Mufi Hannemann was sworn in as mayor yesterday at Kapolei Hale. Standing beside him is his uncle David Hannemann and his wife, Gail Mukaihata Hannemann.

Mayor Hannemann
honors his parents

One of the first things he says
he will do is cancel the repairing
of the Waikiki Natatorium

Mufi Hannemann was having no trouble reciting the oath of office yesterday until he got to the part that said "as the mayor of the City and County of Honolulu."

That's when he choked up with emotion and paused before continuing with the oath, administered by Judge Mark Browning.

"I know when my mom and dad moved here in 1953, this probably was one of the dreams that they had, and that's what went through my mind over and over again," Hannemann said later of his late parents, Gustav and Faiaso.

Now officially the city's 12th mayor, he plans to make good today on a promise to cancel the contract to fix the controversial Waikiki War Memorial Natatorium.

"The first official act is to get that memo ready, sign off and let the contractor know that we're not going to go forward," said Hannemann, who does not want the Natatorium restored. "We've already indicated to him exactly what we want to do."

Hannemann wore a navy-blue suit draped with a maile and ilima lei to his swearing-in ceremony, which took less than a minute. He stood on a landing above the foyer of Kapolei Hale with his wife, Gail; her mother, Chiharu Mukaihata; and Hannemann's uncle and aunt David and Carolyn Hannemann.

Below, about four dozen relatives and close friends watched, snapped pictures and cheered.

Tears overcame Hannemann's older brother, Gus. He said his brother's ascension to the mayor's seat was an especially important event for the Samoan community.

"He was always that special person. With all of us, we've never had any trouble putting our eggs in one basket. We knew someday he was going to do it," Gus said of his Harvard-educated brother, the first Honolulu mayor of Samoan ancestry. "We knew this one was going to do it for us and for our people."

The ceremony was not open to the public except for media coverage. Across town at Honolulu Hale, five members of the City Council were sworn in, including the newest member, Todd Apo, during a public ceremony in the Council Chambers. Romy Cachola, Nestor Garcia, Ann Kobayashi and Barbara Marshall also were sworn in.

Mayor Mufi Hannemann embraced his uncle David Hannemann yesterday at Kapolei Hale just moments after being sworn in as the 12th mayor of Honolulu.

After the one-minute ceremony, Hannemann went behind closed doors with only friends and family present to sign the official oath-of-office documents. Hannemann is expected to hold a public swearing-in ceremony at Honolulu Hale on Wednesday, when he is also expected to give his inaugural address.

Hannemann was sworn in at Kapolei Hale mainly because Honolulu Hale, still covered in Honolulu City Lights decorations, could not accommodate a ceremony. Yesterday was the official start of his term as set by the City Charter.

But Hannemann also used his presence at Kapolei Hale to emphasize the challenges of Leeward Oahu.

He said he will also fulfill a campaign pledge to work at least one day a week at Kapolei Hale and hold Cabinet meetings there to tackle issues such as traffic and the landfill.

"It tells city employees that it's OK to actually work out here. It sends a message out there that we can reverse the traffic flow by putting more jobs here," he said. "There's going to be a tremendous opportunity for much more growth on this side of the island, but it also has to be accompanied through the proper infrastructure and the proper attention from government, and that's what I want to set out to do."

Kapolei Hale hosted an inaugural celebration afterward, attended by hundreds, including Kathleen Burch, 38, a Nanakuli teacher, and her three sons.

"I think this is a good idea," she said. "I think it gets families who have children to come on out and see what he has to offer. Otherwise, I don't think a lot of families (on this side) get that chance."

Hannemann's inaugural committee raised $530,000 to pay for inauguration events. Committee spokeswoman Mona Wood said the amount is more than enough to cover the cost of the events. A final tally of the costs will be made later this week, she said.

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