Planning
ZH Committee on Zoning & Housing
BEDT Committee on Business, Economic Development & Tourism


  1. ^ Findings of Fact by the 2017 Salary Commission (PDF). Honolulu Salary Commission. 2017.
  2. ^ a b c "Elected Officials". State of Hawaii Office of Elections.
  3. ^ a b c d e "Revised Charter of the City & County of Honolulu 1973 (2000 Edition) Updated with 2000-2015 Charter Amemdments" (PDF). City and County of Honolulu.
  4. ^ "Functions of the City Council". City and County of Honolulu.
  5. ^ a b c d e "History of the Members of the Honolulu City Council". City and County of Honolulu.
  6. ^ Title:An act incorporating the city and county of Honolulu, approved by the Governor of the Territory of Hawaii, April 30, 1907. Honolulu, Hawaiian Gazette Co., ltd. 1907.
  7. ^ Honolulu Hale: 50th anniversary, 1929-1979. Honolulu, Hawaii: City & County of Honolulu. 1907.
  8. ^ Beams, Miriam (May 1978). "Article VII: Local Government" (PDF). Hawaii Constitutional Convention Studies 1978.
  9. ^ "Authority". City and County of Honolululu.
  10. ^ a b "Authority of the Charter Commission". Honolulu Charter Commission.
  11. ^ "Cities 101 -- Consolidations".
  12. ^ "Article VIII Local Government". The Constitution of the State of Hawaii (Web). Hawaii Legislative Reference Bureau. December 6, 2016.
  13. ^ "How A Bill Becomes An Ordinance". City and County of Honolulu.
  14. ^ a b "Departments and Agencies". City and County of Honolulu.
  15. ^ "Honolulu City Council TV". Honolulu City Council TV.


City and County of Honolulu Municipal Reference Center. http://www.honolulu.gov/cms-csd-menu/site-csd-sitearticles/18864-municipal-reference-center-resources-online.html

Dye, Bob. Hawaiʹi Chronicles II : Contemporary Island History from the Pages of Honolulu Magazine. Honolulu: University of Hawaiʹi Press, 1998.

Honolulu, Mayor's Office of Information and Complaint. The City and County of Honolulu. Honolulu, 1971.