Ikaika Anderson elected to fill Honolulu City Council seat
By Sean Hao
Advertiser Staff Writer
By Sean Hao
Ikaika Anderson wrapped up a short, costly race for the Honolulu City Council seat representing Kailua, Kane'ohe and Waimanalo by capturing the seat formerly held by his mentor.
Anderson won with a commanding 49 percent of the vote, which easily topped his two closest competitors, former council members Steve Holmes and John Henry Felix. The special election was needed to fill the vacancy following the Feb. 22 death of Councilwoman Barbara Marshall.
"I'm very proud and thankful that the people of District 3 have placed their trust in me to go and represent them on the City Council," Anderson said. "I'll get to work right away and represent them to the best of my ability."
An Anderson victory is considered a positive sign for supporters of the city's plans to build a $5.4 billion elevated commuter rail from East Kapolei to Ala Moana. Although Anderson expressed concerns about the project, he said he would abide by the results of last November's referendum in which a narrow majority of voters supported the project.
"We need to make sure it's done correctly; we need to make sure that the alignment is done to the best possibility to alleviate traffic (and) we've also got to make sure that there's no burden placed on the taxpayers of the City and County of Honolulu," Anderson said.
Holmes placed second in the race with 14 percent of votes cast. Tracy Nakano Bean finished third with 10 percent of the vote. Keoki Leong came in fourth with 8 percent of the vote, and Felix placed fifth with 7 percent of votes cast.
According to campaign finance records, Felix outspent all competitors in the race. Felix raised $58,050 and spent $128,175 through April 8, according to his filing with the state Campaign Spending Commission. Anderson, a former Marshall aide, reported raised $81,192 and spent $98,797. Holmes raised $2,200 and spent $43,101.
In contrast, Marshall, a former TV reporter, raised $31,188 and spent $21,052 in her re-election campaign last year, according to campaign finance records.
City Council Chairman Todd Apo said the margin of Anderson's victory was surprising.
"I think the voters made it clear who they wanted representing them," he said.
The outcome of the District 3 race was viewed as pivotal to the balance of power on the council that favors strong supporters of Mayor Mufi Hannemann. The election of Anderson is not expected to result in a major reorganization.
However, Anderson is expected to play a key role in ongoing issues such as rail, the city's continued use of the Waimanalo Gulch landfill, the proliferation of so-called bed-and-breakfast visitor accommodations and urban encroachment.
Overall, 11 candidates competed for the seat on a schedule that spanned less than two months. The election itself was considered the city's first mail-in election.
Overall, 54,136 ballots were mailed to residents in Kailua, Kane'ohe and Waimanalo. Fully 25,564 ballots were returned, which resulted in a "voter turnout" of about 45 percent. The last time the city held a special election was in 2002, when Ann Kobayashi won the race to replace convicted felon and former councilman Andy Mirikitani. Only 12,376 people voted in that election, which was conducted via traditional voting precincts. That was a little more than one-fourth of the 44,868 registered voters in District 5 at the time.
The mayor and council are considering raising property taxes and a host of fees, along with reducing spending in certain areas, to deal with a $50 million budget shortfall.
The sources of the shortfall include lower visitor arrivals, declining real estate values and rising unemployment.
Reach Sean Hao at firstname.lastname@example.org.