Councilwoman Kymberly Pine enters fight in upcoming mayoral race
Councilwoman Kymberly Pine said Monday she will be a candidate for Honolulu mayor in 2020, a race that is likely to become crowded in a hurry.
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Councilwoman Kymberly Pine said Monday she will be a candidate for Honolulu mayor in 2020,
a race that is likely to become crowded in a hurry.
Pine joins fellow Council member Ron Menor and first-time political aspirant Keith Amemiya in announcing their candidacies for the mayor’s office, which Mayor Kirk Caldwell cannot seek again because of term limits.
Amemiya is probably best known as the former executive director of the Hawaii High School
who brought together the OIA and ILH leagues.
Pine, 49, served four House terms in the Legislature representing Ewa Beach, Iroquois Point and Puuloa and was House
minority floor leader between 2010 and 2012. She is in her second four-year term representing the
Leeward Coast as a member of the City Council, where she has sometimes clashed with Caldwell and other times joined his side on various projects and policies.
In an interview with the Honolulu Star-Advertiser on Monday, Pine repeatedly referred to her campaign as “we” while maintaining that her administration would focus on struggling families and representing the disenfranchised.
“We have support all over the island,” she said. “We’re very proud to be the candidate that’s not part of the power structure of Hawaii, but a candidate that’s for the people and fights for the people. We have a very long record of doing that. … I am no one’s rubber stamp. I work well with people I disagree with. That is my greatest strength.”
Protests on Oahu and Hawaii island show that people “feel government isn’t listening to them anymore,” Pine said. “The city needs a servant-leader that’s from the people,
not Bishop Street, to lead Honolulu.”
Pine grew up on the North Shore and has a 4-1/2-year-old daughter.
As a child, she said, she lived with 11 people in her grandmother’s cramped house in Manoa where
Pine, her parents and brother initially slept on the living room floor until her two aunts and an uncle moved out of a bedroom.
“These are the people
that are crying out, saying government is not paying
attention to their struggles,” Pine said.
While serving in the Legislature, Pine said, she helped the U.S. Vets homeless organization get organized in
Kalaeloa with the focus on treatment and housing, and later helped pass affordable-housing legislation while on the City Council.
As a Council member, Pine was in the minority in opposing Waikiki’s initial “sit-lie” homeless ban, which scattered homeless people into neighborhoods outside Waikiki and helped spawn one of America’s largest homeless encampments in the summer of 2015 when more than 300 homeless
people set up tents and hardened structures in Kakaako.
“I said, ‘This isn’t the solution. We’re just going to move people from one part of town to the next,’” Pine said. “Everything I said would happen happened.”
Instead, Pine wants to address the highest per capita rate of homelessness in the country by focusing on developing more affordable housing, mental health and drug treatment programs — and pop-up “lift zones” designed to rapidly get homeless people off the street and into treatment and housing.
In September the Honolulu Star-Advertiser’s Hawaii Poll found that Pine had a 20%
favorability rating compared with only 10% who thought unfavorably of her.
Amemiya had a 15% favorable poll rating. At the same time, 72% of respondents did not recognize his name.
By comparison, Menor had a 10% favorable rating and a 19% unfavorable rating.
The Hawaii Poll surveyed 525 registered voters on Oahu and had a margin
of error of plus or minus
4.4 percentage points.
U.S. Rep. Tulsi Gabbard’s announcement last week that she will not seek reelection in order to focus on her long-shot presidential bid will play a major factor in who runs for her suddenly open congressional seat and who runs for mayor of Honolulu.
Political analyst Neal Milner, a retired University of Hawaii political science professor, said it’s possible — but unlikely — that a nonpolitician with a high-profile name could run for mayor.
More likely the candidates will come from the City Council or possibly the state Legislature, Milner said.
“There might be someone from outside of politics,
but it never happens here,” Milner said. “It simply never happens. The candidates that come forward are going to be pretty predictable.
The list of names being discussed for either Congress or mayor of Honolulu includes former U.S. Rep. Charles Djou, who resigned from the Republican Party in response to President Donald Trump’s election.
Djou told the Star-Advertiser on Monday that he will not decide whether to run for future office until after the New Year.
Asked whether he is now either an Independent or a Democrat, Djou said, “It would be fair to say that I’m an independent Democratic.”