Mayor of Honolulu

The Mayor of Honolulu is the chief executive officer of the City and County of Honolulu and considered the third most powerful official in the U.S. state of Hawaii, behind the Governor of Hawaii and the Lieutenant Governor of Hawaii. An office established in 1900 and modified in 1907, the mayor of Honolulu is elected by universal suffrage of residents of Honolulu to no more than two four-year terms. The mayor of Honolulu is one of only two officers elected countywide; the other is the prosecuting attorney. The Mayor of Honolulu is the successor of the Royal Governors of Oʻahu of the Kingdom of Hawaii.

The mayor of Honolulu holds strong power in terms of the limits of the official’s abilities, the size of the budget he or she controls and the unique relationship the officer has in association with the mayors of Asian and Pacific Rim nations. The mayor of Honolulu has full control over appointment and removal of administrators, is invested with absolute control over department heads, wields veto power over the Honolulu City Council and has substantial control over the budget, totaling in excess of US$1 billion.

Mayor of the City and County of Honolulu
Seal of Honolulu, Hawaii
Kirk Caldwell May 2012
Kirk Caldwell

since January 2, 2013
Term length4 years
Inaugural holderJoseph James Fern
WebsiteOffice of the Mayor

Honolulu Hale and other offices

The mayor of Honolulu conducts official business from Honolulu Hale, the historic city hall building of Honolulu constructed in 1928 in classical Spanish villa architectural styles. The building is located at the northeast corner of King and Punchbowl streets in the Hawaii Capital Historic District near downtown Honolulu. Other administrative officers under the mayor of Honolulu work from separate municipal buildings on the larger civic campus of which Honolulu Hale is a part.

Domestic policy

From the courtyard of Honolulu Hale, the mayor of Honolulu is mandated by the City and County charters to make an annual State of the City address. In this speech, the mayor of Honolulu outlines the administrative and legislative agenda for the year. It is also a summation of the budget to be implemented compared to the budget of the previous year.

The mayor of Honolulu also organizes the major public services managed by the mayor’s office. He or she oversees dozens of departments, including: Honolulu Board of Water Supply, Honolulu Fire Department, Honolulu Police Department and the Oʻahu Civil Defense Agency. Unlike most United States mayors, the mayor of Honolulu does not oversee any schools, a jurisdiction of the Hawaiʻi State Department of Education.

Managing director

Assisting the mayor of Honolulu in overseeing these departments and other domestic policy issues is the Managing Director of Honolulu. His or her most important role is to serve as acting mayor in absence or resignation. The current Managing Director is Roy K. Amemiya, Jr.

Foreign policy

Honolulu is often considered the "Geneva of the Pacific" due to its commercial and trade, political and military, as well as academic influences over Asia and the Pacific Rim. Honolulu is the site of several international governmental and non-governmental organizations and summits, as well as the site of high-profile multinational military exercises called RIMPAC. RIMPAC is conducted by the Commander-in-Chief of the United States Pacific Command whose headquarters is in Honolulu’s Salt Lake subdivision.

The uniqueness of Honolulu’s significance to the global community has forced the mayor of Honolulu to assume a constant diplomatic role that goes beyond the foreign policy roles of almost all other United States mayors. The mayor of Honolulu serves as concurrent chairman of several multinational mayoral bodies and convenes special sessions of international summits regularly.

First Lady of Honolulu

As a Hawaiian tradition, the wife of the mayor of Honolulu is honored with the ceremonial title of "First Lady of Honolulu." Honolulu is distinct in this tradition as most United States cities and towns reserve the title of "First Lady" to the wife of the state governor, the wife of the President of the United States or the wife of a visiting foreign head of government. Honolulu deemed it necessary to bestow the ceremonial title to reflect her role in relation to her husband’s extensive international responsibilities. The title is not codified in modern law but is an honorific.

List of mayors of Honolulu

Portrait Mayor Term Party Notes
Joseph J. Fern (vol. 1, 1917)
  Joseph James Fern 1909–1915 Democratic 1st tenure
John C. Lane (vol. 1, 1917)
  John Carey Lane 1915–1917 Republican
Joseph J. Fern (vol. 1, 1917)
  Joseph James Fern 1917–1920 Democratic 2nd tenure
John H. Wilson (vol. 2, 1921)
  John Henry Wilson 1920–1927 Democratic 1st tenure
Charles N. Arnold (PP-67-5-010)
  Charles Neil Arnold 1927–1929 Republican
John H. Wilson (vol. 2, 1921)
  John Henry Wilson 1929–1931 Democratic 2nd tenure
George F. Wright (vol. 2, 1921)
  George Fredrerick Wright 1931–1938 Republican
Charles S. Crane, 1905 (PCA)
  Charles Spencer Crane 1938–1941 Republican
Lester Petrie, HSB, 1914
  Lester Petrie 1941–1947 Democratic
John H. Wilson (vol. 2, 1921)
  John Henry Wilson 1947–1955 Democratic 3rd tenure
  Neal Shaw Blaisdell 1955–1969 Republican
  Frank Francis Fasi 1969–1981 Democratic 1st tenure
  Eileen Anderson 1981–1985 Democratic
  Frank Francis Fasi 1985–1994 Republican 2nd tenure
No image
  Jeremy Harris 1994–2004 Democratic
Mufi Hannemann (cropped)
  Mufi Francis Hannemann 2005–2010 Democratic
Honolulu Mayor Peter Carlisle at Rail Groundbreaking 2011-02-22 CROP
  Peter Carlisle 2010–2013 Independent
Kirk Caldwell May 2012
  Kirk Caldwell 2013–present Democratic

