Rick Blangiardi is so far unopposed in his quest for a second term. Five City Council members up for reelection got over $219,000 as a group during the last half of 2023.

Mayor Rick Blangiardi received about $289,000 in campaign donations during the second half of last year, more than the combined total received by the five council members up for reelection in 2024.

Some of the mayor’s biggest donors were top officials in his administration, including Roger Babcock, who oversees waste management and donated $4,000, and Laura Thielen, who oversees parks and donated $3,000, according to a campaign finance report filed Wednesday.

Nola Miyasaki, who oversees human resources, donated $3,000; Roger Morton, who oversees transportation, donated $2,500; Denise Iseri-Matsubara, who oversees housing, donated $2,000 and Dominic “Haku” Milles, who oversees design and construction, donated $1,000.

In addition to Babcock, Blangiardi’s campaign received $4,000, the contribution limit per person per entire election cycle, from 31 other donors ranging from major developers, construction and real estate to individuals with no occupation listed or described as retired.

Honolulu Mayor Rick Blangiardi and the Council for Native Hawaiian Advancement announced plans for free hula shows at the Waikiki shell. (Denby Fawcett/Civil Beat/2024)
Honolulu Mayor Rick Blangiardi and the Council for Native Hawaiian Advancement announced plans for free hula shows at the Waikiki shell. (Denby Fawcett/Civil Beat/2024)

The maximum donors included Honomobo Corp., which advertises modular homes on its website starting at about $222,000 for a two-bedroom unit. He also received $4,000 from Hawaii Estate Development Inc., Ward Development Management Co., Eco Houseware, Olomana Golf Links, Evergreen Adult Day Care and KH Makaha LLC, which does business as Makaha Valley Country Club.

Six of his donors contributed over the $4,000 election-cycle limit, with amounts ranging from $4,500 to $8,000. The campaign has refunded all of the overages, as noted in the category of unpaid expenditures.

Blangiardi’s haul for the reporting period spanning from July 1 to Dec. 31 is comparable to what his predecessor Kirk Caldwell reported collecting during the period leading up to his official reelection campaign. During the second half of 2015, Caldwell reported collecting about $253,000 in donations.

In total, Blangiardi’s campaign, which has no opponent announced yet, has nearly $710,000 in cash on hand to spend.

Of the five council members up for reelection, Esther Kiaaina collected the most money at about $79,000, according to her campaign filing.

She received the upper limit of $4,000 from the Hawaii Regional Council of Carpenters, $4,000 from Nan Inc. owner Nan Shin, $1,000 from Nan Inc. executive Wyeth Matsubara, $2,000 from the Hawaii Operating Engineers Industry, $2,000 from the car-share company Turo and $1,000 from Andrew Yani, who is trying to develop a controversial permanent structure on food truck land across from Shark’s Cove

Kiaaina has about $102,000 on hand to spend.

Council member Radiant Cordero followed, with about $59,000 in donations.

She received $4,000 from members of the real estate firm Kobayashi Group, including $2,500 from Alana Pakkala and $1,000 from Bert Kobayashi Sr. She also received $1,000 each from Castle & Cooke and from Alexander & Baldwin, as well as $2,000 from developer Stanford Carr.

These brought Cordero’s cash on hand to about $70,000.

Five members of the Honolulu City Council are up for reelection this year. They include Calvin Say, far left, Andria Tupola, third from left, and Esther Kiaaina, fourth from left. Also included is Augie Tulba, far right, and Radiant Cordero, third from right. Say, who was in the Legislature for decades, has said that he is unsure if he will run for reelection. (David Croxford/Civil Beat/2023)

Council member Augie Tulba’s collections this period totaled about $53,000.

He received $4,000 from Mike Rompel, a pizza shop owner who during the 2022 primaries led the pack in individual donations. Tulba also received $2,000 from Park Hotels and Resorts, which owns Hilton Hawaiian Village Waikiki Beach Resort along with Hilton Waikoloa Resort on the Big Island. Former Gov. Linda Lingle, one of only two Republicans ever elected to Hawaii’s highest executive office, donated $1,000 to Tulba.

These brought Tulba’s spending money to about $43,000.

Council member Andria Tupola collected about $28,000 during this reporting period, raising her total cash on hand to about $40,000.

Her campaign got $2,900 from Stand Firm Developments LLC, $4,000 from the construction and maintenance company Koa Restoration & Maintenance and $4,000 from Nan Shin of Nan Inc. 

Calvin Say’s only donation listed was $500 from the timeshare owners advocacy group the American Resort Development Association-Resort Owners’ Coalition, which also donated $1,000 to Blangiardi. Say, who before joining the City Council was in the Legislature for decades, has said he is unsure if he’ll run for reelection this year. If he does decide to run, he will have about $95,000 on hand.

Prosecutor Steve Alm, HPD Chief Logan and Mayor Rick Blangiardi speak before the Safe and Sound Waikiki press conference.
Prosecutor Steve Alm, third from left, speaks with Honolulu Police Department Chief Joe Logan and Mayor Rick Blangiardi before a Safe and Sound Waikiki press conference in 2022. Public safety has become a salient issue in the City and County of Honolulu, especially in Waikiki, Chinatown and along the Waianae Coast. (Cory Lum/Civil Beat/2022)

Prosecuting Attorney Steve Alm collected about $169,000 during the reporting period, including $4,000 from the private security firm Phoenix Group LLC and $4,000 from the Hawaii Laborer Political Action Committee. Alm’s total spending cash on hand is about $144,000.

With about nine months until the Nov. 5 general election, spending was focused largely on fundraisers including over $10,000 each for catering expenses from Blangiardi and Alm’s campaigns, with Alm spending about $550 on Oreos alone.

As of Thursday, residents wanting to run for office in 2024 can start picking up papers from the Hawaii Office of Elections to officially file for candidacy. The deadline for returning these papers is June 4. 

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