Mayor Kirk Caldwell

| Suggest an Edit

Honolulu Mayor Kirk Caldwell is in his second term as Honolulu’s mayor.

In 2016 he defeated Charles Djou in a close race to return to his favorite and most troublesome project, the light rail project known as the Honolulu Authority for Rapid Transit, HART. After fits and starts the rail project got within spitting distance of downtown and ran short of money.

Funds from the federal government were approved, but the legislature was at odds over funding the remainder of $1.5 billion. House legislators wanted to let the tourists fund it through an increase in the tourist hotel tax but senators favored letting tourists and residents pay by raising the General Excise Tax. Caldwell proposes increases in Oahu’s fuel tax, vehicle weight tax and parking fees to show the city has “skin in the game.”

Gov. David Ige said he doubted the legislators would be called back into session to reconsider what they had done or undone if they could not pick one. The lack of an agreement leaves the 20-mile-long rail project, which is over budget and far behind schedule, with a shortfall of about $3 billion. Then the Council Budget Committee advanced a bill on May 4 that would allow the city to use any revenue to pay for rail, including property taxes. A second measure that moved forward would allow the city to use more funding from the general excise tax to pay for rail, provided the Legislature approves it.

Caldwell first became the elected mayor when he defeated Ben Cayetano in a run-off election on Nov. 6, 2012.

Caldwell served as city managing director from 2009 to 2010.

Following Mufi Hannemann‘s resignation from his position as Honolulu mayor, Caldwell became acting mayor on July 20, 2010. Caldwell hoped to make this position permanent: He ran for Honolulu mayor but lost the Sept. 18, 2010 special election contest to former Honolulu City Prosecutor Peter Carlisle.

After taking some time off after his loss in the 2010 mayoral election, Caldwell returned to work as an attorney for the Honolulu firm Ashford & Wriston.

Caldwell formerly represented the 24th District in the Hawaii State House of Representatives in 2002. He eventually worked his way up to become the House majority leader from 2006 to 2008.

Caldwell was born Sep. 4, 1952, in Waipahu. He was raised on the Big Island of Hawaii where he attended Hilo Union School and Hawaii Preparatory Academy. In 1971, he earned a B.A in Economics at Tufts University. Later, he graduated from the Fletcher School of Law and Diplomacy and William S. Richardson School of Law.

When Caldwell finished his education, he began working in the private Hawaii law firm of Ashford and Wriston, LLP. In 1978, he left the private sector to work with Sen. Daniel K. Inouye in Washington D.C. After six years, he served as a clerk for Williams Richardson, former chief justice of the Hawaii Supreme Court.

Caldwell was elected as the representative of the 24th District in the Hawaii State House of Representatives and served as vice president of the Transportation Committee in 2003. In 2005, he became the chairman of the Labor and Employment Committee and later served as the House majority leader for two years from 2006 to 2008.

Caldwell lives with his wife Donna Tanoue and daughter Maya in Manoa.

As Honolulu’s managing director, Caldwell was a strong advocate for the city’s planned rail line. His support for rail became a key position in his run for mayor.

While holding the position as House majority leader, Caldwell focused on decreasing taxes and providing healthcare for children. In his current position as managing director, he has played a role in helping address transit and homelessness in Honolulu. Caldwell also “expedited $150 million in road repaving, creating hundreds of new jobs,” according to his campaign website.

Mayor Kirk Caldwell

November 2017

Thursday, November 16

Caldwell Nominates Former TV Executive For Police Commission

July 2017

Tuesday, July 25

Honolulu’s Potholes Are Costing Drivers — And Taxpayers — Millions

Thursday, July 20

Neal Milner: Trump, Caldwell And Ige Took Different Paths To Unpopularity

June 2017

Wednesday, June 14

Mayor Caldwell Sells $72,000 Of Territorial Bank Stock

Thursday, June 1

Civil Beat Poll: Caldwell Is As Unpopular As Trump In Hawaii

May 2017

Tuesday, May 30

HART Takes Its Train Out For A Test Drive Along The Rail Guideway

Monday, May 22

5 Percent Pay Raises Recommended For Mayor And Top Officials

Monday, May 8

Honolulu Rail: Caldwell’s Lack Of Leadership Is A Continuing Problem

January 2017

Monday, January 23

Lawmakers Demand Answers To Honolulu Rail’s Ballooning Costs

Tuesday, January 10

City Council Members ‘Leery’ Of HPD Chief’s Retirement Deal

Monday, January 9

Is HPD Chief’s Departure Just The Beginning Of An ‘Ugly’ Mess?

