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Kobayashi closes chapter but maybe not door on politics


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POSTED: Thursday, December 04, 2008

City Councilwoman Ann Kobayashi has ended her 25-year political career - for now.

Kobayashi, who served on the City Council since 2002, attended her last City Council meeting yesterday after a failed bid for Honolulu mayor earlier this year.

“;After so many years of being in public office, there are many things I want to do,”; said Kobayashi, who was adorned with leis as the City Council bade her farewell with a cake. “;I'm going to continue my volunteer work. There are those who still want me to run for office. I'll still keep my options open.”;

Kobayashi, 71, declined to say which office she might pursue. But her mayoral campaign manager and colleague, City Councilman Donovan Dela Cruz, hinted that she would consider another run for mayor in 2010 should Mayor Mufi Hannemann leave.

“;At our mahalo party, a lot of volunteers are really looking forward to starting early and supporting her (for) office in two years,”; Dela Cruz said. “;A lot of people are saying that they're looking forward to supporting her when she runs for mayor.”;

Hannemann, Kobayashi's challenger in this year's contentious mayor's race, has said he is open to running for governor or Congress in 2010. Councilman-elect Duke Bainum, who also ran unsuccessfully for mayor in 2004, will replace Kobayashi.

Kobayashi's experience in public office includes 14 years in the state Senate. She served in the Legislature from 1980 to 1994, when she unsuccessfully ran for mayor and lost to Jeremy Harris.

She resurfaced in 2002, when she won a special election to serve out the term of Councilman Andy Mirikitani. Mirikitani resigned the previous year after being convicted of wire fraud, theft, bribery, extortion and witness tampering in what prosecutors called a kickback scheme.

She was unopposed when her seat came up again in 2004, and she likely would have faced no opposition again this year had she sought re-election to the City Council seat representing the Manoa District.

Instead, she chose to challenge Hannemann in a race that focused on his proposed $4 billion steel rail transit system.

“;That was my greatest disappointment, seeing steel-on-steel going through our lovely city,”; Kobayashi said.

The City Council also said goodbye to city Clerk Denise De Costa, who is retiring this year.