HONOLULU (HawaiiNewsNow) - Frank Fasi, who served as Honolulu mayor longer than any other person, died Wednesday night at his Makiki home. He was 89.
Fasi's first visit to Hawaii came when he was a marine. He later settled in Honolulu in the 1940s, and ran a building supply and construction business.
Fasi made his first of several runs for mayor in the 1950s. He also ran for several other offices before becoming a territorial senator in 1958. he was then elected to the Honolulu City Council in 1964, before finally becoming Mayor of Honolulu in 1968.
Fasi quickly made his mark as a colorful and controversial leader. In his first term, he was confronted by a strike by drivers of Honolulu Rapid Transit, the privately run bus system owned by Harry Weinberg.
"The thing about the bus was something else. Weinberg at the time was on strike," said Joe Magaldi, who served as Fasi's director of transportation services.
"Fasi always did things for the little people."
Fasi traveled to Dallas, Texas, to buy surplus buses, and to start the city's own bus service.
In a 2003 interview, Fasi said, "We got the 50 buses, and I said give me 60 days and we'll have a system working. Well, we didn't do it in 60 days. We did it in 57 days."
Magaldi said if Fasi saw something wrong, "He said let's get it fixed, let's correct this."
"He was stuck in traffic one morning on Kapiolani Boulevard near the old Columbia Inn, right by where the (Honolulu) Advertiser is, and he called me and said 'I want this done.' It's 11 o'clock in the morning, (he says) 'I want no more left turns on Kapiolani at Ward Avenue going Diamond Head.' He said he wanted it done by 2. I had it done by 12."
Fasi was the same way in developing the green lawn that surrounds Honolulu Hale and the municipal building that now bears his name.
"He one weekend just decided that we were waiting to long to build the parking lot and what is now the Frank Fasi Building," said former Fasi aide Don Clegg, "so one weekend he went and got a bulldozer and went and ripped up Hotel Street at all the parking for the City Council."
"So they came to work Monday and they had no place to park. He loved it," Clegg said.
But there were failures mixed with the successes. Fasi actually lost more elections than he won, including several unsuccessful attempts to become governor.
Fasi lost re-election as mayor to Eileen Anderson in 1980, only to change parties from Democratic to Republican, and defeat Anderson to regain office in 1984.
Fasi's stint as mayor finally ended in 1994, when he was forced to resign to run for governor, again, unsuccessfully.
He also tried several times to return as mayor, the last time in 2004.
Fasi's final public appearance was last December at Honolulu City Lights, a popular event he started 25 years ago.
Fasi is survived by his wife, Joyce, their six children, and five children from a previous marriage. Funeral arrangements are pending.
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