By: D. Kennedy
Kirk William Caldwell is a Democratic politician and currently the 15th Mayor of Honolulu. His wife, Donna Tanoue, was a Federal Deposit Insurance Corporation chairwoman from 1998-2001. They have one daughter, Maya, together.
Caldwell first represented the 24th Representative District as House Majority Leader in the Hawaii State House of Representatives from 2002-2008. He was unable to run for council after that since he had not formally withdrawn from the House of Representatives election. On July 20, 2010, Caldwell served as the interim mayor after Mayor Mufi Hannemann resigned to compete in the Hawaii gubernatorial election.
Caldwell lost a mayoral election in 2010 to Honolulu Prosecuting Attorney Peter Carlisle, then faced former Hawaii Governor Ben Cayetano in 2012 and won the election by 7.8%. He won reelection in 2016 after beating out former Republican congressman Charles Djou.
While Caldwell has responded well to an increasing homeless population by drafting legislation to outlaw living in parks and sleeping on sidewalks, his use of the CARES Act Money and multiple shutdowns since the COVID-19 pandemic have been far from effective.
Mayor Caldwell has only spent a little over $71 million – less than 19%- of its $387 million federal CARES Act fund. Back in May, he allocated $25 million from the federal CARES Act for the Household Hardship Relief Fund. It was meant to pledge up to $1,500 a month to residents who needed rental assistance, help paying utility bills, and child care costs during the pandemic. Only $2.1 million has been distributed to residents so far, which is only 8.4%. If the money isn’t distributed by the end of the year, the city will have to spend it elsewhere or give it back to the feds.
Mayor Caldwell has also poured over $30 million into the Hawaii Police Department. He used over $2 million of the federal CARES Act money to buy more ATV’s for HPD. The department purchased trucks and all-terrain and utility-terrain vehicles to be deployed at Ala Moana Beach Park and Kapiolani Park. You’d think it’d be far more important to help people pay for rent and other necessary expenses to get our economy and tourism industry booming again, but Mayor Caldwell has other plans and a tier system that has no evidence of working.
They have used over $200k to pressure wash and disinfect Chinatown sidewalks. Around $287k was written off as salaries for the director of the Office of Economic Development and employees in the new Office of Economic Revitalization. Hawaii businesses and residents continue to struggle over political hurdles, while Mayor Caldwell pours the pandemic funds into government pet projects and a handful of salaries.
Mayor Caldwell will be succeeded by Rick Blangiardi who defeated Keith Amemiya in the November 2020 general election. Blangiardi will assume office on January 2, 2021. As an independent political candidate, we are confident Blangiardi will put the residents and businesses of Hawaii first, instead of using the pandemic as an opportunity to gain power points.