HONOLULU (HawaiiNewsNow) - Charles Djou announced Tuesday he's running for Honolulu mayor, quashing speculation that he seek U.S. Rep. Mark Takai's vacated seat.
Former Gov. Ben Cayetano, a Democrat, already announced that he is backing Djou for mayor in the non-partisan race. He says Djou is honest and well qualified for the job.
Djou said he's running for mayor to restore trust in government, put the rail project back on track, and address the homeless crisis.
While serving on the Honolulu City Council, Djou opposed the rail project. He said once the public voted in favor of the plan, he focused on trying to improve the system. If elected, he vowed to veto any further tax increases for the project.
"I'm open to any reasonable alternative that's being put out there. For me, what's important as mayor is that you show real leadership, hold the developers and contractors accountable. We see cost overrun after cost overrun," he said.
One of those alternatives is ending the rail at Middle Street and having riders transfer to a city bus. It's a plan backed by Cayetano. The powerful Democrat declined to support Djou's opponent, Peter Carlisle, because the former mayor wouldn't consider the compromise.
"Republican or not, I'm past that already. I'm a Democrat. I'm loyal to the Democratic party, but I'm not loyal to individuals who in my opinion don't do what's right for the people," said Cayetano.
A spokesman for Kirk Caldwell said the mayor is doing his best to control the cost of rail.
"The mayor has of course inherited the situation where the HART board operated a little bit different from the administration. The mayor, nevertheless, has taken a very aggressive approach toward HART and will continue to do that. They mayor's approach, of course, is focusing on things that will make the lives of ordinary citizens better," Caldwell campaign chair Lex Smith.
"Djou really has a chance. He is already well liked. He's well known. So although he's getting into the race maybe a little bit late, he has the campaign infrastructure and the funding networks to really make a pretty credible campaign," said Hawaii News Now political analyst Colin Moore.
The deadline to file to run was Tuesday.
Others who have filed to run for Honolulu mayor include: Kurt Baker, Zachary Burd, Ernest Caravalho, Lawrence Friedman, Tim Garry, Ronald Hochuli, Lillian Hong, Angela Kaaihue, Mike Powers and Joseph Wargo.