comscore Djou receives union backing in race for mayor | Honolulu Star-Advertiser
Hawaii News

Djou receives union backing in race for mayor


    Congressional District 1 candidate Charles Djou participated in a Sept. 2014 forum at The Plaza Club. The event was sponsored by Hawaii Chamber of Commerce. Honolulu mayoral candidate Djou scored endorsements Monday from five organized labor unions that had backed incumbent Mayor Kirk Caldwell in two previous bids.

Honolulu mayoral candidate Charles Djou scored endorsements Monday from five organized labor unions that had backed incumbent Mayor Kirk Caldwell in two previous bids.

The head of one of those unions is a key figure in the midst of the controversial debate over the future of the city’s rail project.

Damien Kim, business manager and financial secretary for the International Brotherhood of Electrical Workers Local 1186, is also vice chairman of the Honolulu Authority for Rail Transportation board. Kim was appointed to the HART board by City Council Chairman Ernie Martin when it was formed in July 2011.

The other four unions supporting Djou are the Plumbers and Fitters Union Local 875, the International Association of Heat and Frost Insulators and Allied Workers Local 132, the International Union of Elevator Constructors Local 126 and IBEW Local 1260.

The mayor’s race is nonpartisan, but the endorsements are the first that Djou, a Republican and former U.S. representative, has received from major labor organizations since he was an incumbent running unopposed for a Council seat in 2006. Caldwell is a Democrat.

“The support here from these major labor organizations shows that our campaign is broad-based,” said Djou, surrounded by union officials during a news conference at his Kalihi headquarters. “We are building a coalition of unions and families from Kaneohe to Kapolei, from Haleiwa to Hawaii Kai, to turn around and restore a sense of trust that is so desperately missing at Honolulu Hale.”

Reggie Castanares, business manager and financial secretary-treasurer of the Plumbers and Fitters Union, said, “We want to bring that communication that was lost, and trust, between the executive branch and legislative branch. We need to do things more transparently. What we see in Charles Djou is fiscal accountability.”

Kim said his union is disappointed with Caldwell because campaign promises, such as some of those pertaining to the rail project, were not delivered.

After the news conference, Kim said the progress of the now $8 billion rail project frustrates him. “The people voted for a whole system, going to Ala Moana,” he said. “It is frustrating that the way it looks now, the talks now are to stop it at Middle Street based on costs.”

The mayor who once took credit for the progress of the project is now backpedaling and blaming others for its skyrocketing costs, Kim said.

Caldwell until now had gathered the bulk of the labor endorsements. Those who back the incumbent include the Hawaii Government Employees Association, the International Longshore and Warehouse Union Hawaii Longshore Division, the State of Hawaii Organization of Police Officers, the Hawaii Teamsters and Allied Workers Local 996, Ironworkers Local 625, the Hawaii Sheet Metal Workers and the umbrella, 15,000-strong Hawaii Construction Alliance.

Also challenging Caldwell is former Mayor Peter Carlisle, who finished third during the August 2012 runoff election and was eliminated from contention while former Gov. Ben Cayetano and Caldwell advanced.

Comments (72)

By participating in online discussions you acknowledge that you have agreed to the Terms of Service. An insightful discussion of ideas and viewpoints is encouraged, but comments must be civil and in good taste, with no personal attacks. If your comments are inappropriate, you may be banned from posting. Report comments if you believe they do not follow our guidelines.

Having trouble with comments? Learn more here.

Leave a Reply

    • I would like to believe that also but I think that rail has taken on a life of its own and will continue to spiral out of control due to unforeseen,unpredictable and uncontrollable construction cost…..

        • I don’t think the costs were unforeseen, unpredictable or uncontrollable at all. The crooked politicians running the project (Caldwell and Martin) knew from day one that it was going to cost 10 billion. They’ve been lying to the public all along. PRP has bought all of them, there’s no way they’ll allow it to stop at Middle street and cut their profits by 1/3 or more. NO WAY! They’ll make the GE tax increase permanent as soon as Ige completes his run for re-election. Just watch!

      • I think the people at the top of the rail project knew it wasn’t well planned out, but all they cared about was that envelope they got to stuff in their pocket and take to the bank.

