Colleen Hanabusa is considering seeking the office of mayor of Honolulu in 2020.

The former U.S. congresswoman has filed an organizational report with the Hawaii Campaign Spending Commission.

It lists Honolulu City Councilwoman Ann Kobayashi as chair.

Inquiries to Hanabusa on Thursday were not immediately returned.

Update: A public relations firm Thursday afternoon issued a statement from Hanabusa: “As the next group of federal subpoenas go out to the employees of HART, I believe, like many of you, it’s very sad to see this type of mismanagement and corruption at the highest levels of government in Hawaii. The public has lost trust in the city.”

Hawaii Democratic Gubernatorial candidate Colleen Hanabusa is greeted by her supporters at her election night headquarters in the Japanese Cultural Center, Saturday, Aug. 11, 2018, in Honolulu.
U.S. Rep. Colleen Hanabusa ran for governor in 2018. Now, she’s filed organizational papers to run for Honolulu mayor. Eugene Tanner/Civil Beat/2018

The statement continued: “There are people in positions of power that don’t seem to care about the well being of our children’s future and the quality of life of the residents of Honolulu. The rail and homelessness are out of control and I cannot sit by and do nothing as I watch the Hawaii I love, and our people, lose all trust and hope. I know in my heart that we can turn this around with hard work and leadership. We can do this together, but it will require us to fight and make tough decisions.”

The press release also includes a link to, which says nothing but does ask for donations and volunteers.

If Hanabusa does enter the race to replace Mayor Kirk Caldwell, who will complete his second and final full term in early January 2021, she would likely be considered a frontrunner.

The unfinished rail project is sure to be front and center in the campaign, and Hanabusa brings her own perspective. Caldwell appointed Hanabusa to the Honolulu Authority for Rapid Transportation board, which also included Mike Formby as the mayor’s director of the Department of Transportation Services.

Both Hanabusa and Formby were sharply critical of Dan Grabauskas, the former HART executive director and CEO, leading up to Grabauskas stepping down in 2016.

Formby, Hanabusa’s former chief of staff in Congress, now leads Pacific Resource Partnership, a politically powerful organization affiliated with the Carpenters Union and more than 240 state contractors.

Who Else Will Jump In?

Hanabusa is a former state Senate president who ran unsuccessfully in the Democratic primaries for U.S. Senate in 2014 and Hawaii governor in 2018.

An attorney by trade, she also served as chairwoman of HART. The oft-delayed, over-budget rail line is expected to open for limited service late next year.

Other candidates who may enter the race include Councilwoman Kymberly Pine, who has also filed an organizational report and held a fundraiser for the office.

Councilman Ron Menor has also been mentioned as a possible mayoral candidate. Menor, who could not be reached for comment, and Pine are completing their final terms on the council.

Keith Amemiya, Island Holdings VP speaks and introduces Landed at Farrington High School library.
Keith Amemiya, an executive with Island Holdings, in May. He is expected to announce his campaign for mayor soon. Cory Lum/Civil Beat

Keith Amemiya, a senior vice president with Island Holdings and the former executive director of the Hawaii High School Athletic Association could be close to formally announcing his candidacy.

“Although I’ve never run for political office before, I’ve been approached and encouraged by various people, community and business leaders to run for mayor of the City and County of Honolulu,” he said in a statement. “I’m currently discussing my options with family and friends, and a decision about the race will be forthcoming shortly.”

Amemiya is the cousin of Roy Amemiya, Caldwell’s managing director.

Other names mentioned as possible mayoral candidates are former Mayor Mufi Hannemann and former U.S. Rep. Charles Djou. Hannemann and Djou were unavailable for comment Wednesday.

The mayor’s race is nonpartisan. Should several candidates compete in the Aug. 4, 2020 primary, it’s possible that no candidate would receive more than 50% of the vote to win the race outright.

That would trigger a runoff between the top two finishers in the Nov. 3 general election.

Five of Honolulu’s nine council seats will be up for election in 2020. So will the city prosecuting attorney’s seat, which has no term limits.

Council Chairman Ikaika Anderson, who leaves office in January 2021, has said he will not run for mayor next year.

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