BY MALIA ZIMMERMAN – Kymberly Pine, who represents Ewa Beach as a Republican in the state House, announced yesterday she has launched a campaign for Honolulu City Council.
In an email statement, Pine said: “Eight years ago, our parks and beaches were dumping grounds and no one was helping us with this problem. My goal was to unite the community to change this, and to get the respect for the community that it deserves. I am proud of the people of Ewa Beach who helped to move us toward the goal of making it the beautiful community it deserves to be. I want to inspire the same momentum throughout the Leeward Coast.”
Pine will be pitted against sitting Council Member Tom Berg, who is seeking a second term after being elected in a special election in 2010.
Berg and Pine have a history together – Berg is Pine’s former office manager at the Hawaii State Capitol.
Berg said yesterday the more choices the voters have, the better.
“I welcome all and encourage all to run for office that want to improve our plight collectively. The council seat is not mine to hold- I do not own it and I am not out to protect it. Rather, I am here to work for it,” Berg said.
But the campaign is already getting ugly.
Berg came out swinging when asked to comment on Pine’s background: “Her record for eight years at the State Capitol as a state Representative was a total failure. Pine could not get one bill passed as the first primary introducer in all that time and is now campaigning on a record using others’ accomplishments as if they were her own.”
One example, he said, is “Pine’s claim she was responsible for restoring the funding to build the North-South Road- when the facts are, she was responsible for the vote to delete the funding.”
He said after Pine’s vote to kill the funding for the project, she went on to profess she championed the funding for it.
“This type of deception does not bode well for a candidate with eight years of legislative experience and not one bill authored that she can lay claim to. And now, she is launching a campaign for council and according to her own announcement, that is further laden with more deception as if she accomplished something,” Berg said.
The major difference between Pine and Berg is their stance on rail: Berg is opposed and Pine is in favor of the city’s plan to build a 20-mile elevated steel on steel rail system from Kapolei to Ala Moana Center.
Two recent polls show public support for the rail project is falling, with some 55 percent of the public now opposing the project, which was narrowly approved by voters in 2008. Former Gov. Benjamin Cayetano has launched a bid for Honolulu mayor to stop the project, and he’s had double digit leads in the polls over his opponents who back rail.
Berg said “Pine and other candidates for the council district one seat want to spend more and more on this rail project that will deplete funds from the necessities and the must haves and this to me, is a travesty in the making and I am trying to stop it.”
While the Ewa council district is a stronghold for rail supporters, particularly union members, Berg has championed other alternatives to the steel rail, such as Maglev, a “magnetic levitation system”, and adding more express buses.
Pine did not openly support the rail project in her campaign announcement yesterday, saying as councilwoman, she will “continue to focus on bringing good jobs to the Leeward Coast … and will also continue to work on easing traffic congestion.”
Berg said he is hoping to remain in office “to continue the fight to put funds into fixing our parks, our sewers, water mains, and beef up bus service on new and improved roads that give us front door service and serve us in times of emergencies.”
Pine said she has backed the “development of UH West Oahu, the Kroc Center in Ewa Beach, new shopping centers and Aulani Disney Hotel.” She said she “has played a key role in working with doctors at the Hawaii Medical Center site to increase their services and opening an Urgent Care Center.” And she wants to continue to focus on job creation.
Berg has had his own problems last year when he made the news after outbursts at the Asia Pacific Economic Cooperation Conference and a neighborhood board meeting. He often gets riled up at city council meetings, usually over the rail issue.
Pine and Berg can both expect more email campaigns against them by a common adversary – Hawaii Graphic Designer Eric Ryan.
Both hired Ryan in years prior – Berg hired him as his office manager at the city council and Pine hired him as a consultant for her House campaign – and both subsequently came under fire by Ryan who accused them both of cheating him.
Ryan has a history of accusing former political clients of dirty deeds, and has even come under investigation by the city police and prosecutor for allegedly impersonating a city official in an email. That case was eventually dismissed.
There have been other investigations into Ryan related to cyber campaigns he’s launched against Pine and former Gubernatorial candidate John Carroll.
Pine used the public campaign Ryan launched against her as a mechanism to get legislation introduced to tackle cyber crime and harassment. After a series of hearings with experts that she hosted, Pine has now deemed herself “Hawaii’s leading expert in cyber crime law.”
The council is supposed to be a non-partisan body, but virtually all candidates are Democrats. Berg is a former member of the Republican Party and Pine is a Republican. Former Democrat state Legislator Alex Santiago has already announced his intention to run for the council seat. Some political analysts speculate that if Pine and Berg continue to battle, they may force one another to lose the seat in favor of the liberal pro-rail Democrat.