Mayor of Honolulu

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

since January 2, 2013
Term length 4 years
Inaugural holder Joseph James Fern
Formation 1909
Website Office of the Mayor

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 only one of 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 officer’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.

Honolulu Hale and other offices[edit]

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[edit]

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[edit]

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[edit]

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 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[edit]

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, wife of the President of the United States or wife of visiting foreign heads 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 the honorific is derived from customs of the Hawaiian monarchy.

List of mayors of Honolulu[edit]

Portrait Mayor Term Party Notes
Joseph J. Fern (vol. 1, 1917).jpg
  Joseph James Fern 1909–1915 Democratic 1st term
John C. Lane (vol. 1, 1917).jpg
  John Carey Lane 1915–1917 Republican
Joseph J. Fern (vol. 1, 1917).jpg
  Joseph James Fern 1917–1920 Democratic 2nd term
John H. Wilson (vol. 2, 1921).jpg
  John Henry Wilson 1920–1927 Democratic 1st term
Charles N. Arnold (PP-67-5-010).jpg
  Charles Neil Arnold 1927–1929 Republican
John H. Wilson (vol. 2, 1921).jpg
  John Henry Wilson 1929–1931 Democratic 2nd term
George F. Wright (vol. 2, 1921).jpg
  George Fredrerick Wright 1931–1938 Republican
Charles S. Crane, 1905 (PCA).jpg
  Charles Spencer Crane 1938–1941 Republican
Lester Petrie, HSB, 1914.jpg
  Lester Petrie 1941–1947 Democratic
John H. Wilson (vol. 2, 1921).jpg
  John Henry Wilson 1947–1955 Democratic 3rd term
  Neal Shaw Blaisdell 1955–1969 Republican
  Frank Francis Fasi 1969–1981 Democratic 1st term
  Eileen Anderson 1981–1985 Democratic
  Frank Francis Fasi 1985–1994 Republican
  Jeremy Harris 1994–2004 Democratic
Mufi Hannemann.jpg
  Mufi Francis Hannemann 2005–2010 Democratic 2nd term
Honolulu Mayor Peter Carlisle at Rail Groundbreaking 2011-02-22 CROP.jpg
  Peter Carlisle 2010–2013 Independent
Kirk Caldwell May 2012.jpg
  Kirk Caldwell 2013–Present Democratic

Notable candidates and acting mayors[edit]


See also[edit]