Monday, May 13, 2002

City & County of Honolulu

Exodus enlivens
Council races

Legislators, former TV reporters
and Henry Peters among
those considering running

By Gordon Y.K. Pang

All nine Honolulu City Council seats are up for grabs this fall, and there is no shortage of familiar names poised to jump into the election fray.

State Sen. Rod Tam, who announced his candidacy Saturday, is one of 10 current or former legislators looking at Council races.

Also looking at potential runs are three former television reporters who, if successful, would follow in the footsteps of outgoing Councilman Jon Yoshimura, who said he is running for lieutenant governor.

Nestor Garcia, who is considering running for a Council seat, is both a member of the state House of Representatives and a former TV reporter.

And Henry Peters, the former state representative and ousted Kamehameha Schools trustee, confirmed he may run.

The city staggered the terms of Council seats for this election to ensure the two-term-limit law that went into effect in 1994 will not result in a mass exodus of members -- like the one this year -- in the future.

As a result, those seeking seats in even-numbered districts will be vying for four-year terms while those looking at odd-numbered districts will be after two-year terms.

As of Friday, 25 people have pulled nomination papers to run for Council seats, which each carry a $43,350 yearly salary. Only one person has filed so far.

How many will seek election to the Council will be known on filing deadline day, July 23. The special nonpartisan elections will be held Sept. 21. If the winner does not get 50 percent of the votes plus one vote, then the top two candidates will face off in a runoff election Nov. 5.

Here is a rundown of the announced and possible candidates in each:


District 1 Leeward Coast, Ewa, Kapolei

Peters is the best-known "maybe" in the race. "Giving back to the community kind of runs in the blood," said Peters, a Maili resident.

"At this juncture, I need to bounce it off those who've been strong supporters, and family members."

Peters was in the House of Representatives from 1974 to 1994, including a stint as speaker.

He and three other trustees of Kamehameha Schools (then called Bishop Estate) were ousted in May 1999 after a three-year controversy over how the trust was run.

Donna Broome, a Maili resident and longtime legislative aide for Council Chairman John DeSoto, said she is running.

Three members of the Waianae Neighborhood Board have taken out nomination papers -- board Chairwoman Cynthia Rezentes, an electrical engineer by trade; community advocate James Manaku; and ironworkers union official John Kaopua.

Another possible candidate is Mike Gabbard, founder of the Alliance for Traditional Marriage and Values, who pulled nomination papers.

District 2 Mililani Mauka, Wahiawa, North Shore, Temple Valley

At least three people are set to run in what is the most geographically far-flung of the districts.

Gerald Hagino, a Wahiawa resident who served three terms in the Senate and one term in the House in the 1980s and 1990s, has started campaigning for the seat. He is a researcher and biologist at the Oceanic Institute at the University of Hawaii.

Donovan Dela Cruz, a marketing director, author and chairman of the Wahiawa Neighborhood Board, said he is running.

Ernie Martin, an attorney who heads the special-projects office in the city Department of Community Services, has organized a political team.

Also, David Stant, a former UH football player who has been the general manager of a Japanese sports team, said he is thinking about a run.

District 3 Kaneohe, Kailua, Waimanalo

Stan Koki, who spent six years in the Senate before leaving for a failed bid for lieutenant governor in 1994, has announced he is running in a district that could be drawing the biggest field so far. Koki said he has been handling commercial real estate management.

Koki won the Republican primary for lieutenant governor in 1998 and was on the ticket with Linda Lingle that lost to Ben Cayetano and Mazie Hirono.

Jimmy Wong, who was in the House and Senate for several years in the 1980s, said he has set up an exploratory committee and is leaning toward a run. He is in sales with Fed Express Freight.

Barbara Marshall, a veteran TV journalist who is now in commercial real estate, said she has been approached to run and is thinking seriously about doing so.

Kimberly Kalama, a community advocate in Waimanalo, is the only person to have turned in nomination papers for any Council race.

Donald Bremner, a former city planner, community activist and executive director of the Waikiki Improvement Association, also has announced he will run.

Others pulling nominations include Nick Houtman, an aide to Mayor Jeremy Harris, and Kaneohe residents Charles Penn and Lacene Terri. They were not available for comment.

District 4 East Honolulu, Waikiki, Ala Moana

State Rep. Charles Djou (R, Kaneohe-Kahaluu) has announced he will run for Council. Djou, an attorney who has served one term in the House, said he is moving to East Honolulu from Kaneohe because he did not want to go up against fellow Republican Koki.

Former TV reporter Jerry Drelling, now in public relations, has pulled papers and said he is still debating whether to run.

Charlie Rodgers, Hawaii Kai Neighborhood Board chairman and chairman of the Ironworkers Stabilization Fund, has pulled papers, as have Tracy Okubo, an aide to state Rep. William Stonebraker, and Terrence Teruya.

District 5 Palolo, Kaimuki, Manoa, Makiki

Council incumbent Ann Kobayashi will seek re-election after winning a special election in January to fill the remaining year on the term of convicted former Councilman Andy Mirikitani. Kobayashi also spent 14 years in the state Senate.

No opposition has come forward to date.

District 6 Downtown, Kalihi

Tam, who has been in both the Senate and House, is running for the Council and avoids a runoff against fellow Democrat Suzanne Chun Oakland as a result of state reapportionment.

The only other declared candidate is John Steelquist, a businessman, college professor and chairman of the Makiki Neighborhood Board who ran unsuccessfully against Kobayashi in the race for Mirikitani's seat but is in District 6 under redistricting.

Dennis Nakasato, who was in the Senate from 1986 to 1992 and spent six years in the House before that, is contemplating the race.

District 7 Kalihi, Salt Lake, Foster Village

Incumbent Romy Cachola, who will be seeking re-election, won a Council seat in 2000 to fill the remaining two years in the term of Donna Mercado Kim, who won a seat in the state Senate. Cachola, before that, had served in the House since 1984.

No opposition has come forward to date.

District 8 Moanalua, Halawa, Aiea, Pearl City, Waipio Gentry

Incumbent Gary Okino, who will be seeking re-election, won a Council seat in 2000, filling the remaining two years in the term of Mufi Hannemann, who left to run unsuccessfully for mayor two years ago. Okino is a retired city planner.

No opposition has surfaced to date.

District 9 Mililani, Waipahu, Makakilo

Former newscaster Garcia, in the House the past eight years, said he is close to making a decision. The Waikele resident pulled nomination papers for the seat last week.

Former Honolulu police Chief Mike Nakamura, a Mililani resident and member of the Board of Education, said he will be running for the seat. Cliff Laboy, a businessman and lobbyist for Unity House who unsuccessfully challenged Rene Mansho four years ago, also said he will run.

City & County of Honolulu

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