Tuesday marks exactly one year to the day since Peter Carlisle was officially sworn in as the 13th mayor of Honolulu. It’s been an interesting year for the former prosecutor, not least because he’s spent a fair amount of time off-island promoting Honolulu issues.

In fact, Tuesday is also the day Carlisle departs on his 10th official out-of-state business trip since he took office. By Civil Beat‘s count, Carlisle’s nine previous out-of-state trips encompassed part or all of 64 days. (Our total doesn’t include personal travel, vacation time or official business on neighbor islands because those don’t require written notice to the Honolulu City Council.) That’s more than one-sixth of all the days since he became mayor.

The frequent travels have become a running joke among some members of the Council and some of their staffers around Honolulu Hale. When the Council last week approved a gift from the city of Incheon to cover Carlisle’s upcoming trip there, Romy Cachola gave Office of Economic Development Executive Director Ann Chung a tough time about it. She’ll be joining Carlisle in Korea.

But Carlisle says the travel has been worthwhile.

In his first year in office, Carlisle went to Washington D.C. four separate times. His first trip there, to reassure federal officials about his commitment to the Honolulu rail project, came the very next day after he was sworn in. On one of his Washington trips, Carlisle and city rail officials tried to go “deep undercover” about rail meetings.

“One of my first priorities when I took office a year ago was to travel to Washington D.C. and make sure I knew firsthand from the key administrators and decision-makers there that they were as sincere and focused about providing federal funds to support Honolulu’s rail project as we were towards building it,” Carlisle said in a written statement provided to Civil Beat when asked about his travels.

“Securing full funding from the Federal Transit Administration (FTA) during this economic crisis has been a key component towards completing the project on time and according to the financial plan. On each occasion, I have been pleased to see that the project is highly prioritized and well regarded by the FTA to this day.”

The mayor has also gone to Los Angeles twice, and once apiece to Japan, Korea, China and Santa Fe, N.M.

The trip this week for Incheon’s sister-city summit comes after Incheon and a dozen other municipalities participated in Honolulu’s own sister-city gathering a few weeks ago.

“Another priority for me involving travel has been to make the case for Honolulu as a world-class city to do business with and to visit. Particularly during this challenging economy, strong tourism means continued jobs for Oahu residents,” Carlisle said in the statement. “Honolulu needs strong and mutually beneficial relationships with other cities. If you want to promote Honolulu as an international destination where you can do business, be engaged in diplomacy, and continue to enhance Honolulu as a special destination, then it is beneficial for the mayor and others to travel and share our city’s unique experience of aloha.”

Of course, traveling abroad isn’t all Carlisle has done his first year on the job. The mayor came to Civil Beat headquarters last month to talk about a host of issues he confronted in the year since the special election to replace Mufi Hannemann. These are the stories we published based on that interview:

Carlisle’s international jet-setting contrasts with Hawaii Gov. Neil Abercrombie, literally head of a state. Abercrombie was scheduled to depart Sunday on his first official overseas trip since he took office two months after Carlisle did.

Asked after his trip to Japan about the need to travel, Carlisle explained the value of face-to-face meetings.

“It’s a closer personal relationship between somebody who is in exactly the same circumstances, and rather than government-to-government or state-to-state, this is mayor-to-mayor, which is closer, in my opinion, to people-to-people,” he said.

“The most important thing that I came back from this is that the Japanese have known that they want to be our friends, and I’ve let them know that we want to be their friends,” Carlisle said. “And we want to do this in terms of economics, in terms of government-to-government, and in terms of cultural things that be to our advantage … which, in a global economy and a global and international city like Honolulu, is part of my job, in my opinion.”

Carlisle’s Travel Timeline

Date Destination Length Purpose Source
Oct 11, 2010 Mayor Peter Carlisle Sworn Into Office Civil Beat
Oct 12, 2010 Washington, D.C. 4 Rail transit meetings with federal officials Mayor’s Message 10-128
Jan 10, 2011 Los Angeles and Washington, D.C. 10 Promote business development // US Conference of Mayors Mayor’s Message 11-7
Feb 4, 2011 Santa Fe, NM 5 National Session of the Mayors’ Institute on City Design Mayor’s Message 11-26
May 17, 2011 Korea 5 Strengthen sister city ties with Seoul and Incheon Mayor’s Message 11-75
Jun 2, 2011 China 17 Strengthen sister city ties with Kaohsiung, Zhongshan, Qinhuangdao and Chengdu Mayor’s Message 11-85
Jul 20, 2011 Los Angeles 3 United States Conference of Mayors Summer Leadership Meeting Mayor’s Message 11-113
Jul 29, 2011 Japan 7 Sister city relationships with Hiroshima, Uwajima, Nagaoka Mayor’s Message 11-116
Sep 2, 2011 Washington, D.C. 4 Meet with Federal Transit Administration and Congressional delegation re: rail Mayor’s Message 11-130
Sep 16, 2011 Washington, D.C. 9 Joint Civilian Orientation Conference Mayor’s Message 11-134
Oct 11, 2011 Korea 6 Attend Incheon’s sister-city gathering Resolution 11-268

Source: Civil Beat analysis of Honolulu City Council records

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