Mayor Kirk Caldwell was officially inaugurated Wednesday and installed as the 14th mayor of the City and County of Honolulu.
Caldwell was sworn into office by Hawaii Supreme Court Associate Justice Sabrina McKenna during a ceremony at the Mission Memorial Auditorium before an overflow crowd.
Hawaii Supreme Court Chief Justice Mark Recktenwald also administered the oath of office to Honolulu city council members Ikaika Anderson, Ann Kobayashi, Joey Manahan, Ron Menor, and Kymberly Marcos Pine. Council Chairman Ernie Martin also welcomed council members Stanley Chang, Carol Fukunaga and Breene Harimoto.
In his inauguration speech, Caldwell said he sought to foster a new era of mutual respect and cooperation with the council, while acknowledging that some differences of opinion are to be expected.
Caldwell said the main priority at Honolulu Hale should be to work together for the greater good of the community.
"After generations of mayors and governors fighting, I want to see a mayor and governor who will work together to get the people's business done."
Honolulu Mayor Kirk Caldwell, during his inauguration speech
Caldwell said he has already met with Gov. Neil Abercrombie.
"After generations of mayors and governors fighting, I want to see a mayor and governor who will work together to get the people's business done," said Caldwell.
The first order of business for the new mayor is to draft a fiscal year 2014 budget that reflects his priorities to restore bus routes, repave more roads and better maintain city parks.
"I believe the budget that's been put together is probably pretty solid, but I'm going to make sure my priorities are in that budget also," Caldwell told a gaggle of reporters.
The current city budget stands at $2.58 billion, but Caldwell does have a bit of wiggle room if he decides to increase spending. Recent property tax assessments increased by 2.3 percent to $184.36 billion, and the city has a $142 million windfall from the sale of 12 affordable housing complexes. However, Caldwell said when it comes to new contracts for public workers, he would take a balanced approach.
"Where the workers for the city and county of Honolulu are paid a fair wage (and) get fair benefits to deliver the services we all count on, but at the same time bringing balance in terms of the revenue that we've collected," said the new mayor.
The State of Hawaii Organization of Police Officers is currently awaiting an arbitration panel's decision on a new contract, while the Hawaii Fire Fighters Association expects to enter binding arbitration shortly. Two other unions, the Hawaii Government Employees Association and United Public Workers, must still negotiate agreements with the state and four counties.
Meanwhile, Caldwell is pledging to build the $5.3 billion elevated rail line better, especially as the 20-mile system approaches downtown Honolulu. The new mayor made his remarks after a short organizational meeting of the new City Council.
"We're building a good system that can be built better by mitigating the visual impact, particularly as we come into town," said Caldwell. "There's time do that."
During the inauguration, Caldwell invoked the memory of Queen Emma, whose efforts on behalf of the public established Queen’s Hospital in 1859, which is now The Queen's Medical Center. That early achievement is an example of leaders seeing beyond political disagreements of the day to ensure the long-term health of the community, Caldwell said.
The ceremony's Oli Aloha was delivered by Kahu Wendell Kalanikapuaenui Silva; the Invocation was delivered by Bishop Eric Matsumoto; the National Anthem and Hawai‘i Pono'i were performed by Misty Kelai; Kumu Hula Mapuana de Silva and Halau Mohala 'Ilima gave a cultural performance; and Reverend John Heidel gave the closing prayer.