Council Support Wavers As Key Rail Vote Looms

Michael Levine/Civil Beat

Politics is a numbers game. Rail supporters and opponents are trying to tally votes on the Honolulu City Council, but council members are making calculations of their own for the election.

In the weeks since two Hawaii polls showed the public opinion has turned against the controversial Honolulu rail project, council members — particularly those on the ballot this year — have asked sharper questions and expressed doubts about the future for rail transit.

Lawsuits and the anti-rail mayoral candidacy of Ben Cayetano are among the biggest threats to rail in Honolulu. But the council could make those issues moot before they're resolved if it votes down a soon-to-be-introduced proposal key to securing federal funds.

A request from the administration to increase the city's line of credit is in the works, and it's critical as the city asks the federal government for $1.55 billion. But will the politics of rail's unpopularity weigh on the minds of council members who have to face voters?

To answer that question and to start to weigh the prospects for the key measure, let's look at the three council factions when it comes to rail, and how the 2012 election impacts each of them.

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