Walter Ritte and Former Gov. Ben Cayetano pounding poi in support of GMO labeling.
Image: mary lacques

In a decisive vote for high-speed rail, Honolulu voters picked Kirk Caldwell to serve as their mayor, rejecting former Gov. Ben Cayetano, who emerged from retirement in a bid to derail the controversial $5.26 billion transit project.

Caldwell, who formerly served as the city’s managing director, took 53 percent of the votes to Cayetano’s 45 percent. Caldwell benefitted from an expensive, and largely negative, campaign funded by the Pacific Resource Partnership, a construction union political action committee. But in his election night remarks, he decried the negativity and urged citizens to move past the transportation debate. Caldwell also benefitted from endorsements by Mayor Peter Carlisle and Sen. Dan Inouye.

Hawaii voters also chose to send an all-female delegation to Washington. Rep. Mazie Hirono handily beat former Gov. Linda Lingle in the race for Daniel Akaka’s Senate seat, while Colleen Hanabusa successfully fought off Charles Djou’s bid to reclaim the First Congressional District seat he held two years ago. Former Honolulu Councilwoman Tulsi Gabbard, meanwhile, sailed to an easy victory over Kawika Crowley, assuming Hirono’s old seat in the Second Congressional District.

In key state legislative races, House Speaker Calvin Say fought off Green challenger Keiko Bonk, with 55 percent of the vote to her 30 percent. Other Democrats also easily won re-election, with no changes to the House membership.

And though Laura Thielen, running as a Democrat, beat Fred Hemmings, the state Senate otherwise remains unchanged. All the incumbents were returned to office, including Democratic Sens. Malama Solomon, Roz Baker, Les Ihara, Mike Gabbard, Clayton Hee, Brickwood Galuteria, Brian Taniguchi, Michelle Kidani, Maile Shimabukuro, David Ige and Donovan Dela Cruz. Shan Tsutsui remains Senate president. Republican Sam Slom was also re-elected.

In the Honolulu City Council race, rail proponent Kimberly Pine trounced incumbent Tom Berg to claim the District 1 seat, while Ann Kobayashi easily beat back challenger James Hayes to retain the District 5 seat. And Carol Fukunaga eked out a victory in the crowded race for the seat vacated by Tulsi Gabbard.

Honolulu Prosecuting Attorney Keith Kaneshiro defeated Kevin Takata to win re-election.

Longtime incumbent Haunani Apoliona retained her at-large seat as a Trustee with the Office of Hawaiian Affairs, with football coach Cal Lee coming in second. Molokai activist Walter Ritte took fourth place. Colette Machado, running unchallenged, will continue to represent Molokai, while Carmen Lindsey won the Maui seat. Robert Lindsey was picked for the Hawaii Island seat, and Dan Ahuna was elected to fill the seat vacated by the retirement of longtime Kauai trustee Don Cataluna.