Kirk Caldwell joins gubernatorial race

By Dan Nakaso, Honolulu Star-Advertiser, 3/22/2022

Former Honolulu Mayor Kirk Caldwell announced his candidacy for governor this week with a series of ads in daily newspapers across the islands that included the headline, “Even if some don’t think I can win.”

“I wanted people to know that I am realistic about where things stand in the Governor’s race. I made some hard and sometimes unpopular decisions as Mayor, especially during that first horrific year of Covid. But it’s always more important to do what’s needed for health and safety and not for political reasons,” Caldwell said in a statement Wednesday to the Honolulu Star- Advertiser.

The ad lays out a number of actions Caldwell would push for if elected, including developing “tens of thousands” of affordable homes on state land; eliminating the state general excise tax on groceries, medication and diapers and reducing income taxes for low- and middle-income workers; extending the city’s troubled rail project to the University of Hawaii; providing housing for Native Hawaiians; “dramatically” elevating the state’s response to climate change; and statewide highway improvements.

Hawaii’s primary election will be held Aug. 13. Caldwell’s chief competition so far includes Lt. Gov. Josh Green and business entrepreneur and former first lady Vicky Cayetano.

With Green holding a strong lead in pre-election polls and campaign contributions, Caldwell told the Star-Advertiser that many have questioned his decision to run for governor. As a two-term Honolulu mayor who first won the office in 2012, he said he knows firsthand the challenges of leadership.

“I know what it’s like to make hard decisions and be the only one responsible for them,” Caldwell said. “As we come out from the dark cloud of Covid and are faced with other everyday life issues, it’s the wrong time to place our future in the hands of an inexperienced leader. I will move us forward, toward a stronger and more resilient Hawaii.”

See the newspaper ad here.