An influential organization representing a major stakeholder in the Honolulu rail project has named a former rail executive its new leader.

Mike Formby, who in his capacity as the Honolulu Department of Transportation Services under Honolulu Mayor Kirk Caldwell also served as a member of the board of the Honolulu Authority for Rapid Transportation, is the new executive director of Pacific Resource Partnership.

“PRP is a natural fit for me,” Formby said in a press release Wednesday. “In my new role, I’ll be able to focus on the two things most important to me: advocating for sound public policies and implementing those policies in a way that positively impacts the state of Hawaii and its residents.”

Transportation Director Michael Hornsby gesture2. 21 april 2016.

Mike Formby in April 2016.

Cory Lum/Civil Beat

Formby, who starts on June 25, added, “My work experience aligns perfectly with PRP’s mission to strengthen the economic health of the state and to be a champion for working families.”

Dale Sakamoto-Yoneda, president of S & M Sakamoto, Inc. and a member of the committee formed to select PRP’s executive director, said, “Mike steps into his role at PRP at a critical time. The state is facing a number of challenges and it’ll be up to organizations like PRP to help lead discussions around issues such as affordable housing, the cost of living, homelessness, and education.”

Formby briefly served this year as an interim Honolulu City Councilman representing District IV. He previously worked as chief of staff for former U.S. Rep. Colleen Hanabusa.

The nonprofit PRP represents the carpenters and more than 240 of the state’s leading contractors, according to a press release from MVNP.

PRP played a major role in defeating former Gov. Ben Cayetano’s campaign for Honolulu mayor in 2012. Cayetano ran on an anti-rail platform but lost to Caldwell, who is pro-rail.

As Civil Beat reported in 2014, PRP “spent more than $3 million through its political action committee in 2012 to methodically dismantle Cayetano’s campaign and keep Honolulu’s $5.26 billion rail project on track.”

Rail construction and financing costs are now pegged at $9.2 billion.

Cayetano sued but later settled with PRP in exchange for a public apology and two charitable donations.

Be Change Now, a super PAC also tied to the carpenters, spent generously in support for Josh Green’s successful campaign for lieutenant governor in 2018 and Hanabusa’s unsuccessful campaign for governor.

Formby, an attorney, was an acting director of the state Department of Transportation and deputy director of the Harbors Division during the Lingle administration.

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