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Caldwell denies deal with mayor led to post


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POSTED: Thursday, February 12, 2009

Kirk Caldwell, grilled during a City Council confirmation hearing on his appointment as managing director, denied that he made any deals with Mayor Mufi Hannemann last year to leave a state House post to run for a Council spot.

“;There was no back-room deal,”; Caldwell said in response to a question from Hannemann critic Councilman Charles Djou. “;I wanted to do this, I wanted to run and there were no promises or commitments made. I didn't expect any offers to come.”;

Much of Caldwell's confirmation hearing by the Executive Matters and Legal Affairs Committee focused on July 22, the last day for candidates to file to run in the 2008 elections.

Caldwell had a comfortable state House seat as the majority leader but gave that up and scrambled to fill the seat vacated by the City Councilwoman Ann Kobayashi, who ran unsuccessfully for mayor.

Caldwell did acknowledge that there was help from Hannemann's aides, who were seen signing nomination papers for Caldwell until 4 p.m. that day.

Caldwell said his main motivation to give up his state seat for City Council was to push for the city's proposed $4 billion rail transit system.

“;I wanted to run because I wanted to be on the Council, and I wanted to be involved in the debate,”; he said.

After being disqualified from both races because of a technical error, Caldwell returned to private practice as an attorney but was always rumored to be Hannemann's top pick for managing director. That spot could put Caldwell in position to run for mayor should Hannemann decide to seek higher office in 2010.

“;I'm not focusing on the next job,”; Caldwell said in a response to a question whether he is considering to use the job as a launching pad to the mayor's seat. “;I'm focusing on the job that I have.”;

Caldwell also promised to have a more open relationship with the City Council, which complained of poor communication with his predecessor, Wayne Hashiro.

Caldwell received praise from his former colleagues at law firm Ashford & Wriston and state lawmakers, including Reps. Blake Oshiro and Jon Riki Karamatsu.

The nomination will be up for a vote in a Feb. 25 City Council meeting.