Hawaii’s primary election takes place this Saturday, Aug. 13. KHON2 will have full coverage on-air and online starting at 6 p.m.
Who will lead Honolulu for the next four years?
Voters are deciding in a race that could see a winner declared this Saturday if more than half of the votes go to one candidate.
This week, we’ll hear from the leading candidates, starting with current Honolulu Mayor Kirk Caldwell.
There was a time when being an incumbent in Hawaii came with benefits. It meant you had a list of accomplishments and a battle-tested administration.
But these days, being an incumbent comes with challenges.
“If you’re doing a really good job, you have to make difficult decisions and not everyone will be happy with them,” Caldwell said. “But it’s what needs to be done to be a good leader and I’ve stepped up and done that over the last three years and seven months.”
Caldwell wants four more years at Honolulu Hale. He admits, being a sitting mayor who has made tough decisions during an election year, can be especially tough on a re-election campaign, but he’s hopeful his administration’s many accomplishments will carry the day.
“I want to come back and continue with these met
rics, come back and continue to make a difference because road repaving is about improving people’s lives, making restrooms better, allows mothers and children to come in and feel safe when there are restroom, all of these things are about people,” he said.
Caldwell also trumpets restoring and enhancing bus routes, improving parks and playgrounds and the city’s aging sewer infrastructure and real progress with Oahu’s homeless crisis made under his leadership.
“When I think almost 1,000 people that we housed, think about every individual and every family who’s found a house under this administration and the difference it’s made in their lives,” he said.
“In life we always have that reset button that some of us would like to hit. Anything in your time in Honolulu Hale that you would like to hit maybe the reset button?” KHON2 asked.
“If I could go back and push back harder on (the Honolulu Authority for Rapid Transportation), on numbers that were presented to me and to the public on how much it would cost to build rail,” Caldwell replied.
Despite his administration’s achievements, rail has taken center stage in this election.
“A lot focus on your statement about Middle Street, fair, unfair?” KHON2 asked.
“I think it’s unfair because when the (Federal Transit Administration) said to the City and County of Honolulu and to HART, ‘Look, you have about $6.8 billion. It’s not enough to get you to Ala Moana, what are you going to do?’ I went to the HART board meeting and I said, ‘With the $6.8 billion, you get to Middle Street, build to Middle Street, build 100-percent of everything, every station, and then we work to find the rest of the money.’ They took it as saying, stop and I’m walking away,” Caldwell replied.
Caldwell says if re-elected, he will implement his affordable housing strategy plan and address Oahu’s high cost of living, and of course continue the course with Oahu’s rail project.
“We live well together and I get to be mayor of this place at this time and I’m grateful. I’m lucky. I’m humbled, and I want to keep doing it for another four years,” he said.
“You’re not pau?” KHON2 asked.
“Not pau, no,” he said.