Former Gov. Ben Cayetano made it official today, announcing his run for Honolulu mayor as a candidate opposed to the city’s $5.27 billion rail project.
"I’ve waited patiently for someone to emerge and restore common sense to City Hall," Cayetano said at a late morning news conference. "No one has. And so I feel duty bound to come out of retirement and today I am pleased to stand with you and announce my candidacy for mayor."
Cayetano’s entry creates a three-way race among major candidates, pitting him against incumbent Mayor Peter Carlisle and former city managing director Kirk Caldwell, both strong supporters of the rail project.
Cayetano, the former two-term Democratic governor, is among the named plaintiffs in a lawsuit seeking to stop the rail transit project.
Rail opponents are asking the court to require that portions of the environmental impact statement be re-done to more fully consider issues such as whether the route chosen for the 20-mile rail line is ideal, or whether the steel-wheel-on-steel-rail technology the city selected is appropriate for Honolulu.
The city and the FTA contend the city has already studied those issues at length during the EIS process and other administrative proceedings.
City-funded projects "should be designed so they are consistent with our values — our relationship to our land, to our environment, to each other and to the indigenous culture that binds us together as a people," Cayetano said. "The $5.3 billion rail projects does not cut it."
Cayetano, 72, is a lawyer and the first Filipino-American ever elected governor. He served as governor from 1994 to 2002.
Carlisle won a special election in 2010 to fill the final two years of the term vacated by Mufi Hannemann, who resigned to run for governor. Carlisle won with a 39 percent plurality among four main candidates.
Because 2012 is a regular election, as opposed to a special election, if one candidate secures 50 percent plus one vote in the Aug. 11 primary, he will be declared the outright winner. Otherwise, the top two vote-getters will advance to a runoff in the Nov. 6 general election.