The only woman to hold the office of mayor of the City and County of Honolulu has died.

Eileen Anderson died Nov. 3 at the age of 93. She defeated incumbent Mayor Frank Fasi in 1980 but lost to him in a rematch four years later.

Eileen Anderson
Eileen Anderson. Courtesy

Honolulu Mayor Rick Blangiardi said in a press release Tuesday, “She is a terrific role model for all young girls, and for all the scrappy underdogs who dream of great things. Her contributions to the city will live on in perpetuity.”

Anderson served as the state of Hawaii’s first director of the Department of Budget and Finance under Governor George Ariyoshi. In 1986, she lost to Ben Cayetano in the 1986 Democratic primary for Hawaii lieutenant governor.

She and her husband Clifford were active in community service including both Boy and Girl Scouts, Aloha United Way, Liliuokalani Trust, Calvary Episcopal Church and Kaneohe Little League.

Said Eileen Anderson’s daughter, Patricia Anderson, “With the job of leading the City and County of Honolulu, came the responsibility of making difficult decisions that wouldn’t please everyone. All decisions whether in transportation, tourism, land, or business and industry, would have long term fiscal impacts that ultimately filtered down to the ohana and aina of Oahu. Eileen Anderson took this responsibility very seriously. We are proud of her accomplishments and the legacy she leaves behind.”

In honor and memory of Mayor Anderson, Mayor Rick Blangiardi ordered flags be flown at half-staff at all city facilities on Wednesday.

Gov. David Ige also ordered flags of the United States and Hawaii be flown at half-staff at all state offices and agencies as well as the Hawaii National Guard for the same period.

“Former Mayor Anderson was a trailblazer who was an inspiration to girls and young women who aspire to enter the political arena or become leaders in their chosen fields. Dawn and I express our deepest condolences to her family and loved ones,” Ige said in a statement.

And former Honolulu Mayor Kirk Caldwell also called Anderson a trailblazer and noted her come-from-behind campaign to win the election for mayor “when no one initially thought she could win. She set a strong example for women in our state to dream the big dream, and the fortitude to go for it. Our deepest sympathy to her family and our gratitude for her service to the people of Oahu.”

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