Notable candidates and acting mayors


See also

2010 Honolulu mayoral election

The 2010 Honolulu special mayoral election was held on September 18, 2010. The election coincided with Hawaii's primary election. The winner of the election, Peter Carlisle, filled the unexpired term of former Democratic Honolulu Mayor Mufi Hannemann, who resigned on July 20, 2010 to run in the 2010 election for Governor of Hawaii.Honolulu Managing Director Kirk Caldwell was acting Mayor of Honolulu on July 20, 2010, following Hannemann's resignation, until the special election was held.

2012 Honolulu mayoral election

The 2012 Honolulu mayoral election was held on Tuesday, November 6, 2012, to elect the Mayor of the City and County of Honolulu. Kirk Caldwell was elected mayor, beating opponent and former Hawaii governor Ben Cayetano.

The position of Mayor of Honolulu is non-partisan. A non-partisan blanket primary was held on 11 August 2012. Because no candidate received an outright majority of the vote in the primary, the top two finishers, Ben Cayetano and Kirk Caldwell, advanced to the November general election runoff. Incumbent Independent mayor Peter Carlisle was seeking a first full term in office but finished third in the primary and did not proceed to the runoff election.

2014 Hawaii gubernatorial election

The 2014 Hawaii gubernatorial election took place on November 4, 2014, to elect the Governor of Hawaii, concurrently with a special election to Hawaii's Class III Senate Seat, as well as other elections to the United States Senate in other states and elections to the United States House of Representatives and various state and local elections.

Primary elections were held on August 9, 2014. In Hawaii, candidates for governor and lieutenant governor run in separate primaries and are then elected on the same ticket. Incumbent Democratic governor Neil Abercrombie ran for re-election to a second term in office, but was defeated by State Senator David Ige in the Democratic primary, making Abercrombie the first incumbent governor to lose renomination in Hawaii history. Incumbent Democratic lieutenant governor Shan Tsutsui was renominated.

The Republicans nominated former lieutenant governor Duke Aiona and pastor and former circuit court judge Elwin Ahu. Also running as an independent was former mayor of Honolulu Mufi Hannemann and former Honolulu parks and recreation director Les Chang. Ige and Tsutsui won the election.

2020 Honolulu mayoral election

The 2020 Honolulu mayoral election will determine the Mayor of the City and County of Honolulu for the term commencing in January 2021. Incumbent Mayor Kirk Caldwell is ineligible to run for a third term due to term limits.

The position of Mayor of Honolulu is non-partisan. A non-partisan blanket primary will be held on Saturday, August 8, 2020. If no candidate receives an outright majority of the vote in the primary, the top two finishers will advance to a November general election runoff on Tuesday, November 3, 2020.

Ann Kobayashi

Ann Kobayashi (born April 10, 1937) is an American politician and businesswoman from Honolulu, Hawaii. She is a member of the Honolulu City Council, representing District 5 since 2009. She previously held the same City Council seat between 2002 and 2008, but resigned from the seat to unsuccessfully run for Mayor of Honolulu against incumbent Mufi Hannemann. She was also a member of the Hawaii Senate between 1981 and 1994.

Charles Djou

Charles Kong Djou (born August 9, 1970) is an American politician who served as the U.S. Representative for Hawaii's 1st congressional district in 2010–11. As a member of the Republican Party, Djou won his congressional seat in a May 2010 special election where the Democratic Party vote was split between several candidates, but was defeated in the general election in November after the Democratic primary provided a single opponent. Djou, who was previously in the Hawaii House of Representatives and the Honolulu City Council, was the first Thai American of any party and the first Chinese American Republican to serve in the U.S. House of Representatives. In June 2016, Djou entered the race for Mayor of Honolulu, which he lost 48% to 52% to Democratic Party incumbent Kirk Caldwell. Djou left the Republican Party in March 2018 in part due to dissatisfaction with the policies of Donald Trump.

Charles N. Arnold

Charles Neal Arnold (May 18, 1880 – October 28, 1929) was Mayor of Honolulu from January 2, 1927 to January 1, 1929. He was a Republican.

Eileen Anderson

Eileen Anderson (born October 18, 1928 in Bell, California) is an American politician who served as Mayor of Honolulu, Hawaii from 1981 to 1985. She was the first woman to hold the office. A Democrat, Anderson served in various positions in the city and county and the state. She was the first Hawaii State Director of Budget and Finance.