December 2016

Tuesday, December 13

Caldwell Outspent Djou Nearly 4-To-1 In Honolulu Mayor’s Race

November 2016

Monday, November 14

Reader Rep: Was It Fair To Turn Kirk Caldwell Into A Cardboard Cutout?

Tuesday, November 8

Mayor Kirk Caldwell Re-Elected Over Charles Djou

Friday, November 4

3 Civil Questions For Kirk Caldwell And Charles Djou — Episode 4

Wednesday, November 2

VIDEO: 3 Civil Questions For Caldwell and Djou — Episode 2

Tuesday, November 1

VIDEO: 3 Civil Questions For Kirk Caldwell And Charles Djou

October 2016

Monday, October 31

Caldwell Camp Rejects Djou Debate Scheme As ‘Campaign Stunt’

Thursday, October 27

Caldwell Campaign: We May Have Been Duped With Newspaper Ad

Tuesday, October 25

TV Spots — And One Big Print Ad — Spice Up Mayor’s Race

Friday, October 21

Djou Says Caldwell Lied About Bank Compensation

Thursday, October 20

Honolulu Voters Don’t Love Rail, But They Still Want The Job Done

Wednesday, October 19

Caldwell Up 7 Points Over Djou In Honolulu Mayor’s Race

Friday, October 14

Both Mayoral Candidates Ask: Better Off Than 4 Years Ago?

Wednesday, October 12

Djou, Caldwell Make Pitches To Native Hawaiian Audience

Monday, October 3

Caldwell Aide Works Campaign For Free But Gets City Contracts

Saturday, October 1

Honolulu Mayoral Candidates Vie For Coveted Kupuna Vote

September 2016

Thursday, September 29

9/11 Becomes Boiling Point In Honolulu Mayoral Debate

Wednesday, September 28

Djou To Skip PBS Honolulu Mayoral Debate With Caldwell

Some See Danger As Honolulu’s Yellow Streetlights Turn White

Monday, September 26

Honolulu Misuses Hanauma Bay Funds, Nonprofit Group Claims

Why Is Ron Taketa Still On The Honolulu Police Commission?

Monday, September 5

Djou Rakes In Campaign Cash, Caldwell Spends Heavily

August 2016

Saturday, August 13

Caldwell, Djou Headed For Runoff In Honolulu Mayor’s Race

Wednesday, August 10

How Will Honolulu’s Next Mayor Pay To Finish The Rail Project?

