Voters on route drive rail victory


POSTED: Monday, November 10, 2008

The strongest support for the city's proposed $5 billion rail transit system came from those living in areas that would benefit directly from the project, according to a detailed precinct breakdown of the General Election results.

A majority of the voters who suffer the most from the island's worsening traffic — from Kapolei to Salt Lake into Ala Moana and as far as the North Shore — approved a ballot question that permits the city to move forward in building the elevated 20-mile system that uses steel wheels on steel rails. Islandwide, the measure passed by a 53 percent-to-47 percent margin.

But a breakdown by the island's precincts also shows that voters in many parts Oahu disagree with the project, primarily those living in Windward and East Oahu.

City officials on both sides of the debate said the precinct results were expected. While it appears that there will always be some dissension in the community, officials said they will move forward with the project and a groundbreaking scheduled for late next year.

“;I think the results show the narrow division in our community,”; said City Councilman Charles Djou, who represents East Oahu. He has consistently opposed the project because of its price, but has vowed to support it after last week's vote.

“;I still contend that the rail system is too expensive and the taxpayers of Oahu can't afford it,”; he said. “;But the question is no longer should we do rail, but it is instead how do we do rail right. I will respect the will of the people.”;

Indeed, while all East and Windward Oahu precincts voted against the project, the margin in many of those precincts was close. By contrast, the pro-rail margin of victory was high in areas along the proposed route.

The ballot question was created by the City Council after a vocal anti-rail group, Stop Rail Now, first introduced the idea of letting voters decide the fate of the system.

Earlier in the year, the group collected signatures in a petition drive to create a ballot question that would have stopped the system. The petition drive failed, but spurred the Council to create its own ballot question.

Dennis Callan, co-chairman of Stop Rail Now, said the group had focused on parts of Oahu that it thought would naturally oppose rail, such as the Windward areas and East Oahu.

“;We figured that the results would come out the way they did geographically,”; Callan said. “;In fact, a lot of our campaign efforts were aimed at our areas of strength. That was a priority to get the vote out. We really didn't do much, if anything, out in the Leeward side. We figured, perhaps incorrectly, that those areas would not be changing their mind.”;

Callan said in retrospect the anti-rail group could have done more campaigning in the pro-rail areas, focusing on the cost of the system, to sway voters to reject the project.

Most of the Leeward Coast approved the project except for the far western tip from Waianae to Makua. While residents in those area could benefit from the traffic relief that rail could provide, the system won't go that far west to directly serve residents there.

“;There is a feeling that it isn't going to do anything for the Waianae coast,”; state Rep. Maile Shimabukuro (Waianae-Makua) said.

City Councilman Todd Apo, who represents the Leeward area, said the geographic split should not stop the city from moving ahead with rail.

Noting that overall the rail question won by about 6 percentage points, he said there is strong support for rail.

“;If you put on the ballot the question of whether or not to build a new sewer system in Kailua, other areas probably wouldn't support it, but that doesn't mean you shouldn't do it, if it is needed.

“;We just can't sit around talking that these guys don't like it, we are all part of the same island,”; Apo said.

Meanwhile, a measure is moving forward in the City Council to change the proposed route from entering Salt Lake and instead go to the airport and Pearl Harbor.

The airport route was proposed by Mayor Mufi Hannemann two years ago, but didn't have the support on the City Council then. With a majority of voters approving the project, it appears that there would be ample support for the airport route now, but could cost the city at least $200 million more and could delay the project.

Voters in the Salt Lake area approved the project, in part due to community members getting out the vote.

City Councilman Romy Cachola, who fought hard for the route to go into his district Salt Lake, said his constituents feel slighted by approving the project only for a possibility it could change.

“;The integrity of the election process is at stake,”; Cachola said. “;A lot of people voted in support of the project believing the alignment goes to Salt Lake.”;


Star-Bulletin reporter Richard Borreca contributed to this report.




who voted
DistrictYes No Yes No
17 Hawaii Kai, Kalama Valley5,3936,75844.455.6
18 Kahala, Aina Haina, Kuliouou4,6735,98843.856.2
19 Kaimuki, Kahala, Waialae Iki5,1925,85247.053.0
20 St. Louis Heights, Palolo, Wilhelmina Rise 4,3784,82647.652.4
21 Kapahulu, Diamond Head4,0784,53047.452.6
22 McCully, Pawaa3,1683,23449.550.5
23 Waikiki, Ala Moana, Kakaako3,6333,63750.050.0
24 Manoa5,0555,14449.750.3
25 Makiki, Tantalus4,1294,16349.850.2
26 Punchbowl, Pacific Heights, Nuuanu4,6495,08647.852.2
27 Liliha, Puunui3,6703,84948.851.2
28 Iwilei, Downtown, Makiki3,4023,19551.648.4
29 Kalihi, Sand Island2,4282,34450.949.1
30 Moanalua, Kalihi Valley, Alewa2,9152,79151.148.9
31 Salt Lake, Tripler4,3783,48355.744.3
32 Waimalu, Aliamanu, Airport4,5483,28758.042.0
33 Halawa, Aiea, Pearlridge5,0893,31660.539.5
34 Pearl City, Newtown, Royal Summit5,4933,26562.737.2
35 Waipahu, Crestview4,0002,63360.339.7
36 Pearl City, Palisades5,2053,43560.239.8
37 Mililani, Waipio6,0933,98560.439.5
38 Mililani, Mililani Mauka7,5694,99260.339.7
39 Wahiawa3,8123,15854.745.3
41 Waipahu, Village Park, Waikele7,1503,63466.333.7
40 Makakilo, Kapolei, Royal Kunia4,7032,64064.036.0
42 Waipahu, Honouliuli, Ewa3,3952,11161.738.3
43 Ewa Beach, West Loch6,4533,45165.234.8
44 Nanakuli, Honokai Hale3,1582,61454.745.3
45 Waianae, Makaha2,5662,68048.951.1
46 Kahuku, North Shore, Schofield3,7943,62951.148.9
47 Haiku, Kahaluu, Laie4,3915,05746.553.5
48 Kaneohe4,7115,28347.152.8
49 Maunawili, Enchanted Lake, Kaneohe4,4645,47844.955.1
50 Kailua, Mokapu4,2685,77642.557.5
51 Waimanalo, Lanikai 3,8775,34942.058.0
Voted yes
Voted no