In Their Own Words: Mayoral Hopefuls on Rail
In the seemingly endless debate over Honolulu’s proposed rail line, positions are typically reduced to “for” and “against.” That’s true, especially, in the race for Honolulu mayor. Civil Beat caught up with Honolulu’s five best-known mayoral candidates, and asked each man to articulate his position.
The acting mayor and the city’s former managing director, Kirk Caldwell, says, first and foremost, the rail plan is key to creating desperately needed jobs. Caldwell knows the proposal inside and out, and doesn’t waiver in his stance: “I am 100 percent committed to building the system that we designed for this city: An above-grade, 20-mile, 21-station system that runs from Kapolei to Ala Moana. And I want to do it now.”
Longtime Honolulu prosecutor Peter Carlisle, who stepped down Wednesday to run for mayor, says it plainly: “It’s infrastructure that we need.” But Carlisle says he's also a strong fiscal conservative. He says those sensibilities would help him manage the project best, because he would prioritize preventing “cost overruns and shoddy workmanship.”
Donovan Dela Cruz
City Councilman Donovan Dela Cruz says rail will help spur housing and job opportunities, while curbing urban sprawl. He emphasizes that Honolulu’s population will continue to grow, and city government has to be ready to serve more people. He sums up his position on rail this way: “It’s better for the taxpayers, it’s better for the environment and it’s better for the economy.”
Of the five candidates who have been campaigning longest, only civil engineer Panos Prevedouros says he would try to put a stop to the rail project if elected mayor. He says rail isn’t inherently problematic, but takes issue with the elevated design and planned route of the city’s first proposed construction phase. Prevedouros calls the plan “lunacy,” and says, price-wise, it amounts to “too much for too little.”
City Councilman Rod Tam acknowledges he supports rail, but is also quick to express reservations. He says the economic downturn affected his position, though he still favors the project. Tam says he worries about “increasing taxes beyond expectations” to finance rail. He says his priority as mayor would be to focus on alternate funding sources.
DISCUSSION: Which candidate's priorities resonate with you? Share your thoughts about Honolulu's mayor's race.