Former Hawaii governor Ben Cayetano announced his bid Thursday to run for mayor of the City and County of Honolulu.
He joins incumbent Mayor Peter Carlisle and former acting mayor Kirk Caldwell in the race for the city's top position.
In a press conference, Cayetano spoke of his desire to end the Honolulu rail project as the motivation for coming out of retirement to run for Honolulu's top job.
"I've waited patiently for someone to emerge and restore common sense to city hall. No one has. And so I feel duty-bound to come out of retirement," Cayetano said.
Cayetano opposes rail transit and said he believes the project will cost $2 billion more than the current estimate of $5.3 billion.
"I believe that projects built by our city or state should be designed so they are consistent with our core values ? our relationship to our environment, to each other and to the culture that binds us together as a people," said Cayetano. "The $5.3 billion rail project does not cut it."
Of the money already invested in rail transit, Cayetano said he would ask the federal government to support another transportation project. "And tell them we want to do something else. Something less expensive, but which will deliver the equal level of service," Cayetano said.
Cayetano also touted his long relationship with current Gov. Neil Abercrombie, and said it would be a plus if he becomes mayor. "You see in the past, the governors and mayors have never gotten along. We (Abercrombie and I) go back to our days in the senate. I can work with him. If I'm elected, with Governor Abercrombie there, it is the best chance for this city and state to work together," Cayetano said.
Cayetano admitted he met with opponent Kirk Caldwell about eight months ago at the Kahala Zippy's.
"He asked for my support. I said, 'Look, I know you're inclined to support rail, but I what I would like from you, I'd like for you to consider the other side of the coin so to speak, thte arguments by critics of rail. And if you're going to do rail, do it right.' Kirk had to choose. He had to choose between taking that kind of approach and irritating the labor unions. When I figured out where he was going, then I decided I wasn't going to support him," Cayetano said.
"The discussion was a very frank one. You know, Ben and I have been friends through the years," Caldwell said. "I thought I was going to get his support. And I was quite frankly surprised when he told me a couple of weeks ago he was going to run," Caldwell said.
Cayetano said he plans to start talking with public workers' unions, starting Friday, with the State of Hawaii Organization of Police Officers.
"I've had some tough battles with them and hopefully that can be set aside and they can take a look at this very objectively and in their own self interest," said Cayetano, of the public workers' unions.
Over the next week or so, Cayetano will unveil a plan to deal with the huge costs associated with upgrading and maintaining Honolulu's sewer and water system.
He has formed an advisory committee of comprised of former City cabinet members and administrators headed by Sam Callejo.
Joining Callejo are Toy Arre, who served under Frank Fasi, and Ron Lim, a cabinet member in the Harris Administration.
Cayetano introduced members of his campaign committee, including Rey Graulty, who was as a member of the State House from 1982-1986 and served in the State Senate from 1992-1996.
Graulty also served under Governor Cayetano as Insurance Commissioner from 1997 to 1999, when he was then appointed to the Circuit Court bench.
Walter Heen has had a long career in public service, as a retired Federal and State judge, former U.S. Attorney, former Chairman of the Democratic Party of Hawaii, former member of Office of Hawaiian Affairs and member of the Honolulu City Council.
Also part of the committee is one of Hawaii's foremost television editors, Charlyn Honda Masini, who has a long list of show credits, working most recently as Supervising Producer on the recent APEC, Leaders Week TV produced by Pacific Focus Inc. Masini also serves as the president of Al Masini Entertainment.
Mayor Carlisle's campaign manager, Cha Thompson, released this statement in response to Cayetano:
"Rail will not bankrupt the city. It?s an investment in the next generation, offering commuters a quality of life choice in dealing with traffic misery. Mayor Peter Carlisle is committed to bringing fiscal discipline to the city. He will grow our economy by continued investments in sewer upgrades, road repairs and other infrastructure projects."
Caldwell released the following statement:
"Being Mayor means being hand on! And let?s get something straight right up front, rail transit is an important issue in this election."
"However, this election is about so much more. It?s about the buses that take people to and from their jobs everyday. the HandiVan service, bus passes, it?s about protecting people and their property, filling pot holes and repaving their roads."
"If you want a world traveler or a single issue candidate, I?m not your guy. I?ll be a Mayor who understands the details, rolls up his sleeves, digs in, gets serious, brings people together, listens to ideas . . . and solves problems. That?s how I did things when I was Mayor, that?s how we?ll get the job done ... everyday, hands on."
Jodi Leong will have a full report tonight on KITV4 News at 5, 6 and 10 p.m.