Monday, August 8

Caldwell Touts Democratic Support

How Ethics Commission Upheaval Is Playing Out In The Mayor’s Race

Some New Ads In The Mayor’s Race Stretch The Truth

Friday, August 5

With 60 Percent Approval, Obama Still Feeling The Aloha

Thursday, August 4

How Kirk Caldwell Blew Through $500K In Just 29 Days

Wednesday, August 3

Djou Holds A 9-Point Lead Over Caldwell In Mayor’s Race

Caldwell’s Inaction On Police Reform Draws Political Attacks

Tuesday, August 2

Ad Watch: Carlisle Says You Can Trust Him To Build Rail Right

Monday, August 1

Djou, Caldwell Lob Ethics Charges

July 2016

Tuesday, July 26

As Caldwell And Djou Sharpen Attacks, Carlisle Goes For Laughs

Friday, July 22

Caldwell Ad ‘Fact-Checks’ Djou on Rail, Homelessness

Thursday, July 14

Djou Raises Nearly $260,000 In First Weeks Of Mayoral Campaign

In Honolulu Mayoral Forum, It’s All About The Rail Project

Djou’s First TV Ad Attacks Mayor Caldwell As Untrustworthy

Sunday, July 10

Mayoral Candidates Raising Cash

Thursday, July 7

Honolulu Mayoral Candidates Trade Barbs Over Canceled Debate

Wednesday, July 6

Honolulu Mayor’s Six-Figure Compensation From Bank Draws Fire

June 2016

Tuesday, June 28

In Latest Campaign Spot, Caldwell Accentuates The Positive

Monday, June 27

5 Labor Groups Backing Djou

Friday, June 24

One More Fundraiser For Caldwell

Thursday, June 16

Djou Challenges Mayor To Call For Return of Honolulu Ethics Director

Hopelessly Over-Budget, Rail Should Stop At Middle Street, Mayor Says

Wednesday, June 15

Honolulu Ethics Director Quits Over Direction Commission Is Headed

Djou Gets Some Democratic Support In Campaign For Mayor

Monday, June 13

How Caldwell Has Undermined The Honolulu Ethics Commission

Monday, June 6

Carlisle To Run For Honolulu Mayor; Martin Opts Out

Friday, June 3

Caldwell Nominates ‘Breath Of Fresh Air’ For Honolulu Police Commission

Two More Unions Supporting Caldwell

May 2016

Sunday, May 29

Bernie’s Backers Prevail At Democratic State Convention

Saturday, May 28

David Ige On Hawaii Democrats: ‘We Embrace Diversity’

Wednesday, May 25

No Martin Mayoral Decision Yet

Thursday, May 19

Totto Tells Ethics Commission To Scrap ‘Silly’ Time Sheet Rules

Wednesday, May 18

Two More Unions Back Caldwell

Friday, May 13

Carlisle Wants To Be Mayor Of Honolulu, Again

Friday, May 6

Caldwell Gets Ethics Complaints

Peter Savio For Honolulu Mayor?

Wednesday, May 4

Caldwell: ‘I Want To Keep This Job’

April 2016

Thursday, April 21

Hanabusa Takes Over As Chairwoman Of Honolulu Rail Board

Wednesday, April 20

Caldwell Taps Insurance Exec For HART

Tuesday, April 19

Martin Pulls Papers For Mayoral Bid

Saturday, April 16

Caldwell Opens Campaign Headquarters

Monday, April 11

HART Board Chairman Resigns Amid Questions About Rail Cost Overruns

‘A Bum Job:’ Trust In Honolulu’s Police Commission Crumbles

March 2016

Wednesday, March 23

Can Caldwell’s Relationship With The City Council Get Any Worse?

Tuesday, March 22

More Fundraising For Kirk Caldwell

What’s Happened To Mayor’s ‘Bold’ Affordable Housing Plan?

Wednesday, March 16

Council Overrides Mayor’s Veto Of Recycling Subsidy

Thursday, March 10

Another Ernie Martin Fundraiser

February 2016

Wednesday, February 24

My Mayor, My Boss: Employees Contribute To Caldwell Campaign

Monday, February 1

Caldwell Signs Honolulu Rail Tax Extension

December 2015

Wednesday, December 16

Caldwell: Honolulu On Right Track In Tackling Homelessness

November 2015

Monday, November 16

Caldwell: Honolulu Would Be ‘Lolo’ To Imperil Its Federal Funds for Rail

October 2015

Monday, October 12

Kirk Caldwell’s Many ‘Tokens of Aloha’ Came From Influential Parties

August 2015

Thursday, August 27

Caldwell: Honolulu to Resume ‘Phased Enforcement’ at Kakaako Encampment

June 2015

Tuesday, June 30

Honolulu Ethics Commission Needs to Scrap Its New Anti-Media Policy

April 2015

Thursday, April 9

Hawaii Charge Card Scandal Prompts Honolulu to Release Info on Its Cards

March 2015

Tuesday, March 31

Curt Sanburn: Kirk Caldwell’s Designs on the Blaisdell Center

February 2015

Tuesday, February 24

Caldwell Vows Not to Run From Rail, Homeless Problems

Monday, February 2

Large Rail Contractors Dump $1.3 Million into Local Campaign Coffers

November 2014

Thursday, November 6

Potential Contamination at Proposed Homeless Camp to be Studied

September 2014

Thursday, September 11

The City Reaches Out to Locals About Sand Island Homeless Camp

Wednesday, September 10

Hawaii Candidates Need to Sign the ‘People’s Pledge’

August 2014

Monday, August 18

Cashing In: Caldwell Stocking Up For A Showdown

Wednesday, August 6

Stormy Weather: Hurricane Iselle Is About to Rock Hawaii

July 2014

Thursday, July 24

Honolulu Mayor’s ‘Compassionate Disruption’ Campaign Disrupted

March 2014

Wednesday, March 19

The Mayor’s Money: Caldwell Expands Office Budget in Tight Times

February 2014

Wednesday, February 19

Hele On: Courts Rule in Favor of Honolulu Rail

January 2014

Tuesday, January 7

Last-Ditch Effort: Honolulu Offers Cash to Save $142M Housing Deal

A New Era in Ethics in Honolulu? Time Will Tell

December 2013

Thursday, December 12

Did Honolulu’s $142M Housing Deal Collapse?

