HONOLULU — A blanket primary for Honolulu mayor was held on Aug. 8, with no candidate receiving an outright majority of votes.
The top two finishers, former TV executive Rick Blangiardi (69,661 or 25.3 percent) and former insurance executive Keith Amemiya (55,116 or 20 percent), will face off in the November general election.
The front-runners were followed by former U.S. Rep. Colleen Hanabusa (50,234 or 18.2 percent), Honolulu City Councilmember Kym Pine (40,104 or 14.5 percent), former Mayor Mufi Hannemann (27,027 or 9.8 percent), former Hawaii state representative Bud Stonebraker (17,757 or 5.4 percent), and real estate broker Choon James (5,538 or 2 percent).
Eight other candidates each received less than 1 percent of the vote.
The current mayor, Kirk Caldwell, is ineligible to run for a third term due to term limits.
Hanabusa, a Democrat who represented Hawaii’s 1st Congressional District from 2011 to 2015 and 2016 to 2019, issued the following statement to her supporters:
“I know that for many of you and like me, the very close loss in the primary election was very difficult, especially because of the hard work that you put into my campaign. So many of you have believed in me and stood by me throughout my political career. It is because of your dedication and belief that I cannot simply **kanalua** on the question of who I support for mayor.
“I am writing to ask that you trust in me again and support Rick Blangiardi for mayor in the upcoming general election.
“The common perception of Rick Blangiardi is he is a wealthy media mogul from the mainland and came to Hawai`i to run television stations. This is not the Rick Blangiardi that I have come to know, trust and put my confidence in.
“I am fourth generation from Wai`anae. I grew up coming home from school and doing my part at the Hanabusa Service Station, pumping gas and checking oil while doing my homework. It might surprise you, but Rick comes from a more working-class background than me.
“Rick’s dad was in the Navy during World War II and served on PT boats near the Philippines. After World War II, he returned to his hometown of Boston and began working in the Boston Navy Yard as a machinist. Later he transferred to the Watertown Arsenal, which was closed in 1965, causing Rick’s father to accept a transfer to Pearl Harbor.
“At that time, Rick was attending a prep school for the United States Naval Academy. In support of his mother’s strong desire to move to Hawaii, Rick agreed to enroll at the University of Hawaii, where he earned a full football scholarship as a two-year starter playing under Coach Larry Price.
“After his second season, Rick had to leave Hawaii because of family circumstances. However, a few years later he returned to UH to coach with Larry Price and went on to become Coach Price’s top assistant, associate head football coach/defensive coordinator before leaving coaching in 1977 to begin his broadcast career in sales at KGMB.
“Rick had a strong passion for coaching but had to make a career change because he had his first child on the way. He could not support his family on the salary coaches made during those years. However, rather than take a mainland coaching job, Rick chose to stay in Hawaii with the people and the place he had come to love.
“Rick retired earlier this year as the general manager of Hawaii News Now after a stellar 43-year career in media. In addition to his unparalleled success in local television, Rick is nationally recognized and highly respected as a media executive, having successfully run major media organizations in some of the most competitive television markets in the country. He is an experienced leader known for his team-building skills and creating success with failing companies everywhere he has worked.
“Rick’s wife, Karen, epitomizes the American Dream. She was born in Beijing but grew up in a refugee camp in Hong Kong. She worked for American Express in New York City and retired as the president of Charles Schwab in San Francisco. When she came to Hawai`i, she immersed herself in nonprofit and volunteer work. She served on the board of Hawaii Pacific Health for nine years, six as Board Chair. She also served on the Police Commission for the City and County of Honolulu.
“Rick and Karen are truly a dynamic couple who will serve Honolulu well, especially in the long and difficult road ahead.
“We the people of Honolulu are facing a most difficult time. This pandemic and the clear lack of leadership and the inability of our present leaders to give us a sense of hope for a future has many wondering, why vote? Many are asking will anyone make a difference?
“I can say that I support Rick Blangiardi because I know he will make a difference. I believe this is the time when we need to have his type of independence and conviction to do this job. This is not the time for someone who does not know the struggles of a working-class family or who lacks genuine compassion for us. Rick does. It is where he comes from.
“In Hawai`i probably more than anywhere else, we are defined by our families and friends. Rick is clearly someone who I am proud to stand beside and to call my friend and my mayor.”
Blangiardi is also endorsed by former Gov. Linda Lingle, former Hawaii Rainbow Warriors coach Price, and the State of Hawaii Organization of Police Officers.
Amemiya, who is former executive director of the Hawaii High School Athletic Association, has been endorsed by U.S. Sen. Brian Schatz, Councilmember Pine, former Rainbow Wahine volleyball coach Dave Shoji, United Public Workers (UPW AFSCME, Local 646, AFL-CIO), Hawaii Government Employees Association, and Plumber and Fillers Local 675. If elected, he would be Honolulu’s first mayor of Japanese ancestry.