Former Honolulu mayor files for race, city council chair will not


The race for Honolulu mayor is heating up, but one potential candidate will not be a part of it.

Despite pulling papers, Honolulu City Council chairman Ernie Martin will not run for mayor.

Martin issued a statement Monday saying he remains committed to serving the community as council chairman and following up on key city issues, including rail and homelessness.

“To step aside for my personal ambitions at a time when these issues continue to demand true leadership would be selfish,” he wrote. (Read his full missive below.)

If Martin had entered the race, he would have challenged incumbent Honolulu Mayor Kirk Caldwell.

Caldwell issued the following statement in response:

“I know it was a difficult decision to make, but I appreciate Chair Martin’s careful consideration and I look forward to working with him over the next two years that he will serve on the Council. We have a number of critical issues before both the administrative and legislative branches on which we will need strong collaboration. The Chair has an important role to play at the Council.”

Meanwhile, former mayor and city prosecutor Peter Carlisle did file his papers Monday morning, taking his oath and signing the necessary paperwork.

“I have been in the mayor’s office before. I’ve never mixed words in terms of I would do this or do that and I delivered when I was supposed to,” he said.

He says he wants to start an individualized intervention program to help get homeless off the streets, and he wants to see to it that the the rail project is completed.

“I’d say the tipping point for me getting back in the race was seeing what was happening in Honolulu Hale, if things were going smoothly. Basically the ship has been floundering for about four years,” Carlisle said.

Tuesday is the deadline to file papers with the Office of Elections. Click here for more information.

Former Lt. Gov. James “Duke” Aiona also pulled papers for the mayoral race, but has not filed.

Read Ernie Martin’s full statement, titled “Making Hard Decisions” below:

Ever since I ran for office six years ago to join the Honolulu City Council, I believed that it was possible to be in politics to do the right thing and not to fulfill a personal ambition. As a father and a husband, I wanted to make a difference for my family and for everyone in my District. I also believe in serving my community and doing what was best for them and I have worked diligently during my time in office to be responsive to everyone while not shying away from making hard and controversial decisions.

When I entered public service over 30 years ago as an assistant groundskeeper trainee working for the City and County of Honolulu, I could never have imagined that my life would take me to serving as the Chair and Presiding Officer of the Honolulu City Council. I feel incredibly blessed and humbled by this journey.

In the last few months I have been reflecting on my journey and what was next for me. Facing the hard question of doing what I felt was right or fulfilling a personal ambition. As I have always done, today, I choose to do the right thing — I will not be seeking the office of Mayor of the City and County of Honolulu at this time and will commit to completing my term on the Honolulu City Council.

I believe that this is the right course of action given the numerous challenges facing Honolulu. As the Chair and Presiding Officer of the Honolulu City Council, I have taken the lead in ensuring that the rail project is accountable to how it spends our money and advocated for innovative and community-based solutions in addressing our homelessness crisis. To step-aside for my personal ambitions at a time when these issues continue to demand true leadership would be selfish.

I firmly believe that I can best serve my community as a member of the Honolulu City Council and continue to lead the City through these challenges in a direct and fiscally responsible manner. While I have great respect for the office of the Mayor, as I have always stated — it is the Honolulu City Council that provides the critical balance in examining the plans and actions of that office and in the absence of solid and substantive initiatives, providing leadership to ensure that the resources of the City are judiciously spent in pursuit of a better future for our people is a responsibility that cannot be abandoned for personal ambition.

In closing, I want to thank my family, friends, colleagues and supporters for their faith and loyalty — you have my commitment that I will continue to honor the privilege that you have given me to serve you as a member of the Honolulu City Council.

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