GEORGE F. LEE / GLEE@STARBULLETIN.COM
Yesterday marked the opening of campaign headquarters for mayoral candidate Ann Kobayashi near the corner of King Street and University Avenue.
Kobayashi says she’d stay 4 years
The candidate has run a quiet campaign for Honolulu mayor so far
City Councilwoman Ann Kobayashi says she would commit to a full four-year term as mayor -- a jab at Mayor Mufi Hannemann, who has made public comments that he would be open to running for another office in 2010.
"That's his decision," Kobayashi said Thursday, referring to Hannemann's refusal to commit to serve out an additional four years as mayor, "but we are committed to four years. In fact, we're working on a four-year plan. We don't expect people to commit to us if we can't commit to them."
Hannemann's campaign could not be reached.
In her first public campaigning since her last-minute announcement last month to run for mayor, Kobayashi opened her campaign headquarters in University Square yesterday. She has remained mostly quiet so far in campaigning against Hannemann, who has television and print advertisements running already.
Kobayashi acknowledges that time is running out with the primary election scheduled for Sept. 20. Hannemann has raised more than $2 million in his campaign funds, $600,000 of which was in the first six months of this year.
"To me it's the wrong time to ask businesses and people for money," Kobayashi said. "The economy is bad. I hate to ask businesses and the taxpayers to be giving me money when they need it to expand their businesses or to stay afloat. That's why we're doing a lot of grass-roots campaigning."
Kobayashi has been attending mostly free community events to do campaigning, such as Okinawan bon dances (so has Hannemann), and will rely on a grass-roots campaign to send out messages to voters. Kobayashi said she intends to hold a fundraiser this month and, depending on the amount of money raised, to advertise on radio as well.
Kobayashi is shaping her campaign message to be about giving the people a voice, especially after the community furor that erupted recently among rail critics who are against the city's proposed $4 billion rail transit system.
"My campaign is about the people who are feeling that they've been left out," Kobayashi said. "It's about bringing power back to the people."
She has come out in strong support of one of Hannemann's most recent critics, Stop Rail Now, a nonprofit group that collected about 50,000 signatures using a petition initiative to place a question on the November ballot to stop the project.
"So much work was put into that initiative drive, and they accomplished it," Kobayashi said Wednesday at a City Council meeting. "I think we need to respect all the work that was put on by the Stop Rail people."
Panos Prevedouros, another mayoral candidate who recently went on leave as a University of Hawaii-Manoa engineering professor, was one of the earliest supporters of Stop Rail Now.
Dan Douglass, a Stop Rail Now organizer, said the group will not endorse any candidate, though many of its members are close to Prevedouros and have voiced their support for him.