  • I’ll vote for Djou only if he clearly pledges to fight any increase of the property tax of homeowners to fund the construction, maintenance, and operations of rail, including vetoing any proposed legislation.

    • With Djou’s history on opposing taxes, whether or not he makes it a campaign promise, I predict City Council will have a hard time getting tax increases past him.

      • Yes, now if we think things will get cheaper, think again. I use the Spam index. Keep checking the price of Spam and it tells you a story of how the economy works…LOL
        Not sure why the price keeps going up and even the sale price. Must be the Piggie Union is getting a bigger contract. We all expect government to keep spending less as the price of everything keeps going up. Even the carpenter hammer they bought last year for $200 is now $350!…LOL!

      • If Caldwell has his way, we’ll be fighting another tax extension or a tax increase at the state level. That will come to the county for approval and could potentially be vetoed by Charles.

    • Ending rail at Middle St or AMC makes no difference; most commuters still have to catch another bus to their final destinations.

      “HART hasn’t yet issued the two big contracts to complete rail’s final 10 miles”. The first 10 miles ends at Aloha Stadium.

      The best option without the $1.5 5 Billion Fed Funds Grant Agreement to convert the rail guide way to a 2-lane HOV(2) Reversible freeway from Kapolei to Aloha Stadium for less than $4 Billion already collected via GET. Tampa has built a Reversible Express Lane for $42 million per mile in year 2006, see The Tampa elevated structure is built similar to the Oahu Rail guide way.

      The year 2030 downtown-bound commuter demand will be 15,000 commuters per hour above the existing highway capacity, according to the city’s Alternative Traffic analysis. The reversible can carry up to 17,000 commuters per hour (200 express buses and 3800 vehicles per hour) versus 3,000 RAIL commuters per hour.

      • Your numbers are suspect! Do we have 200 buses to spare to run on the guideway? The city will need to purchase these additional buses and pay for the maintenance and operation out of our property taxes. Property taxes will have to pay for a billion dollars per year in maintenance and operation of the buses.

        • Prime example of a clueless pro-railer. We are already purchasing a significant number of buses to run rail’s feeder routes. As everyone knows, short-distance urban driving results in increased maintenance costs. Note how HART has stopped promoting that rail is “greener” than express buses it replaces or cars in general. With the advent of LNG buses and stricter auto emission standards, rail is no longer the environmentally friendly alternative.

      • How about we just cut out half the rail stations? Those are going to cost a fortune. It will be a faster commute if it doesn’t have to stop every mile!

    • His foremost position and key campaign promise is that he will veto any proposed new tax increases to pay for rail, property tax increases in particular. After all, this is the guy whose claim to fame is that he has worked in state, city and federal legislatures and never in his life voted for a tax increase.

      Ige and the State Legislature, on the other hand, are only too happy to extend the General Excise Tax increase to pay for more rail overruns, and Peter Carlisle has vowed to use this fund as his contingency plan. As he put it, “YOU DON’T KNOW HOW MUCH MORE TAX YOU PAY, SO IT’S PAINLESS!!”

      No thanks. I’m voting for Djou this time. As another poster put it, we may already be up the creek with no paddle no matter who wins the election, but if there’s even the slightest chance of being saved from this disaster then it’s with Djou.

      In any event it’s obvious that Krook Caldwell is headed for a landslide defeat. Please, folks, vote in the primary and let’s dump him as soon as possible.

      • I believe Djou will oppose any property tax increase but what will he say when the state legislature makes the GE tax increase permanent? No? I doubt it. This of course has been the democrats plan all along, just listen to what the democratic party leaders are saying about stopping at Middle st. Ige, Souki and Kouchi oppose it, they want the train to go to Ala Moana at whatever cost. Why? Because PRP has bought them too.No unions would be supporting Djou if they thought he would end the rail at Middle st.
        Caldwell is history, he can join Mufi in retirement from public service.

    • IF, the rail project continues there is little chance that Oahu and possibly neighbor island property and general excise taxes will not have to be raised. There are very few public transportation systems that don’t lose a lot on operation costs and all of them are large metropolitan areas, unlike Honolulu.

    • these unions got promised jobs from the rail sham..i guess they got shammed when they found out how little jobs rail created..i guess we can blame these unions for pushing for the rail to we are stuck with it

      • Of all those unions mentioned it seems to me that only IBEW 1186 has any real meaningful work along the rail line. I don’t see much plumbing, elevators, or insulation being used except at maybe maintenance facilities and comfort stations.

