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The Honolulu Advertiser
Posted on: Friday, May 28, 2010

Honolulu might see 3 1/2-month mayoral gap

By Gordon Y.K. Pang
Advertiser Staff Writer

Hawaii news photo - The Honolulu Advertiser

Announcing his candidacy yesterday at Fern Elementary School, Mufi Hannemann said he'll remain mayor until July 20.

NORMAN SHAPIRO | The Honolulu Advertiser

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The state's resign-to-run law requires Honolulu Mayor Mufi Hannemann to resign from office before he can file nomination papers to run for governor.

Because Hannemann has more than two years left on his mayoral term, that resignation will trigger a special election for a new mayor to serve out the term.

But none of that can happen until Hannemann actually resigns. The mayor said yesterday that he won't do so until the July 20 filing deadline for candidates in regularly scheduled elections.

The Honolulu City Charter says that when there is a vacancy in the mayor's office that will last for more than a year, the City Council is required within 10 days to call a winner-take-all special election.

Council Chairman Todd Apo, an attorney, said yesterday his reading of the Charter is that the mayoral election can be held along with either the primary or general election.

Primary election day is Sept. 18. The general election is Nov. 2.

Apo said that if Hannemann files close to the deadline, the special election may have to be held along with the general election for logistical reasons.

"It may be difficult or impossible to include it in the primary without the city incurring some additional costs," Apo said. Considerations might include the fact that ballots for the regular election may already be printed.


Until a new mayor is elected, city Managing Director Kirk Caldwell will serve as mayor, according to the Charter.

At least five people have said they will run for mayor under the assumption that Hannemann will resign to run for governor.

They are Caldwell, city Prosecutor Peter Carlisle, Councilman Donovan Dela Cruz, University of Hawai'i professor Panos Prevedouros and Councilman Rod Tam.

Apo said he believes the period for candidates to file for mayor in the special election would have to be at least 10 days, but it would be up to the council to decide.

The last time a mayor resigned to run for governor was when Frank Fasi did it in 1994.

That year, the special election was held during the September primary.

Then-Managing Director Jeremy Harris became mayor upon Fasi's resignation, and went on to win the special election to fill out the remaining two years. Harris then was re-elected twice, in 1996 and 2000.