Honolulu’s second in command says he's ready to lead city - Hawaii News Now - KGMB and KHNL

Honolulu’s second in command says he's ready to lead city

Kirk W. Caldwell Kirk W. Caldwell
Ann Kobayahsi Ann Kobayahsi
Todd Apo (on right) speaks with Tim Sakahara Todd Apo (on right) speaks with Tim Sakahara
Dan Boylan Dan Boylan
Kirk W. Caldwell Kirk W. Caldwell

By Tim Sakahara - bio | email

HONOLULU (HawaiiNewsNow) - One week from tonight Mufi Hannemann will be an official candidate for governor and Honolulu will have a new mayor, a man who hopes to keep that corner office on King Street for a long time.  Do you know who he is?

It's Kirk Caldwell and he is hoping to use the time as acting mayor as a job interview.  Caldwell has held jobs in all three branches of government and worked at the federal, state and city levels.  Many feel Honolulu is in qualified hands, but some question his independence.

Caldwell already has his sleeves rolled up doing the duties of managing director, the city's second in command.  It's a job he's held since January 2009.  He says he's ready to be his own man as acting mayor and Mufi Hannemann won't be pulling any strings after he's left the office.

"For me I don't think he's ever pulled any strings and I think we've made a good team here," said Caldwell.  "I think I've gotten to where I've gotten and succeeded because I have the ability to work with others and I don't think it's anybody telling me what to do.  I have a collaborative style that I look to work with anyone and I don't think your question is going to appear in any form."

Some have concerns especially if Caldwell went on to win the full term as mayor and Hannemann becomes governor.

"It wouldn't be good. We shouldn't have a dictatorship. We need independence. He doesn't have to follow everything the mayor tells him," said Ann Kobayashi, Honolulu City Councilmember.

Councilmember Kobayashi worked with Caldwell in the state legislature, but worries about Hannemann's influence.

"People have come up to me and said do we go with Kirk?  We know him but they worry he's too closely tied to Mufi," said Kobayashi.

Some say Hannemann will be busy enough with his own campaign, while others do feel he'll keep in contact with the city.

"Clearly he has a number of projects that are important to him, namely the rail system and the waste water issues and so I think he will make sure by his continued communication with Kirk and those remaining cabinet members that things stay on track. He doesn't want to be viewed as abandoning the city and so he's going to make sure that he keeps that involvement, but we'll have to wait and see how he operates that," said Todd Apo, Honolulu Council Chair.

"If Mufi Hannemann has some control over him I can't imagine what it would be," said Dan Boylan, Political Analyst.  "He's not going to be sitting around city hall making decisions."

Boylan says Caldwell is ready for the job, but it will be tough to get a lot done in the short amount of time he's acting mayor.

"You can expect nothing except continuing the day to day operations of the city and continue to move forward as much as you can in two and a half months," said Boylan.  "If you think Mufi's been a good mayor then you'll probably think Kirk Caldwell will be a good mayor, but I doubt very much he'll be doing everything the governor, if it's governor Hannemann, tells him to do."

And while he and Hannemann have different styles, Caldwell says he'll work with whoever's at his door and in whatever role they're in.

"I think the governor and mayor should be looking for ways to collaborate. That doesn't mean at times we'll disagree with each other. I disagree with my wife and yet we'll be married 29 years come this August. So I think there will be periods of time when we'll disagree and we'll disagree strongly but I think more of the time I will be looking to work together with whoever the governor is.  I'm my own person. I've spent 40 years in politics or the private sector and I've been an independent person."

Hannemann is still busy performing the mayoral duties and his campaign spokesperson says they'll be plenty of time to talk about the transition next Tuesday.

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