        • Not true. The Rail is the “spine of the new era of development “. It is the stations and strip malls and everything else that will need plumbing.

  • One day, Hawaii will be a giant piece of mega-concrete, that will finally have skyscraper buildings, and will no longer have local people.

    The local people, will be a chapter, in Hawaiian history books, made by the gods of the concrete empire.

    The local people, couldn’t afford to live here. The local people, got out voted by the people, who could afford the mega-concrete skyscrapers.

  • I believe Djou will focus on manage spending…not eliminate…that would be impossible. Djou has the right stuff to be Mayor and uses proper judgement to make decisions. Caldwell attempted to be a Fasi wannabe and while has the credentials…his judgement (in my opinion) was flawed.

  • need to put this guy in, no mind because he is a repub, what have they all done?, nothing, fresh thinking, i hope and get rid of the choo choo train…………

  • Djou will not win. The Democratic machine is so entrenched in Hawaii,that having a Republican Mayor in the City of Honolulu is,to say the least…..Terrifying!
    Don’t get me wrong! Charles is a cool dude and I would vote for him,if I lived in Honolulu(Thank God I don’t),He has a great business sense and a fiscally sounded mind ,which would help Honolulu a great deal! But that won’t help,with consideration of the mindset of the Hawaii Voters.Which mainly comprises of Democrats.

    Betcha, Hawaii voters will vote for the SAME! Thus,you will have the SAME problems. IMUA

    • Not necessarily so…I believe that a lot of voters are beginning to see what a fiscal nightmare the rail is turning out to be with the predictions of cost overruns in the billions and want someone else to take charge and try to hold down the cost overruns before it bankrupts the city….that why I believe Mr. Djou has a very good chance of defeating Mayor Caldwell in the upcoming elections…….

  • “Union backing” has two meanings: Djou’s either getting greased or threatened. The unions have already run the city and two generations of Oahu residents broke with their choo choo train, and they want more.

  • don’t vote for djou, his plan to terminate rail at middle street will effectively kill rail as ridership will be substantially reduced and cost the county more money to operate rail. rail needs to be completed as planned. there are funds available and nobody has filed for bankruptcy due to the surcharge. it has been in existence for about 10 years. he is too cheap, he won’t help the homeless, especially the Micronesians, who he despises. he wants others to help the homeless but not the city.

  • I grew up in a union household that had no party loyalties to anyone but worshipped Frank Fasi and we still miss him. Problem is, Frank is gone and so is the Honolulu and the times that Frank operated in.

    Everyone seems to be trying to read into this union endorsement story, suggesting that Djou was threatened, Djou is now bought, Djou used alien mind-control tricks to hypnotize the union bosses, etc., but the truth is that this massive, unprecedented rail fiasco is finally opening the eyes of John Q. Public and the vast majority of Honolulu’s citizens–be they Dems, Repubs, union or not, are coming to the realization that something drastic needs to be done, the status quo is no longer a safety net and we need to abandon some of our decades-old political practices and start working together.

    I’m sure it must shock people to see the likes of Damien Kim and Reggie Castanares supporting the likes of Charles Djou, but there’s a very, very simple reason for it: At the end of the day, Damien and Reggie represent their members and are responsible for making sure those members are working and earning a living. And NOBODY will be earning a living when there is NO money left for public/municipal infrastructure contracts because this albatross rail project is bleeding our city finances dry.

    Rail will kill public services (police, fire, EMS), public projects (roads, parks) and public expansion (infrastructure) if nothing is done to control costs, and that means a whoooooole lotta union members with no jobs. THAT is why these union bosses are backing Djou over the abject failure known as Kirk Caldwell. You go with the winner; you go with the guy most likely to do what benefits you; and right now that guy is Djou.

    Djou is probably marveling at the fact that his tightwad stinginess, for years the signature trait that people trashed him for, is now what will carry him into the third floor of Honolulu Hale.

