In the past six months, 15 candidates running for five seats on the nine-member Honolulu City Council have spent $291,534.05 on their campaigns.

That’s paltry compared to what’s being spent in the mayor’s race — more than $1 million so far with more than $2 million raised — but a Civil Beat review of campaign finance reports filed last week shows some council seats could be hotly contested based on the amount of money being thrown around.

Among the highlights are an incumbent who is spending at a feverish pace even though he’s basically running unopposed, a five-person race in which two challengers have the dwarfed the fundraising efforts of the current council member and a former state senator who has been relying on his old war chest to carry him through the campaign.

Some candidates didn’t file campaign spending reports, which were due at 11:59 p.m. July 12.

Most races have more than two candidates and will appear on the Aug. 11 ballot, with the top two candidates going to a runoff in November. The race for District 5 will not have a primary since there are only two candidates.

District 1

If money is any indicator it looks like City Council Member Tom Berg might be in trouble.

Not only is he facing four challengers for his seat but one of his main challengers, Republican state Rep. Kymberly Pine, has out-raised him 11 to 1 in the first half of 2012, though almost half of her money came in the form of a personal loan to her campaign.

Another challenger, Mel Kahele, has also outraised Berg, getting most of his $13,500 over the last six months from seven different unions. In fact, the only contributor to Kahele’s campaign who is not a union is Alexander Kaloi, a dentist.

Kahele is a union lobbyist for the Iron Workers Stabilization Fund.

Meanwhile, Berg is more than $10,000 in debt. Much of this is attributed to spending more money than he raised back in 2008 with much of the cash going toward campaign literature.

Berg is widely considered to be facing an uphill battle for reelection.

He’s been a vocal, yet largely ineffective, member of the council. While he isn’t afraid to grill city staff or citizens about issues he’s passionate about — such as rail — he rarely gets support from his colleagues on policy matters.

Berg also barely captured the District 1 seat in a 14-person special election in 2010. Of the 12,610 voters who cast ballots — 23.5 percent of registered voters in District 1 — Berg received 2,326. That breaks down to just over 18 percent.

In that same race, Kahele earned 1,645 votes, enough to put him in third place among candidates.

Berg also faces challenges from 19-year-old E.J. Delacruz, who describes his occupation as a full-time candidate, and former state Rep. Alex Santiago.

Tom Berg (Incumbent) Amount
Raised $3,970.00
Spent $1,687.23
Cash on Hand -$10,120.57
E.J. Delacruz Amount
Raised $1,360.00
Spent $1,091.63
Cash on Hand $368.37
Mel Kahele Amount
Raised $13,500.00
Spent $12,107.87
Cash on Hand $6,730.33
Kymberly Pine Amount
Raised $44,063.511
Spent $28,585.86
Cash on Hand $25,938.80
Alex Santiago Amount
Raised $23,428.58
Spent $20,721.85
Cash on Hand $2,197.64

Honolulu Council District 1 Candidates on The Issues

District 3

You’d think the way Council Member Ikaika Anderson is spending money in this race that he was fighting for his political life.

In the past six months, Anderson has dished out nearly $70,000 in campaign expenditures on signs, fundraisers, public relations, a $2,000 website, new computer (with a case) and $100 in valet tips.

Anderson, who has been on the council for three years, is trying for his first four-year term. The Kailua, Waimanalo and Kaneohe representative was first elected to the seat to take over for Council Member Barbara Marshall, who died in 2009.

So who’s he up against that has him running such a robust campaign?

Well, one person is Deborah Bossley, who hasn’t even filed a campaign spending report or returned any of Civil Beat’s requests for information.

The other is Chad Kaukani, a 29-year-old neighborhood board member who has spent $357.38, about $30 of that on a website, nearly $80 on a “banner for sign waving” and the rest ($250) on his filing fee to run for office.

Basically, this leaves Kaukani with zero in his war chest. Anderson, on the other hand, has more than $100,000 in his.

Anderson said he’s raised so much money because he didn’t know who his challengers would be until the June 5 candidate filing deadline. He also said he doesn’t “take anything for granted,” especially against Kaukani, who is “very involved with his community.”

Ikaika Anderson (Incumbent) Amount
Raised $77,700.00
Spent $69,512.13
Cash on Hand $106,581.59

Deborah Bossley

  • Did not file a campaign spending report.
  • Did not complete a Civil Beat survey.
Chad Kaukani Amount
Raised $357.38
Spent $357.38
Cash on Hand $0

Honolulu Council District 3 Candidates on the Issues

District 5

It appears Council Member Ann Kobayashi was preparing to defend her seat with some ferocity if you look at the July 1, 2011 to Dec. 31, 2011 stretch of this election’s campaign spending cycle.

