MANOA (KHNL) - Almost a week after the primary election, civil engineering professor Panos Prevedours is back at the University of Hawaii at Manoa. His political career ended almost as quickly as it began, but he made a name for himself on an anti-rail platform, and finished a respectable third.
No other time in our state's history has a grassroots candidate made the kind of impact Prevedouros did.
He made mass transit the key issue in the campaign, and denied Mayor Mufi Hannemann a clear victory in the primary race.
Prevedouros' run for the mayor's office, changed Honolulu politics. His campaign challenged Hannemann's staunch pro-rail position.
"Citizens feel that they're locked out of major decisions, and so our political system is really, some people would say, dysfunctional," said Ira Rohter, a political science professor at the University of Hawaii at Manoa.
Rohter says the rail issue plus Prevedouros' colorful personality propelled him into the spotlight.
"He is an interesting character," said Rohter. "He's flamboyant like all of us crazy professors here. He's got articulate arguments worth listening to."
And his non-political approach made him stand out.
"Panos in a way -- and I don't know him at all -- has a wonderful engineering understanding the world which is, hey, here's a problem, let's solve it," said Rohter. "No comprehension of how difficult it is to get anything done."
Rohter says the reason Prevedouros was able to do attract 30,000 supporters was because of his clear message despite his political inexperience.
"I think part of the problem is I don't quite know what Kobayashi's message is other than she's not Hannemann because she's not opposed to rail, as Panos was," said Rohter.
Prevedouros helped deny Hannemann an outright victory. Rohter says the incumbent mayor has to redirect the conversation to win in November.
"There's sewers, there's all kinds of issues and I think that's what Hannemann will do," said Rohter. "He's going to emphasize there are five major issues the city needs to solve effectively. And I've done very well on four of them."
Two city hall veterans duking it out in November because of a grassroots candidate.