Maui Election

Hannemann to Enter 2012 Congressional Race

August 30, 2011, 6:24 AM HST
* Updated August 30, 9:10 AM
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By Wendy Osher

Mufi Hannemann. Courtesy photo.

Former Honolulu Mayor Mufi Hannemann today announced his plans to seek the Democratic nomination for the 2nd Congressional District Seat in the US House of Representatives in 2012.

“Now, more than ever, our nation and state need to put people back to work and revitalize our economy,” said Hannemann this morning in a formal email announcement.

“Public officials at the federal, state, and local levels are beset by debt crises and partisan conflict over the direction of fiscal policy. We can agree that the best way to deal with our fiscal woes is economic growth, but there seems to be very little sustained effort directed at stimulating job growth,” he said.

The 2nd Congressional District includes representation of the island of Maui as well as the other neighbor islands, and rural O’ahu.

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“As an elected official at the county level, I always had a spirit of cooperation at reaching out to the neighbor islands,” said Hannemann in an exclusive phone interview this morning.   “I helped form the Hawai’i Council of Mayors with Mayor Arakawa initially, and then Mayor Tavares, where we made sure that everything was not about being Honolulu-centric, but making sure that the legislature didn’t take away our portion of the hotel room tax, for example, which was a big threat during my last year in office as Mayor,” he said.

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As the current president of the Hawaii Hotel Lodging Association, Hannemann said he is working not only with Mayor Arakawa, but the Council Members, like Gladys Baisa and Mike White, to ensure that the visitor industry remains strong.

“I know there’s a movement to try to get a film studio on Maui. I’m working with Senate President Shan Tsutsui to ensure that whatever the visitor industry can do to entice those type of industries to come to Hawaii, we want to be there,” said Hannemann.

Hannemann said the grassroots support has been strong on the Neighbor Islands, where he spent a portion of his business and government career.

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“As someone who’s traveled from Kau to Kapaa, from Kaunakakai to Kaneohe, from Laie to Lanai, and from Wailuku to Waianae, and listened to the counsel and concerns of friends and strangers alike, I’ve decided that I can best contribute to the future of our islands and make a difference in the lives of our people and nation, by seeking to serve in Congress,” he said.

Hannemann is seeking the post being vacated by Congresswoman Mazie Hirono, who plans to run for the US Senate seat being vacated by the retirement of US Senator Daniel Akaka.

The Honolulu Star-Advertiser reports that others who have announced campaigns for the Congressional seat include Honolulu City Councilwoman Tulsi Gabbard and state Office of Hawaiian Affairs chief advocate Esther Kiaaina.

Following his service as Mayor, Hannemann made an unsuccessful run for governor, with Neil Abercrombie securing the Democratic nomination in the 2010 Primary.

“This decision to reenter the public arena did not come quickly or easily. I enjoy my responsibilities as president and CEO of the Hawaii Hotel & Lodging Association as we work to strengthen our most important industry,” said Hannemann of his role at the state’s largest private trade organization of hotels and tourism-related businesses.

“At the same time, during my travels throughout the Hawaiian Islands, people have been urging me to ‘get back in the game’ and ‘return to public office,'” said Hannemann.

Hannemann’s service also includes six years on the Honolulu City Council.  His time on the council included a chairmanship role.  He also served as director of the Hawaii Department of Business, Economic Development & Tourism and Office of International Relations.

In the private sector, Hannemann served as an executive with C. Brewer and Company, at one time Hawaii’s largest agri-business company. In the community, he holds a number of leadership positions with non-profit boards and organizations.

“I stand ready to serve the people of Hawaii by devoting all my energy, experience, and resolve to the work before Congress and to ensure that our future is one filled with promise and opportunity,” said Hannemann.

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