Kirk Caldwell
Mayoral Candidate Kirk Caldwell seen earlier with SHOPO leaders

Honolulu Mayoral Candidate Kirk Caldwell issued a scathing press release yesterday targeting his opponent former Ben Cayetano.

Calling it “a shame”, Caldwell accused Cayetano of backing out of the second mayoral forum in a row that both he and Honolulu Mayor Peter Carlisle are also attending.

The three are the top contenders for Honolulu Mayor in the August 11 primary.

Caldwell said “I was informed last night that a very important side-by-side public forum with the three mayoral candidates has been cancelled because Ben Cayetano withdrew from the event. The community forum, sponsored by the West Oahu Economic Development Association, was scheduled for this Friday.

“Last week, Ben Cayetano ducked out of a forum sponsored by the Hawaii Lodging and Tourism Association. That makes two in a row. One can only hope this isn’t a pattern.”

“I will not speculate as to why Ben Cayetano wrote off these events. My point is very simple. We need a mayor who is in touch with the communities he serves and who will be out there each and every day listening to what every community has to say and working to solve their problems,” Caldwell said.

But Cayetano said Caldwell’s statements are absolutely false.

Former Gov. Ben Cayetano is running for Honolulu Mayor

“Kirk Caldwell’s statement that I backed out at the last minute of the West Oahu Economic Development Association forum is inaccurate. When I first received the invitation I politely declined,” Cayetano said.

“I already participated in two debates with my opponents, including our first televised debate. I have agreed to two more televised debates as well as two more non-televised mayor forums. Meanwhile, my Truth Squad and I have gone directly to the people by holding forums so far in Mililani, Pearl City, Waipahu, Manoa and Hawaii Kai,” Cayetano said.

Caldwell accused Cayetano of ignoring the voters on the west side of the island and other voters he would serve if elected.

“It is a shame that at this time, when Honolulu needs a mayor who communicates openly, leads by example and reaches directly into our communities, Ben Cayetano is deciding to avoid the public he claims he wants to serve. These are important events that Ben Cayetano is avoiding. The hotel industry and Waikiki have a very important working relationship with the mayor, and collaborative problem-solving is essential to keep our bread-winning industry thriving. Similarly, the West Oahu community has many critical issues and wants a mayor who is in touch with them and understands their needs. … A mayor cannot just pick and choose to whom he wants to listen and which communities he will represent,” Caldwell said.

But Cayetano said: “Three of our five forums were held in West Oahu.  On June 21st, we will hold our sixth community forum in Kapolei. By the time of the August 11th primary election, I will have met personally with thousands of people throughout Oahu, particularly in West Oahu.”

Caldwell accused Cayetano of running for mayor for just one reason:

“Killing rail transit appears to be the single purpose of Ben’s candidacy, and with commuters from the West side likely to lose so much if he is elected, it is especially worrisome that Ben opts out of engagement with this community,” Caldwell said.

But Cayetano disputed that claim too:

“Unlike the sparse crowds that attend Mr. Caldwell’s community meetings, every one of our forums has attracted large crowds of people who are tired of listening to the propaganda being cranked out by the City’s ten public relations firms and the big special interest groups assisting Mr. Caldwell’s campaign.”

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