Jeremy Harris

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For the British sailor, see Jeremy Harris (sailor). For the American football cornerback, see Jeremy Harris (American football).
Jeremy Harris
Mayor of Honolulu
In office
1994–2004
Preceded by Frank Fasi
Succeeded by Mufi Hannemann
Personal details
Born (1950-12-07) December 7, 1950 (age 63)
Wilmington, Delaware
Political party Democratic
Spouse(s) Ramona Sachiko Akui Harris
Residence Kalihi Valley, Hawaii

Jeremy Harris, born December 7, 1950 in Wilmington, Delaware, served as Mayor of Honolulu from 1994 to 2004.[1] A biologist by training, Harris started his political career as a delegate to the 1978 Hawai'i State Constitutional Convention. 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 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.

Early years[edit]

Born and raised in Wilmington, Delaware, Harris moved to Honolulu to study at the University of Hawai‘i at Manoa where he obtained dual undergraduate degrees in related biology fields. Upon graduation from the University of Hawai‘i, Harris went on to the University of California at Irvine where he obtained his master's degree in population and environmental biology, specializing in urban ecosystems. He returned to Hawai‘i and settled on the island of Kaua‘i. He was a professor at Kauai Community College and Marine Advisor with the University of Hawai‘i Sea Grant Program.

Political career[edit]

Harris was elected by his fellow Kaua‘i residents to serve as their delegate to the 1978 Hawaii State Constitutional Convention. The convention of 1978 came to be recognized as one of the most important events in Hawai'i history as from its body of delegates, many would become future "giants of Hawai'i politics" as the media would later recall. Harris debated alongside John D. Waihee III, future Governor of Hawaii, as well as future legislative leaders Carol Fukunaga, Helene Hale, Les Ihara, Jr., Barbara Marumoto and Joseph M. Souki.

In 1979, Harris was elected to the Kauai County Council where he served a single two-year term. In 1984, he joined the City & County of Honolulu as Executive Assistant to Mayor Frank F. Fasi. He was soon promoted to Deputy Managing Director and then Managing Director. In 1994, Fasi resigned as Mayor of Honolulu and in the line of succession, Harris assumed the office.

Mayor of Honolulu[edit]

Harris won a special election to become the outright Mayor of Honolulu in September 1994. He was consequently re-elected in 1996 and 2000, appealing mostly to Chinese American, Filipino American and Japanese American communities. During his tenure as Mayor of Honolulu, residents voted to limit the mayoral term to two four-year terms and thus made Harris ineligible for re-election in 2004. Former members of the Honolulu City Council Duke Bainum, Mufi Hannemann and former Mayor Frank F. Fasi ran to succeed Harris, with Hannemann ultimately the victor.

Harris is recognized as having executed the most complete government system overhaul in Honolulu history. He reorganized all municipal departments mostly by merges to streamline all services provided by the city and county. He also curtailed urban sprawl by reforming the system of land use planning to preserve open spaces and agricultural districts. Particularly during the first term, his management skills and those of his chief assistants were marginal and millions of dollars were embezzled or wasted as a result.[2]

Harris' most ambitious and controversial project was 21st Century Oahu: A Shared Vision for the Future. 21st Century Oahu is a community based visioning program where neighborhoods would be given some control and CIP funding priority over their own community development, urban planning and beautification projects. Hundreds of public safety, environment, transportation, cultural and recreation construction projects were initiated and many completed as an outgrowth of Harris' 21st Century Oahu project.

Gubernatorial Campaign of 2002[edit]

Harris was considered a favorite to win the 2002 race for governor of Hawai'i. However, high-level Democratic Party insiders who had backed fellow Democrats against Harris in 1994, 1996, and 2000, did not want to relinquish the Governorship and Party leadership to this independent Democrat, and thus fought against his candidacy, beginning with a public campaign demanding Harris resign from being Mayor if he intended to run for Governor. In the spring of 2002, local news media reported unfounded and unproven allegations, of campaign finance wrongdoing by some of Harris' staffers.[citation needed] Despite polling closely to presumptive Republican nominee Linda Lingle, Harris bowed out of the gubernatorial race. Hawai'i Democratic leaders then backed incumbent Lieutenant Governor Mazie Hirono, a favorite of Sen. Dan Inouye, for the nomination instead.

Legacy[edit]

Much like his predecessor Mayor Frank F. Fasi, Harris leaves the City & County of Honolulu with a long-lasting legacy of his own. He built the Marine Education Center at the Hanauma Bay Nature Preserve, continued the Waikiki Revitalization project started by Mayor Fasi that changed the look of Waikiki's main thoroughfares, Queen's Surf Beach, Kuhio Beach, Kapiolani Park Bandstand, established torchlighting ceremonies and hula performances every night at Waikiki and started Brunch on the Beach. However, critics of Harris, including his successor Mufi Hannemann, contend that these programs came at the expense of basic city services and infrastructure.

Harris has the distinction of being the only mayor to be elected more than once as United States Public Administrator of the Year by the American Society of Public Administration. Twice, Honolulu's The Bus was honored as America's Best Transportation System. Other foremost national societies named Honolulu first on the list of Kid Friendly Cities as well as the most digitally and technologically advanced city in the United States.

Harris made waves on the international stage as the founder of the Mayors' Asia-Pacific Environmental Summit. Delegates in 1999 that included over 400 leaders from the Asia-Pacific Rim nations voted to establish a permanent Secretariat in Honolulu in Harris' honor. Harris also established the Pacific Islands Environmental Symposium, China-U.S. Conference of Mayors and Business Leaders, Asia Pacific Urban Technology Institute and the Japan-American Conference of Mayors and Chamber of Commerce Presidents.

References[edit]

External links[edit]

Preceded by
Frank Fasi
Mayor of Honolulu
1994 - 2004
Succeeded by
Mufi Hannemann