"Dirty politics": City Council candidate Trevor Ozawa considering legal action after Supreme Court ruling
The Supreme Court invalidated Trevor Ozawa's win over Tommy Waters for the district four seat Friday.
One City Council candidate getting ready to hit the campaign trail. The other told KITV4 on Saturday night, he's considering legal action.
Accusations of cronyism, dirty politics, and political bias: Trevor Ozawa told KITV4 he's thinking about filing a federal courts appeal after the Supreme Court invalidated Ozawa's win over Tommy Waters for the district four seat on Friday. Ozawa raised red flags about the way the Justices handled the petition.
City Council District 4, which runs from Waikiki to Hawaii Kai hasn't been represented since January 2. The council plans to appoint an interim person.
Meanwhile, Ozawa raised concerns about the fairness of the court's decision.
"Justices Wilson, McKenna and Pollack were all nominated to the court by Mr. Waters when Mr. Waters served on the judicial selection commission. So Mr. Waters was directly involved in putting them on the Hawaii Supreme Court," Ozawa said.
Ozawa says Justice McKenna recused herself four years ago - when Waters filed his first petition for a recount in a slim loss to Ozawa - and this time did not.
"I think that's ridiculous, the Supreme Court has the duty and obligation the case based on the law," Waters said in response.
Mayor Kirk Caldwell has been very vocal about his support for Waters; which is another concern for Ozawa.
"Mayor Caldwell has publicly supported Mr. Waters in his campaign and therefore wanted to see my election results invalidated," Ozawa said.
KITV4 asked for the Mayor's comment and hasn't heard back yet.
Because of the results of this race, both candidates say they would support state legislation for automatic recounts for races with tight margins. Election night, Ozawa beat Waters by just 22 votes.
Political analyst Neil Milner says he doesn't think many voters will turn out for a special election.
"You gotta get people to care and come out to vote and there's a lot of possibility for a low turnout election," Milner said.
Both men say their priority is serving the people of the district.
"That's where my heart is, that's where I owe my duty to work hard for... We're just very very thankful and looking forward to a speedy election, a spirited election but also a fair election," Waters said.
"If the election needs to be held, I will bring my message of governmental accountability and transparency back to you, the voters," Ozawa said.
A judiciary spokesperson said in a statement in response to Ozawa's comments, saying:
"Judges are guided by the Hawaii Revised Code of Judicial Conduct, which establishes standards for the ethical conduct of judges. It provides guidance to assist judges in maintaining the highest standards of judicial and personal conduct, including when making a determination on whether or not to sit on a particular case.
Mr. Waters joined the Judicial Selection Commission (JSC) in April 2011, and he had no involvement in Justice Sabrina McKenna’s January 2011 appointment to the Supreme Court, as represented by Mr. Ozawa.
Mr. Waters did not nominate Justices Richard Pollack and Michael Wilson to the Supreme Court, as stated by Mr. Ozawa. Mr. Waters was one of nine members of the JSC, which submitted lists of finalists to Governor Abercrombie who made the appointments, subject to Senate confirmation. Mr. Waters’ tenure on the JSC ended in early 2014.
In addition, Mr. Ozawa stated that Justice McKenna’s disclosure indicated that her staff member lives at Mr. Otake’s house. Justice McKenna's disclosure stated in full “This notice is to inform all parties to this proceeding that one of my law clerks rents a studio unit co-owned by Thomas Otake. The parties are further notified that this law clerk has not performed, and will not perform, any work in this case.”
Mr. Ozawa was able to but did not object to any justice’s participation in this case before the final decision. Mr. Ozawa also did not raise any objection to Justice Pollack’s and Justice Wilson’s participation in the 2014 election challenge involving Mr. Waters and Mr. Ozawa, in which the court rejected Mr. Water’s challenge to the election result."
State law requires a new election be held within 120 days of Friday's ruling.