For Oahu voters, the race for Honolulu mayor is perhaps the most hotly contested race on the ballot.
Both candidates are expecting a close race and they’re using every opportunity available to get their message out.
KHON2 spoke with incumbent Kirk Caldwell and challenger Charles Djou Monday. They say even with so many absentee ballots already turned in, there’s still plenty of work to be done.
Every wave to a driver, or handshake to a pedestrian is an opportunity to pitch their case to become Honolulu mayor.
Their main message to voters:
“(I’m) looking forward, talking about what we’re going to do to solve problems. You’ll never hear me talk about blaming anything on anybody else. Any problems that I inherited, they’re my problems and I’ve got to work on them,” Caldwell said.
“The people have a real choice. You have a real choice between the status quo and doing more of the same, or change and change for the better. We can actually elect a mayor who’s going to fix rail, reduce homelessness, and restore ethics,” Djou said.
With so many people opting to cast their votes well before election day, experts say the last-minute push is not as important, “but at the same time, you’re going to run to the finish line,” said political analyst and HPU professor John Hart. “There’s no reason for them to stop for the last couple of days. They’re out there. They’re campaigning. They’re doing things.”
Both candidates say they’re feeling good about their campaign, but are not taking anything for granted. They say the last couple of days of the campaign could make or break them.
“It’s still important, because in this particular race, I think you’re going to see a close, competitive election. It could be decided by just a handful of votes,” Djou said.
“I think it’s going to be a close election. Every vote is going to count, and that’s why I’m here today walking around, shaking hands with everyone,” Caldwell said.
There were negative ads thrown at the candidates by their supporters, and both of them said they wanted no part of it.
“For me, I don’t like it,” Caldwell said. “I grew up here, born and raised, and I think it’s hard. You start talking stink about people, it’s kind of hard to come together afterwards.”
“I don’t like it,” Djou said. “I condemn all of these third-party ads, whether they’re for me or against me, and the reason I do is they distract from the major issues of our community.”
On their itinerary for Tuesday, Djou plans to do more sign waving and working the phone banks while Caldwell will be on a trolley and making stops at major intersections to meet with voters.