Rail, mayoral races reign


POSTED: Tuesday, October 14, 2008

Watch for Hawaii's general election to answer some big questions, including who will run Honolulu and whether voters endorse the city-advocated steel-wheel-on-steel-rail transit project.







;» U.S. President
Local roots favor Obama


;» U.S. Representative
GOP facing uphill battle
• District: 12


;» State Legislature
GOP fights for Senate seat     
Dwight Takamine hopes to extend his family legacy with a Senate seat     
Incumbent Hooser faces frequent GOP candidate Georgi     
Debate over a hospital plan spurs a nurse’s challenge
State House Candidates: 1719 •  20232427293538404142434445464751
State Senate Candidates: 122123


;» Unopposed Candidates
No rivals in the general


;» State Constitution
Con Con raises issues of cost, need


;» Neighbor Island Charters   
Kauai mulls construction, Sunshine Law     
'Pot' issue on Big Isle ballot   
The Big Island Charter questions     


;» Maui County Council
Father-daughter duo vie for Valley Isle seats


;» Honolulu City Council
Only 1 incumbent faces a challenge
•  District 1: Waianae-Ewa Beach


;» Honolulu City Charter
Voters can derail $4B project


;» Honolulu Mayor
The unexpected battle
•  Candidates


;» Big Island Mayor & Council
Rural life versus growth


;» Kauai Mayor & Council
Newcomer leads top race


;» Board of Education
6 vie for 3 at-large seats


;» Office of Hawaiian Affairs
Molokai, office plans split rivals


;» How to Vote & Early Voting Sites
Casting your ballot on Nov. 4


;» Polling Precincts
Where to vote


;» List of Candidates
November 4 general election


On a local level, the Honolulu mayor's race is the big event of the political season, with incumbent Mayor Mufi Hannemann trying to win re-election against Manoa Councilwoman Ann Kobayashi, a City Council and legislative veteran. Both are Democrats running in a nonpartisan race.

On the national level, in the tight race for president, recent polls show Hawaii to be one of the most reliable states for Democratic nominee and local boy Barack Obama.

An American Research Group poll taken last month showed Obama with 63 percent of the vote, one of the highest percentages in the country. Local supporters of Republican Sen. John McCain, however, say their candidate still has a chance because McCain's father served as commander in chief of Pacific forces and McCain has been a frequent visitor.

In the Honolulu mayor's race, Hannemann is a former two-term councilman from the Pearl City-Aiea district who says he will not promise to hold office for a full second term; he might run for a different office in 2010. His rival is Kobayashi, a councilwoman since 2002 and Budget Committee chairwoman who was a critic of former Mayor Jeremy Harris' spending policies.

Hannemann said his campaign strategy for the general election will be to turn out a larger number of voters than the 36 percent that voted in the primary. He also says he will campaign aggressively against Kobayashi's record on the Council.

For her part, Kobayashi hopes to capture voters who would not benefit from or are opposed to Hannemann's $4 billion rail transit plan. She also says she would serve out a full four-year term.

Voters will also have a chance to register their own feelings on the rail project thanks to a Council-sponsored City Charter amendment.

Citizen interest in local government is also on the November ballot in the form of a question asking whether the state should hold a Constitutional Convention. The last was held in 1978, and the Hawaii Constitution calls for the question to be placed on the ballot every decade.

While the state Republican Party and some Democrats favor a convention, opposition to it has been fueled by local unions and mainland educational lobbying groups.

Lt. Gov. James “;Duke”; Aiona, who is already a candidate in the 2010 governor's race, is a strong Con Con supporter, but he is opposed by the state's two education unions, the Hawaii State Teachers Association and the University of Hawaii Professional Assembly. Senate President Colleen Hanabusa, a possible 2010 gubernatorial candidate, is also a spokeswoman for a new anti-Con Con group, the Hawaii Alliance.

Former Gov. John Waihee, a Democrat who got his start in local politics as one of the leaders of the 1978 Con Con, says another convention is needed.

“;I think the system ought to be kicked in the butt every 10 years or so,”; Waihee said. Opposing him is former Gov. George Ariyoshi, who argues that Hawaii risks losing its statewide education system and land-use regulations if they are changed by a new convention.

Finally, also up for voters' consideration are changes to the local political power structure on both Kauai and the Big Island as new mayors will be selected in both counties.

On the Big Island, the former assistant to incumbent Mayor Harry Kim, Billy Kenoi, an attorney, is running against Angel Pilago, a county councilman. Observers say that while Kenoi enjoyed an almost 2-to-1 vote advantage in the primary (18,176 for Kenoi to 9,309 for Pilago), the voters are split, with Kenoi winning the Hilo areas while Pilago was stronger in the Kona area.

On Kauai, former Mayor JoAnn Yukimura is hoping for a comeback victory against Bernard Carvalho. Yukimura has been a vocal opponent to the Hawaii Superferry sailing to Kauai. Carvalho, the county parks director, is backed by the supporters of the late Mayor Bryan Baptiste.