Sunday, Jan. 16, 2022|
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Mayor Billy Kenoi’s campaign manager has been hired to lead the county Office of Aging, a $110,000-plus position that oversees a department of 12 employees.
Kimo Alameda was selected by a panel that did not include the mayor, said county officials. The position was advertised for 10 days and six people applied, said Kenoi spokesman Peter Boylan. He started April 1.
“Dr. Alameda was the most qualified applicant for executive director of the Hawaii County Office on Aging,” Boylan said in a statement. “His experience (in the state Department of Health) and his dedication to coaching kids and working as a counselor make him a valuable resource to the county and our kupuna.”
The Office of Aging, unlike departments set by the county charter, does not require County Council confirmation of its director. But most council members, when reviewing the program budget April 23, praised Alameda for the office.
“I think you’ll do a great job,” said Council Chairman Dru Kanuha of Kona.
Hamakua Councilwoman Valierie Poindexter, the council vice chairwoman, agreed.
“We’re so fortunate to have you,” Poindexter said.
Alameda said he doesn’t think there is any problem with his former role chairing Kenoi’s successful mayoral campaigns, as that part is finished. He said since Kenoi is term-limited and can’t run for mayor again, he doesn’t think there’s an issue.
“I never entertained the thought,” he said. “If it becomes an issue, I’ll address it.”
Kenoi’s campaign account remains open, however, and as of Monday, he hadn’t submitted paperwork to close it or change his campaign manager. Under Hawaii campaign finance laws, candidates can use their campaign accounts for other state and local offices.
Questions remain about whether Alameda plans to continue as Kenoi’s campaign manager while holding a position under his authority as mayor.
The county code of ethics is silent on the hiring of campaign officials, stating only, “No person in a supervisory capacity shall engage in personal or business relationships with subordinates, which might intimidate said subordinates in the discharge of their official duties.”
Boylan said Kenoi is in the process of closing the campaign account.
“Mayor Kenoi is shutting down his campaign organization and does not plan on running for any other office,” Boylan said.
The mayor currently is under investigation by the state attorney general and is the subject of a county ethics complaint about his personal use of a county-issued credit card.
Alameda, who has 15 years with the state Department of Health, and previously worked for the Department of Education, said he’s wanted a position on Hawaii Island so he wouldn’t have to travel so much and could be closer to his seven children.
He replaces Alan Parker, who retired after more than 25 years leading the office.
Alameda appears to meet many of the qualifications for the position.
A former program manager of the Office of Health Equity for the state DOH, he has a master’s degree from the University of Hawaii at Manoa and a doctorate in educational, psychological and cultural studies from the University of Nebraska.
The position requires at minimum a bachelor’s degree in social work, sociology, psychology, gerontology, counseling, public health or a related field, according to documents obtained by West Hawaii Today.
Documents also show the salary range for the position is $63,228 to $110,988, but Alameda’s salary is at the top of the range.
But questions remain whether Alameda meets the two years of supervisory-level experience to qualify for the position. The Office of Health Equity is an office of one, a Health Department official said Monday.
Alameda’s previous experience as an instructor at Argosy University for ethics, child and adolescent development and multicultural counseling classes also doesn’t include supervisory experience.
Email Nancy Cook Lauer at firstname.lastname@example.org.
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