BY MALIA ZIMMERMAN – Despite polls showing the majority of the public opposed to the city’s rail project, and broad support for former Gov. Ben Cayetano’s mayoral candidacy, those voters failed him.
Low voter turn out of just 42.3 percent prevented Cayetano from getting the 50 percent he needed in Saturday’s primary to win the seat outright.
Cayetano, who was expected to better with higher voter turnout, was the top voter getter with 44.2 percent. He will move on to the November General Election where he will battle former city managing director Kirk Caldwell, who secured 29.1 percent of the vote.
One of them will replace Honolulu Mayor Peter Carlisle, who sought re-election, but was ousted after securing just 24 percent of the vote, because of his hands-off style and the perception he is unable to fix the city’s dilapidated infrastructure problems.
Cayetano will also take on Carlisle and Caldwell’s powerful backers – including Hawaii’s Senior Senator Daniel Inouye and several private and public unions – who have united against Cayetano because of his stance against the city’s $5.3 billion rail project.
Pacific Resource Partnership and the Carpenters Union already spent nearly $1 million to keep Cayetano from winning the mayoral seat, targeting him with negative advertisements and “push polls” accusing Cayetano of accepting illegal campaign contributions and treating the teachers’ union poorly when he was governor.
Cayetano has denied the charges and threatened to sue to the Pacific Resource Partnership and its executive director John White for false allegations.
Former state Campaign Spending Director Bob Watada also held a joint press conference with Cayetano where Watada called the allegations bogus and reiterated that Cayetano had been cleared of any allegations of wrongdoing.
But that isn’t stopping PRP Hawaii and the Carpenters Union from continuing to flood the airwaves with negative advertisements targeting Cayetano.
Cayetano has focused his campaign on both stopping the rail project, and repairing the city’s $15 billion in dilapidated infrastructure.
Cayetano points out that Caldwell, an experienced legislator, had two years to fix Oahu’s infrastructure as its city manager and temporary mayor, but was unable to do so.
However, through media coverage and candidate debates, the mayor’s election has turned into a referendum on the controversial $5.2 billion elevated steel on steel rail project that has sharply divided Oahu residents.
9-Member Council Has At Least Two New Members
The 9-member Honolulu City Council will have at least two new members next January.
Romy Cachola and Nester Garcia will leave the council because of term limits.
In Saturday’s election, voters selected House Vice Speaker Joey Manahan to replace Cachola in District 7 and former State Senator Ron Menor to replace Garcia in District 9.
While Ikaika Anderson was easily re-elected to District 3, Council member Tom Berg is fighting to hold on to his seat in District 1.
Former GOP Representative Kymberly Pine is challenging Berg for that seat and on Saturday neither was able to secure the 50 percent of the vote needed to win outright.
The battle for District 1 race has been heated and interesting since Berg is a former office manager for Pine’s legislative office and both have strong opinions on whether the city’s $5.2 billion elevated steel rail system should be built in their district.
Berg, who often sides with environmentalists on preserving agricultural land and labeling GMO produce, is opposed to the project, calling it too costly, imposing and environmentally unfriendly.
Pine, whose campaign is getting help from the Carpenters Union, is in favor of the rail, calling it necessary to alieve traffic in the area.
If Berg loses in November, Council Budget Chair Ann Kobayashi may be the only council member remaining who is critical of the city’s rail project. Other members of the council members, with the exception of Berg, Kobyashi and Cachola, have essentially rubber stamped the project. The two newly elected council members favor the project.
Forgive or Forget?
Voters in Council District 9, who elected former State Senator Ron Menor with just over 50 percent of the vote in Saturday’s primary, either forgave or forgot why Menor was originally ousted from the Senate four years ago.
Menor was arrested April 27, 2008, on suspicion of driving while intoxicated. His two sons were in the car with him. This was in the middle of Menor’s push for stronger DUI laws.
Menor did take a field alcohol screening test that showed he had a blood alcohol level of .147, nearly double the .08 limit that deems a driver under the influence. At the time, his lawyer claimed the test was faulty.
Menor originally told reporters he not intoxicated, but attributed his poor driving to a faulty contact lense, and his unwillingness to take additional sobriety tests to an injured foot.
Menor pled no contest in May 2008 to driving under the influence with a minor under the age of 15 in the car.
The judge ordered him to spend 48 hours in prison, pay a fine and attend alcohol treatment classes.
Menor had already received substantial negative publicity for pushing through gas cap legislation that was supposed to keep gas prices down but actually created gas shortages, raised prices in some cases, and frustrated drivers and gas station owners. After the legislation failed miserably, lawmakers suspended the law.
Shortly after bad publicity over the gas cap failure and the DUI, voters tossed out Menor in favor of Democrat Michelle Kidani.