Retired firefighters endorse Ben Cayetano for Mayor
Retired firefighters endorse Ben Cayetano for Mayor

The Hawaii Firefighters Association and the Honolulu Fire Department have retaliated against the Honolulu Fire Department Retirees Association because they endorsed former Governor Ben Cayetano for mayor. (see the video of the endorsement here)

That according Honolulu Fire Department Retirees Association President Donald Chang, who said he received a letter from current Fire Chief Kenneth Silva that informed the retirees they are “no longer allowed to step foot in the Honolulu Firefighters facilities, can no longer hold meetings there or even pick up their mail.”

The Hawaii Firefighters Association had already endorsed former city managing director Kirk Caldwell before the retirees’ endorsement of Cayetano. Honolulu Mayor Peter Carlisle, Cayetano, Caldwell are the primary contenders for Honolulu mayor in the August 11 primary election.

“We retirees differ with the HFFA over its endorsement for mayor,” Chang said.  “I can understand the union’s disappointment but I think I speak for all retirees when I say we are very disappointed in the way Hawaii Firefighters Association and the Honolulu Fire Department  have acted.”

Chang said they endorsed Cayetano because of his experience and proven track record as a leader, and Cayetano is needed because the city “is broken and needs fixing.”
But Chang said retirees are concerned additional retaliatory measures will be taken against them if they do not retract their endorsement of Cayetano by June 4th.

Cayetano, whose grandson is a fire fighter, said the Fire Department’s retaliation against the retirees is “mind boggling” and “disrespectful.”

“Retired firefighters like former Chief Donald Chang built the Honolulu Fire Department into one of the finest in the nation. My grandson is a firefighter and I am proud of him and all of the rank and file firefighters – but I find it sad and disrespectful that the current leaders of the Hawaii Firefighters Association have retaliated against the retirees simply because they endorsed me.”

“This is like throwing one’s parents out of their own house,” Cayetano added.

Cayetano said growing up, he always wanted to be a firefighter or a policeman, but he joked he was “too short for either occupation.” Instead he went on to become a state legislator, the lieutenant governor and governor of the state, ending his nearly three-decade long political career in 2002. Cayetano opted to run for mayor this year because he is concerned about the state of the city’s infrastructure and finances and also wants to stop the $5.3 billion Honolulu rail project from moving forward because he is concerned it will bankrupt the city.