I’ve lived in Honolulu so long that my memory of every mayor race we’ve had in my time is getting a little foggy, but it seems that this year we are being offered a few that are highly qualified, one other with some political background but ages on the sidelines, and two businessmen with nary a day even on the City Council, And a minister who’s also a taro farmer and GOP member retired from the State House in 2006.
I figure it’s been hard for some voters to make a choice. And a good choice is truly a must this year because we’re going to be in a deep city budget hole due to Covid. A mayor playing catch-up and learn-up with city budget priorities could be a disaster for all of us.
So today is a big day. Will we pick a professional or an amateur. If the mail-in ballots go well, we’ll know sometime tonight — or maybe tomorrow.
The real pros on the Primary ballot are Colleen Hanabusa, Mufi Hannemann and Kym Pine. John Carroll was a pro many years ago in the Legislature. Since then he’s been a gadfly running for this and that and never getting even close to being elected. He’ll just draw votes from a few friends and some of those who will choose a known Republican — albeit this is a nonpartisan job.
Keith Amemiya and Rick Blangiardi are the well known businessmen. Lots of backers who want a non-political, non-trough-feeder at the helm. In a normal year that might be a reasonable goal. This is not a normal year. Running a business is not running a city with its many and contested needs and arcane methods of moving money around to pay for essential services — and a few non-essential ones that are essential to a mayor’s political survival.
The minister/taro farmer is Bud Stonebraker. Well known in East Oahu but not a chance of making a final twosome race in the General. Yes, he was once a state legislator in the House, but not one of note or leadership. Nice person, but that’s not what gets city projects done. No one expect Stonebraker or community activist Choon James to get anywhere near the brass ring.
Remember this race? Mayor and former prosecutor Peter Carlisle versus well-known legislator Kirk Caldwell and the eminently qualified but then-Republican Charles Djou. Carlyle had not set the world on fire in his first term. And it’s hard for a Republican to get elected here even in a non-partisan race. We got Caldwell.
Some of us who keep an eye on who’s who in politics sense that two of the best potentials for legislating rather than administering are Hannemann and Djou. Either probably would be a whiz in Congress.
My personal hope is that voters choose a pro — Hanabusa, Hannemann or Pine — who can run the city on day one without a learning period.
If we end up with one of the newbies-to-politics-and-government I’m going to be worried. We’re going to face a property tax crisis, a tourist crisis, enormous Bus and HandyVan expenses, and of course that daunting white elephant — the train. And all those public workers wage increases the State Legislator laid on the city.
I’m keeping my fingers crossed that the next mayor is somebody who comes to bat knowing all the rules of the game. Been there, done that.