Former Lt. Gov. Duke Aiona appears to set stage for mayoral run - Hawaii News Now - KGMB and KHNL

Former Lt. Gov. Duke Aiona appears to set stage for mayoral run

HONOLULU (HawaiiNewsNow) -

Former Lt. Gov. Duke Aiona is being openly critical of the mayor, but has stopped short of announcing a 2016 run for the city's top seat.

On Monday, Aiona said Mayor Kirk Caldwell has failed to address key city issues, including homelessness.

"I think he's handled that terribly," he said, adding, "I wouldn't be considering a run for elective office if I didn't believe that we could get the job done."

Aiona called Caldwell's approach to the homeless crisis a "hodgepodge" that lacks strategy.

"He's not working with the Council. He's supposed to be working with the state but yet I now see a duplicity of services," Aiona said.

Caldwell has used stored property and sidewalk nuisance ordinances to clear homeless from high-priority areas, and his administration says Housing First efforts have helped get nearly 500 people into permanent housing, including 275 veterans. 

Aiona also took on the mayor's approach to rail. Caldwell wants the City Council to approve a tax extension to pay for the $6.5 billion rail project, but he's also taken Honolulu Area Rapid Transit to task over cost overruns.  

Aiona says Caldwell wasn't straight with voters about funding for rail during his 2012 mayoral campaign 

"He never talked about the funding of this project, how it would be over-budgeted, that we'd have a lack of contingency funds for it or anything of that nature," Aiona said.

Caldwell's campaign spokesman Lex Smith dismissed Aiona's critiques.

"We recognize there's been some challenges to his administration. He has responded aggressively to deal with those challenges," Smith said. "We look forward to defending his record against anyone who chooses to run against him."

So does Aiona actually have a chance? 

Political analysts think so, in part because voters are familiar with the former lieutenant governor.

"I think Duke has a great chance. He has tremendous name recognition. He'll be able to tap into a deep donor base," political analyst Colin Moore said.

But Aiona would also be entering what's expected to be a crowded race.

Other potential challengers for Caldwell include former City Councilman and U.S.Congressman Charles Djou, Council Chairman Ernie Martin, and former Mayor Peter Carlisle.

Aiona lost twice in his Republican bid for governor. But the mayor's race is nonpartisan, so he may not be burdened with running as a Republican in a state dominated by Democrats.

"Maybe it might be better running in a nonpartisan race," Moore said, "because then they will really truly focus on Duke Aiona the person as opposed to Duke Aiona the Republican."

Copyright 2015 Hawaii News Now. All rights reserved.

Powered by Frankly