filing: candidates make deadline
MIKE BURLEY / MBURLEY@STARBULLETIN.COM
Michael K. Abe, a Democrat running for House District 19, held up his hand while swearing under oath yesterday at the State Office Tower as part of the process to file to run for office.
Last-minute decision sets off political flurry
» For complete list of candidates in Hawaii's primary election, click here
» Rail row prompts Kobayashi run
» Mayor's seat up for grabs on Kauai, Big Isle
What was expected to be a quiet election season opened with a dramatic flourish yesterday as established city and state politicians abandoned their safe positions for risky last-minute campaigns.
This year's Hawaii primary election will be on Sept. 20 for:
» Total seats: 112
» Congress: 2
» State Senate: 12
» State House: 51
» Board of Education: 7
» Office of Hawaiian Affairs: 4
» Honolulu mayor: 1
» City Council: 5
» City prosecutor: 1
» Big Island mayor: 1
» Big Island Council: 9 seats
» Hawaii County prosecutor: 1
» Maui County Council: 9
» Kauai County mayor: 1
» Kauai County Council: 7
» Kauai prosecutor: 1
The unexpected maneuvering added excitement to a season that otherwise has a record 20 House Democrats without opposition, as well as two Senate Democrats and two House Republicans with no opponents.
But when veteran Honolulu Councilwoman Ann Kobayashi filed to run against Mayor Mufi Hannemann yesterday, it triggered a flurry of activity at the state Elections Office on the last day for a candidate to file to run for office this year.
Democratic House leader Rep. Kirk Caldwell is considering dropping his House seat to run for Kobayashi's Council seat after former City Councilman Duke Bainum announced he would run for the open seat representing Manoa and Moiliili.
And that led to a scramble yesterday afternoon by Democrats looking to find a candidate to run for Caldwell's seat.
To make matters more confusing, Caldwell cautioned that he might still decide to run for the state House if he wasn't pleased with the last-minute candidate. Because he had filed for both his House seat and the Council seat, Caldwell will have to decide today which race he will remain in.
Meanwhile, Republicans say they are protesting the last-minute entry of Chrystn Eads, an executive assistant for Hannemann, into the Manoa House race as a Democrat, because they say she did not properly file until after the 4:30 p.m. filing deadline.
"There is no consistency in how they developed the guidelines," said Rep. Lynn Finnegan, GOP House leader.
The afternoon was marked with confusion.
After 4 p.m., Trudi Saito, city deputy managing director and one of Hannemann's closest advisers, started organizing city employees who live in Manoa to sign the petition for Caldwell to run for Kobayashi's open seat.
At 4:29 p.m., one minute before the filing deadline, Caldwell submitted his petition with 18 signatures. Twenty minutes later, City Clerk Denise De Costa informed him that he had just enough signatures -- 15 -- but only 14 of the signatures he turned in were valid.
A Manoa resident working in the City Clerk's Office signed the petition to ensure Caldwell had enough signatures. "We want everything to be legal," De Costa told Caldwell.
Caldwell said he was running for the Council "to make sure the area is adequately represented," although Bainum, also a Democrat, who ran unsuccessfully against Hannemann for mayor in 2004, had served two terms on the Council.
"Where has he been for four years? A lot has changed since he was in office," Caldwell said.
On the state side, Eads said she was standing in line to get her filing papers at 3:50 p.m. but didn't get them until 4:25.
Her friends, waiting to sign her nomination papers, were crowded outside when election officials closed the door at 4:30 p.m.
At first, election officials said Eads could not file, but Hawaii Democratic Party Chairman Brian Schatz told an election official they should "err on the side of allowing people to be candidates."
"The line was backed up and it was not the candidate's fault," Schatz said.
The election official relented and allowed Eads to go outside and collect the needed signatures and file.
She is opposed by Republican Jerilyn Jeffryes, a retired medical administrator, who said she planned to run against Caldwell to give voters a choice.