The coronavirus pandemic is having such a dramatic impact locally that a person with government experience and strong communication skills is the best person to lead the City and County of Honolulu.

Former U.S. Rep. Colleen Hanabusa made that argument shortly after filing campaign papers with the Honolulu City Clerk’s office Tuesday.

While lacking municipal experience — save for serving on the Honolulu Authority for Rapid Transit board — Hanabusa said her years in Washington and her time in the state Senate (including as that chamber’s president) will serve the public well in a time of crisis.

“I believe the City and County of Honolulu is where the recovery is going to start,” she said. “The population is here. The economic potential is here. We have everything on this island first. This island is what’s going to lead the state in recovery.”

Colleen Hanabusa spoke to the media on the lawn near Honolulu Hale after officially filing to run for mayor on Tuesday.

Chad Blair/Civil Beat

She continued: “That’s why I’m running for mayor. And that’s why we need a mayor that understands the relationship between all the levels of government, and who has the relationships.”

Hanabusa, a Democrat, unsuccessfully ran for governor in 2018 and for the U.S. Senate in 2014. The mayor’s race is nonpartisan.

Stressing that there is a difference between working in government and working in the business sector, Hanabusa seemed to be making a distinction between herself and two opponents: business executive Keith Amemiya and former television executive Rick Blangiardi.

Hanabusa said she was not singling them out, but she made clear she thinks she is the best qualified candidate in the race.

“This is not the time for training wheels,” she said. “You’ve got to be able to hit the ground running. You have to be able to know, and more important than that, you have to be able to make those tough decisions.”

Also in the race for Honolulu mayor are City Councilwoman Kym Pine and realtor Choon James. The deadline to file is June 2, and the primary is Aug. 8.

Mayor Kirk Caldwell is completing his second and final term in office.

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