    • I would say that your assessment is right on the money (no pun intended) that the voters are realizing what a financial disaster rail is turning out to be in light of the cost overrun predictions that will cost billions of dollars. If the cost cannot be contained more than likely the city will financially bleed to death killing public services, infrastructure and putting a lot of people out of work….hopefully Mr. Djou will be able to able to do something if he wins the mayor’s seat….also I don’t think of him as being stingy or tightwad but someone who is fiscally responsible to the taxpayers……a rarity among today’s politicians……

    • nope, the union does not hate kirk, it is martin, so he is trying to get these fringe unions (his friends) to oppose kirk. believe kim was appointed by the city council, but that guy is just like a zombie in hart and director’s meetings. he does not say anything or have much to contribute to the discussion. he seems bored and uninterested. he does not appear to take being a hart board member seriously.

    • If Djou gets in he will only be as good as Linda Lingle-R…..his hands will be tied and he’ll be blocked at every move by the Dem’s…..and there are alot more of them than Republicans.

      • When you speak about the people who will “block” him, as you say, I’m assuming you mean the legislative branch of the city, which is the city council. And in case you didn’t notice, the most influential members of the city council are either supporting him–openly or behind the scenes–and desperate to dump Kirk. This situation we’re in is so bad that it transcends party lines and partisan divides, and you can thank Kirk Caldwell and his failure of leadership for that.

        • Did you read Martin’s opine about how rail needs to be built out to UH.? Only NO on council is 80 something.

  • “The people voted for a whole system, going to Ala Moana,” he said. “It is frustrating that the way it looks now, the talks now are to stop it at Middle Street based on costs.” Yes, Mr. Kim. COSTS is the main topic here. When the people are promised an estimated $3.5 billion and we’re well on our way to $10 billion, I think COSTS would be the primary factor.

  • Carlisle wants to go to Ala Moana at all costs. How come the unions are not backing him? Maybe he comes across as Oahu’s version of Donald Trump.

  • Charles Djou is likely the last hope for this town. Cayetano would have been a good choice even if only for one term but of course, he was smeared and there was some suspected monkey business
    in the voting in areas he was expected to do very well. Jeremy Harris, Mufi Hanneman, Peter Carlisle, and Kirk Caldwell have all been unmitigated disasters as Mayor.
    In my opinion, things rapidly went downhill after Frank Fasi left and they have gotten worse and worse. This has also happened on the City Council in which I have little confidence
    especially with the current council members.
    I do hope that you all will seriously consider voting for Djou and if there are those who have not voted in the past, here is your chance to have an impact and get this town headed in
    the right direction.

  • Some union leaders just can’t see things past their noses. Who the heck is getting paid all the overtime and big bucks from the project? Really think this project will stop at Middle Street?

  • Try talk to the rank and file; plenty people going vote for Djou. They all pretty much say the same thing–that Caldwell messsed up big time and they no trust him. Some union leaders saying to back Caldwell, but the rank saying something else. This going get ugly.

    • All those longs months of you yapping about how great rail was gonna be and how sure you were everything would be done on budget, well, Djou was leading the fight against rail in the council, and everything he warned us about has come true. So, sorry sport, but it’s time to get someone in there with some sense and capability.

  • Charles Djou will get the remainder of the rail project complete,d with the utmost integrity and accountability, on time and within budget. These problems with the rail project go back to the AA / EIS. Potential problems down the line are flushed out in a thorough AA / EIS document. This whole project was driven by politics, not legal compliance. The court decision was heavily influenced by political influence at the highest levels of government. Anyone who questioned the adequacy of the document was silenced and banished to the land of “unpersons.” The chickens have come home to roost!

  • I met Djou in city sessions as well at various events. Level headed, and a voice of reason. Sadly, I believe the rail is sub optimal from beginning to end. Very hard to control at this point without stopping until everything is fully planned and bid.

  • Charles has a hand shake deal that he will complete the Rail. Kirk announced the Rail must end at Middle Street, the union are not happy about that. Hundreds of condos were sold with the promise of Rail in Kaka’ako, they condo value has already dropped.

  • Did hell freeze over? A labor union actually endorsed Charles Djou! Damn then Trump actually has more than a snowball’s chances! Geez! What strange times we live in……

Click here to see our full coverage of the coronavirus outbreak. Submit your coronavirus news tip.

Be the first to know
Get web push notifications from Star-Advertiser when the next breaking story happens — it's FREE! You just need a supported web browser.
Subscribe for this feature

Scroll Up