Get 2 Know: Honolulu mayoral candidate Peter Carlisle


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, including former Honolulu Mayor Peter Carlisle.

“The reason I want to go back into it is because I think the number-one thing that was part of my game plan in the long run was to make sure rail was done, and I think it’s absolutely essential that it gets done,” Carlisle said, “from Kapolei to Ala Moana or bust.”

He’s optimistic we’ll find the money to do that.

“It’s possible to look at a number of different factors that could be used and do that in conjunction with Dan Grabauskas,” Carlisle said.

Carlisle served as Honolulu mayor from 2010 to 2012, after winning a special election to fill the remaining two years of Mufi Hannemann’s term.

He ran for re-election but finished third in the primary behind Kirk Caldwell and former Gov. Ben Cayetano.

Carlisle is currently a partner with Honolulu law firm O’Connor Playton & Guben.

Also, “I’ve been doing a whole bunch of things that have to do with international law. I was part of the marijuana dispensary crowd that didn’t get a license,” Carlisle said.

Carlisle moved to Hawaii in the late 1970s, served as deputy prosecutor, went into private practice, and was then elected and served as Honolulu prosecutor from 1997 to 2010.

He says he won’t be able to run for Honolulu prosecutor again in the future because he won’t qualify.

“The statute for being prosecutor says you have to have served in some form of criminal law significantly for four of the past 10 years,” Carlisle said.

But if elected as mayor again, he says he would be a prudent manager of our money.

“You have to make absolutely certain that you’re running the city as a business or your own home, and that is, you can’t spend more than you have, and you have to get the basic services done,” Carlisle said. “To do that you cannot be spending money wildly on expanded housing projects and things like that. It just doesn’t work. And remember, we survived the greatest recession when I was in office, largely because we had to do unpleasant things. We had to not rehire when people left. We had to make sure that even when we were doing emergency things that they were controlled and we had to make a very, very lean budget.”

According to city rules, the mayor can serve up to two consecutive full terms.

“It would behoove everybody to have somebody who is capable of doing it for two solid terms, so would I do that? Yes,” Carlisle said.

In addition to finishing the rail project, he would also want to focus on transit-oriented development, if elected.

“That’s going to generate a lot of money for the City and County of Honolulu as well as be a pathway to the future,” Carlisle said.

Making a political comeback can often be hard, and this time around, it’s been more of a challenge for Carlisle to raise money for his campaign.

“I put in $4,000 of my own dollars, and so the answer is — there’s money there, but not a lot,” Carlisle said.

But having the most money in your war chest doesn’t always mean the most votes.

If Carlisle should advance to the general election, he said: “I will take about a week off, then catch up with the work I have here, and then get ready for the move to November and then come out with all guns blazing.”

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