The Rail issue is also proving to be a major factor in some Honolulu City Council races. Former state Rep. Kymberly Pine is pulling in contributions from pro-Rail forces in her bid to unseat incumbent Tom Berg, who has denounced public spending to promote Rail. Berg, who represents West Oahu, also has championed GMO labeling laws and innovative approaches to temporary low-cost housing for the homeless.
Meanwhile, Council incumbent Ann Kobayashi, who has criticized the rising cost of Rail and route changes that have taken it away from Salt Lake and the University of Hawaii at Manoa, will face challenger Jim Hayes in the general election. Hayes, an engineer, is employed by Parsons Brinckerhoff, which has some $100 million in Rail engineering contracts, presenting a possible conflict of interest if he’s elected. Ironically, when Hayes served on the executive board of the Sierra Club’s Windward Chapter, he praised Kobayashi’s environmental record and endorsed her 2009 candidacy to fill the late Duke Bainum’s seat.