Frank Fasi

Frank Francis Fasi (August 27, 1920 – February 3, 2010) was an American politician who was the longest serving Mayor of Honolulu in Honolulu, Hawaiʻi, serving for 22 years. He also served as a territorial senator and member of the Honolulu City Council.

George F. Wright

George Frederick Wright (April 23, 1881 – July 2, 1938) was Mayor of Honolulu from 1931 to 1938. He was a Republican.Born in Honolulu, George Frederick Wright was the son of William Wilson Wright (1846–1921) and Annie Marshall Wright (1847–1916). Both his parents were English, his mother was born in Darlington while his father was originally from Langton; the couple had lived in Australia and New Zealand prior to settling down in Hawaii in 1880. He attended the Old Fort Street School and graduated from Honolulu High School in 1898. Wright worked as a governmental surveyor and engineer and with his brother Stanley Wright were members of the business firm of Wright, Harvey & Wright.Wright became Mayor of Honolulu in 1931. He died in office in 1938 while traveling aboard the SS Mariposa. Memorials to him were installed at a downtown housing project and at Washington Middle School in the Pawaa section of the city. He was buried at Oahu Cemetery.

Mayor Wright was married to May Martha Lycett Wright. Their son, Marshall Wright lived in Honolulu with his wife, Caroline Card Wright. They raised three children (Marsha, Byron, Fred).

Jeremy Harris (politician)

Jeremy Harris (born December 7, 1950) is an American politician who served as Mayor of Honolulu from 1994 to 2004. A biologist by training, Harris started his political career as a delegate to the 1978 Hawai'i State Constitutional Convention. While Harris served as chief executive of the City & County of Honolulu, the city was named "America's Greatest City" by the official American governance journal, Governing Magazine. Harris is the founder of the China-U.S. Conference of Mayors and Business Leaders and the Japan-American Conference of Mayors and Chamber of Commerce Presidents. He is married to Ramona Sachiko Akui Harris and lives in Kalihi Valley on the island of O'ahu.

John C. Lane

John Awena-ika-lani-keahi-o-ka-lua-o-Pele Carey Lane, (July 22, 1872 – February 8, 1958) was Mayor of Honolulu from 1915 to 1917.

John H. Wilson (Hawaii politician)

John Henry Wilson (December 15, 1871 – July 3, 1956), was a civil engineer, insurgent, co-founder of the Democratic Party of Hawaii, and Mayor of Honolulu, Hawaii three times: from 1920 to 1927, from 1929 to 1931, and from 1946 to 1954.

Joseph J. Fern

Joseph "Joe" James Fern (August 25, 1872 – February 20, 1920) was the first Mayor of Honolulu from 1909 to 1915 and again from 1917 to 1920. During and after his tenure, Fern became one of the most beloved political figures in the Territory of Hawaii. He was one of the first members of the Hawai'i Democratic Party.

Kirk Caldwell

Kirk William Caldwell (born September 4, 1952) is an American politician who is the 14th and current Mayor of Honolulu, Hawaii, since 2013. A member of the Democratic Party, Caldwell held the position of Acting Mayor of Honolulu in 2010 following the resignation of Mayor Mufi Hannemann.

List of Hawaii politicians

Below is a List of Hawaiʻi politicians from the monarchical, republican, territorial, and statehood eras of history who have articles devoted to them on Wikipedia. Also listed are politicians who were born and raised in Hawaiʻi but have assumed political roles in other states or countries.

Mufi Hannemann

Muliufi Francis Hannemann (born July 16, 1954) is an American politician, businessman, and non-profit executive. He was elected twice as Mayor of Honolulu in 2004 and 2008. Hannemann has served as a special assistant in Washington, D.C., with the Department of the Interior, where he was selected for a White House fellowship in the Reagan administration under Vice President George H. W. Bush. He also served as chairman of the Honolulu City Council. He is the first person of Samoan descent and the second member of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints to serve as Mayor of Honolulu (Neal S. Blaisdell was the first).

Neal Blaisdell

Neal Shaw Blaisdell (November 6, 1902 – November 5, 1975) served as Mayor of Honolulu from 1955 to 1969 as a member of the Hawaii Republican Party. As chief executive of City and County of Honolulu, Hawaii, Blaisdell oversaw one of the largest construction booms in city and county history, working closely with Governor John A. Burns.

Peter Carlisle

Peter Benson Carlisle (born October 12, 1952) is an American politician and attorney who served as the 13th Mayor of Honolulu, Hawaii from 2010 to 2013. Prior to serving as interim Mayor following the resignation of former Honolulu Mayor Mufi Hannemann (in Hannemann's unsuccessful bid to run for Hawaii State governor against former U.S. Representative Neil Abercrombie), Carlisle had served as the Prosecuting Attorney of Honolulu from 1996 to 2010.

Elected Officials
Government Departments


This page is based on a Wikipedia article written by authors (here).
Text is available under the CC BY-SA 3.0 license; additional terms may apply.
Images, videos and audio are available under their respective licenses.