Who has the edge in the race for Honolulu Mayor?

Last week Desperate America Report and the Honolulu Coffee Party Examiner brought you the candidates for Honolulu Mayor.  The office was vacated by Mufi Hanneman when he resigned to run for governor.  First a recent development: City Councilman Donovan Dela Cruz dropped out of the race citing concerns over a lack of funds for his mayoral candidacy.  Dela Cruz has since filed papers to run for the State Senate representing district 22.  The remaining pool of candidates are still an intriguing bunch.  Let us first take a look at the acting mayor, Kirk Caldwell.

Kirk Caldwell is the acting Mayor of Honolulu.  He was previously the Managing Director under the Hanneman administration.  He has served with the administration since January of 2009.  Caldwell was elected to the State House of Representatives in 2002, representing the Manoa area.  Caldwell served as House Majority Leader from 2006-2008. Caldwell spearheaded a $150 million effort focused on road repaving.  He was also praised for his work on healthcare for children.

Acting mayor, Kirk Caldwell, will look to extend his stay inside of Honolulu Hale.

Caldwell hopes to bring government transparency by incorporating the public with a series of town hall-style meetings.  The meetings would allow citizens to voice their concerns and to learn of any upcoming plans for the city.  He would also like to streamline the permitting process by appointing an “expediter”.  The new position would be in charge of pushing permits which meet certain requirements and deserve to expedited through the process.  Caldwell as also stated his support for creating “safe zones” for the homeless live on around Honolulu.

Perhaps one of the early front-runners for the Mayor’s office is former City Prosecutor, Peter Carlisle. Carlisle began his career as a Deputy Prosecuting Attorney for the City and County of Honolulu in 1978.  He held the position for ten years until leaving for a partner position at a local law firm in 1988.  Carlisle returned to the City Prosecutor’s office when he was elected in 1996. He was recently elected for his fourth consecutive term as City Prosecutor in 2008.  He has also served as an Adjunct Professor at the University of Hawaii.

Carlisle runs on a platform of fiscal responsibility where the cuts to spending will need to be made.  He has pointed to his time as City Prosecutor where he ran an independent administration which focused on being transparent and fair.  Carlisle has pledged to move this type of governing to the office of mayor.  Carlisle also is concerned over the increased financial burden of working families.  He would like to lower the tax burden facing the citizens of Honolulu.

One of the more interesting stories in the Mayoral special election is the candidacy of Honolulu City Councilman, Rod Tam.  Councilman Tam has twelve years as State Representative, eight years in the State Senate and has served the last eight years on the Honolulu City Council.  Tam assisted in maintaining and coordinating various affordable housing projects including Kukui Garden.  He was also instrumental in the legislature passing Act 221, a tax exemption for the tech industry.

Tam runs on a platform focused on finding solutions to stimulate the economy.  He favors an approach aimed at finding new streams of income for Honolulu as well as increasing private investments.  Tam would like to increase the efficiency of government by examining where the waste occurs.  He is also focused on finding housing solutions for the homeless and senior populations.  The plight of the homeless has put sever strains on both the city of Honolulu and the state of Hawaii.

The UH Manoa professor is the only candidate who has not help a political office.

The obvious underdog and outsider, Panos Prevedouros is looking to build on his 2008 campaign.  A complete political unknown, Prevedouros ran for mayor in 2008 and came in third behind Ann Kobayashi and Mufi Hanneman. The University of Hawaii professor has been viewed as a one issue candidate because of his staunch opposition to the rail transit plan.  Prevedouros has gained support due to his straight forward approach to the problems facing Honolulu.  The Greek-born professor specializes in engineering.

Prevedouros runs on a platform of reducing taxes for Honolulu residents.  The move would force the city government to make the necessary budgetary changes in order to operate within its limits.  Further elaborating on that committment, Prevedouros has suggested at setting debt limits for the city.  This would place a cap on the accrued total debt of the city.  He has also expressed a desire to find alternate options in place of the current rail transit plan.  Prevedouros has suggested a mix of toll-roads, HOT lanes and larger growth in the business sector of Kapolei.

The four candidates for mayor will need a plurality of the votes to win the special election.  This would mean a candidate could win with only 30% of the vote.  The rules for the election certainly plays in favor of the underdog Prevedouros.  He would only need a large enough split between the favorites, Carlisle and Caldwell, and a poor showing by Councilman Tam to win the race.  It will be interesting to see the candidates square off in the upcoming debates and see how well Tam and Prevedouros can convey their messages to the voting public.

Caldwell will be aided by his current position as acting mayor and will likely use his time as an audition for the voters.  Carlisle will need to hammer his position as the man responsible for cleaning up Honolulu.  The former City Prosecutor is the most recognizable name but will need to fight off the contenders as the September election nears.  It will be a very interesting race and only adds to the drama of the 2010 elections.

Join us Thursday for a look at the race for governor.  Can Mufi pull off another victory over Abercrombie?  Does Duke Aiona have any reason to worry over his spot on the November ballot?  We’ll have the answers next time!

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