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The Honolulu Advertiser

Posted on: Wednesday, November 3, 2004

Hannemann's task: Make Honolulu great

Mufi Hannemann's stunning come-from-behind victory last night created a powerful emotional momentum that should serve him well as he moves on to City Hall.

Late last night, contender Duke Bainum conceded the race, and Hannemann accepted. But then, elections officials said several thousand absentee ballots remained to be counted. That left both camps in a state of suspended animation until the wee hours of the morning when the final tally handed Hannemann a victory.

The win was an endorsement of Hannemann's claim to be a conciliator who can bring competing factions together for the common good.

The razor-close tally also showed, however, that many voters were attracted to Bainum's constant message of "honest change."

That's a message Hannemann will need to pay attention to when he takes the reins at Honolulu Hale.

During the campaign, both candidates pledged to concentrate on basic city services. We expect Hannemann to keep that pledge and begin the gritty reality of running the city from his first days in office.

A key challenge for the new mayor will be explaining to taxpayers how these needed basic improvements will be prioritized and how they will be paid for.

During the campaign, both candidates suggested strongly that taxes or fees will have to go up to finance upgrades to an aging city infrastructure. Hannemann needs to let residents know exactly what to expect.

Another early task will be to sit down with the incumbent City Council and find the best way to work cooperatively on the many important issues facing Honolulu. For too long there has been an unnecessary environment of antagonism and distrust between the council and the mayor.

Throughout this campaign, both candidates made the not-so-subtle point that they intended to back away from a Jeremy Harris style of administration, which was long on glamour projects that boosted Honolulu's image as a world-class "sustainable" city.

These projects were described as "nice to have," rather than "need to have" amenities.

Our hope is that once Hannemann settles in, he will come to realize, as Harris did, that a truly great city deserves both quality basic infrastructure and programs and facilities that make its citizens dream.

We know Mufi Hannemann understands that need. He spoke on these themes in the later stages of the campaign.

Now, it is time to turn that fine rhetoric into reality.