During those six months, Kobayashi raised more than $67,000 and spent about $17,000. This built her war chest up to around $71,000.

But when comparing that to the last six months, Kobayashi doesn’t appear to be too worried about her competition, challenger Jim Hayes.

The most recent campaign spending data shows Kobayashi isn’t dipping into her reserves, and has raised just under $2,000.

In contrast, Hayes has raised $1,000, with $500 of that coming out of his own pocket. He’s only spent $14.80.

This lack of fundraising competition is a bit surprising considering the background of the two candidates.

Kobayashi is a long-time politician with several years of experience on the council as well as in the state Senate. She currently is the chair of the council Budget Committee.

More recently, Kobayashi has further defined herself as an anti-rail stalwart, seeking out ways to discredit the project and highlight overspending.

This is a direct contrast to Hayes, who is a geologist/environmental planner for Parsons Brinckerhoff, a major contractor on the $5.2 billion rail project.

While it’s unclear what, if any, involvement Hayes has on the project, he outlined his support for rail in a Civil Beat candidate survey. He called it “a watershed project that we cannot let slip though our fingers.”

Neither candidate will appear on the Aug. 11 primary ballot, however, since there are only two candidates in the race. They will both automatically move on to the Nov. 6 general election.

Jim Hayes Amount
Raised $1,000
Spent $14.80
Cash on Hand $985.20
Ann Kobayashi (Incumbent) Amount
Raised $1,925.00
Spent $2,300.76
Cash on Hand $70,800.56

Honolulu Council District 5 Candidates on the Issues

District 7

Based on the money it looks like vice speaker of the Hawaii House Joey Manahan really wants to stay in office. Of course, it won’t be in the state House, but rather in Honolulu Hale.

Manahan is running against Lillian Hong and Martin Han for the open seat in District 7, which is being vacated by Romy Cachola, who is term-limited.

He’s used his political fundraising experience to collect more than any other single candidate running for Honolulu City Council.

In fact, Manahan has spent more money in the last six months — $83,000 — than any other candidate has raised in that time.

Manahan’s main challenger at this point is Han, who has raised and spent about $36,000. Han also has about $10,000 in his war chest. This is Han’s first time running for office.

Hong did not file any campaign finance disclosure report.

Martin Han Amount
Raised $36,282.00
Spent $36,522.56
Cash on Hand $10,448.55

Lillian Hong

Joey Manahan Amount
Raised $106,077.92
Spent $83,054.14
Cash on Hand $23,981.76

Honolulu Council District 7 Candidates on the Issues

District 9

Former state Sen. Ron Menor dipped into an old political piggy bank to help fund his campaign for outgoing Council Member Nestor Garcia’s seat.

Menor hasn’t raised nearly as much as he’s spent in the campaign, and instead has been pulling cash from a $92,000 war chest he brought with him from previous fundraising efforts. He lost his bid for re-election to the Senate 2008 after he was arrested for driving under the influence.

Menor didn’t receive the most contributions in the past six months in this race. That distinction goes to Inam Rahman, who loaned himself $14,000 of his total $21,000 in contributions since Jan. 1.

Rahman lost his 2010 bid for the District 35 spot in the state House to current state Rep. Henry Aquino.

Next in line is Vaiuli Sua, who snagged a decent chunk of his $14,000 in contributions from individuals associated with Millenium Security Co., of which he’s the founder, CEO and president.

The fourth candidate in the race is 26-year-old junior high school teacher Sy Cullen, who received most of his $1,300 in contributions from nine $100 donations.

Sy Cullen Amount
Raised $1,300
Spent $1,211.78
Cash on Hand $250.65
Ron Menor Amount
Raised $16,205.00
Spent $44,399.10
Cash on Hand $23,819.16
Inam Perreira Rahman Amount
Raised $21,200.00
Spent $1,000
Cash on Hand $6,838.76
  • Did not complete a Civil Beat survey.
Vaiuli Sua Amount
Raised $14,038.49
Spent $9,079.72
Cash on Hand $4,958.77
  • Did not complete a Civil Beat survey.

Honolulu Council District 9 Candidates on the Issues

  1. This figure includes a $20,000 personal loan.

About the Author