Tuesday, December 10

Caldwell Fears For Honolulu Homeless If City Housing Deal Collapses

Thursday, December 5

Will The Honolulu Ethics Commission Have To Subpoena The Mayor’s Cabinet?

Wednesday, December 4

Who Knows Better? Honolulu Ethics Commission Or Caldwell’s Attorneys?

October 2013

Saturday, October 19

Ethics Probe into Honolulu Mayor Sparks Talk of Reform

Thursday, October 10

Honolulu Charities Fight For Taxpayer Dollars in Heated Political Debate

Wednesday, October 9

Tunnel Vision? Not When It Comes to Honolulu’s High Stakes Rail Project

August 2013

Thursday, August 22

Who’s Really to Blame for Honolulu’s Budget Woes?

Tuesday, August 20

Who’s the New Guy Running Things at Honolulu Hale?

July 2013

Thursday, July 11

Honolulu Police Contract’s $200 Million Increase Could Spur Tax Hikes

June 2013

Friday, June 21

Caldwell: Brace for Cuts in Honolulu City Services

Friday, June 7

Kickback? Letter Shows ORI Head Sought $90k Donation From Contractor

Wednesday, June 5

ORI Mismanagement May Throw A Last-Minute Wrench In City Budget

Tuesday, June 4

HUD Nails City For $8 Million In ORI Mismanagement Fiasco

Saturday, June 1

Should The City Earmark Millions For Favored Nonprofit Groups?

May 2013

Thursday, May 30

Honolulu Mayor Blasts City Council For ‘Out Of Control’ Earmarks

Friday, May 24

Should Honolulu Council Restore TheBus Or Spend More Money On Charities?

Wednesday, May 22

Honolulu City Council Denies Mayor’s Repeated Requests To Raise Taxes

Tuesday, May 14

Honolulu’s Thomas Square Upgrade Steeped In Controversy

Saturday, May 11

Where’s The Pork? Honolulu City Council Dishes Out The Earmarks

Friday, May 10

A ‘Desperate’ Search For More Money Inside The Walls Of Honolulu Hale

Housing Honolulu’s Homeless Won’t Come Cheap Under New Plan

Wednesday, May 8

Change Of Heart: Mayor’s Office Releases Names Of Executive Staff

Honolulu City Council Pushes Back Against Mayor’s Proposed Budget

Wednesday, May 1

Abercrombie Teams With Caldwell To Tear Down Waikiki Natatorium

April 2013

Tuesday, April 30

Honolulu Mayor Kirk Caldwell’s Staff Comes With A High Price Tag

Thursday, April 4

Can Kirk Caldwell Succeed Where Others Have Failed With Honolulu Homeless?

February 2013

Tuesday, February 5

Can Caldwell’s Cabinet Catch Up in Time for Budget Deadline?

December 2012

Saturday, December 29

No Honeymoon for Mayor Caldwell: Critical Infrastructure Issues Ahead

October 2012

Monday, October 29

Civil Beat Poll – Cayetano Peaks, Caldwell Surges

Monday, October 1

Civil Beat Poll – Unwavering Rail Opposition Gives Cayetano Lead

September 2012

Friday, September 28

Cayetano’s Transit Plan: Back to the Future

Tuesday, September 25

Caldwell Against Gov’s Natatorium Plan, Cayetano Wants More Info

Saturday, September 8

Ben and Kirk Talk Journalism And, Of Course, Politics

July 2012

Wednesday, July 18

State Health Department Might Quash Honolulu’s Fire-EMS Merger

Tuesday, July 17

Attack Ads Push Campaign Cash Into Spotlight In Honolulu Mayor’s Race

Pro-Rail Money Follows Caldwell, Carlisle Lags

Thursday, July 12

Caldwell: Honolulu Has 43 Fire Stations, 25 EMS Stations

June 2012

Friday, June 29

Politics Puts Fire-EMS Merge On Front Burner

Tuesday, June 26

Kirk Caldwell Answers Honolulu Mayor Survey

Honolulu Mayor Hopefuls Differ on Big Issues

Monday, June 11

Civil Beat Poll – Cayetano’s Grip On Honolulu Mayor’s Race Is Slipping

Saturday, June 9

Caldwell: We Left Carlisle a ‘Huge’ Budget Surplus

May 2012

Thursday, May 24

Mayoral Hopefuls Sharpen Attacks in First TV Debate

Wednesday, May 23

Moderate Caldwell Says ‘Build Rail Better’

Thursday, May 3

Caldwell: Carlisle Raised Property Tax Rates

Playing To Type In First Honolulu Mayoral Debate

April 2012

Saturday, April 21

Caldwell: Growing Local Costs More

Thursday, April 12

Inouye: The Only Thing That Will Stop Rail is World War III

March 2012

Thursday, March 22

Kirk Caldwell, Friend of the Working Man

Thursday, March 1

Civil Beat Poll – Cayetano Tops 50% In Honolulu Mayor’s Race

February 2012

Friday, February 24

End Politics As Usual, Then Cross the Street

Thursday, February 16

Caldwell: With More Time, I’ll Win Mayor’s Race

January 2012

Tuesday, January 31

Modest Fundraising Opens Door In Mayor’s Race

Thursday, January 12

Caldwell’s First Promise: Soap In Bus Stop Bathroom

November 2011

Thursday, November 3

Caldwell Raising Money For Carlisle Rematch

August 2011

Tuesday, August 2

Carlisle Holds Huge Financial Edge Over Mayoral Opponents

April 2011

Tuesday, April 26

Inside Honolulu: April 26

September 2010

Monday, September 20

Analysis: Negative Hannemann Ads Hurt Caldwell’s Mayoral Bid

Sunday, September 19

Rejected: Honolulu Hale’s Leaders

Friday, September 17

Why I Would Make the Best Mayor – Panos Prevedouros

Honolulu Opts for Prosecutor to Run City

Thursday, September 16

Financial Momentum = Kirk Caldwell

Wednesday, September 15

Day and Night: 12 Hours, Two Very Different Debates

Why I Would Make the Best Mayor – Kirk Caldwell

Saturday, September 11

Civil Beat Poll: Carlisle Has Edge in Mayoral Race

Friday, September 10

2010 Mayoral Open Mic on News Radio 830 KHVH

Thursday, September 9

Caldwell Leads Pack in Fundraising, Spending

Wednesday, September 8

Caldwell: Carlisle’s Spending as Prosecutor “Out of Control”

Tuesday, September 7

Do You Want This Man to Be Mayor? Kirk Caldwell

Friday, September 3

Caldwell: Honolulu to Collect $300 Million on Interest for Rail

10 Questions for the Mayoral Candidates

August 2010

Thursday, August 26

Caldwell: I Jump-started The Rail Debate

Wednesday, August 25

Carlisle: Commute From Kapolei Takes Three Hours

Friday, August 20

Sunday in Moiliili With Dan

Thursday, August 19

Caldwell: Hawaii Constitution Bans Nuclear Power

Tuesday, August 17

Prevedouros: City Spending $3 Million to Demolish Zoo Kiosk

Monday, August 16

Native Hawaiian Issues Surface in Mayoral Race

Wednesday, August 11

Caldwell: Honolulu Will Spend $150 Million Paving Roads This Year

Caldwell: Property Taxes and Fees Are Tapped Out

July 2010

Friday, July 30

Djou and Caldwell Latest To Undergo Fact Checks

Caldwell: City Government Smaller Under His Leadership

Donovan Dela Cruz Drops Out of Mayoral Race

Tuesday, July 20

Date Could be a Factor in Mayoral Election Outcome

Saturday, July 10

Mayor’s Race: Five Men, One Job

Thursday, July 8

Rail Likely to Drive Another Mayoral Election

Discussion: Honolulu Mayoral Election 2010