After six months of house visits with residents from Makiki to ʻAiea, business owner and community organizer Ikaika Hussey formally announced his candidacy today for the sixth district of Honolulu’s City Council. He is running a uniquely grassroots campaign, dedicated to the stories of the people of this highly populous district.
“Over the last six months I have gone door-to-door everyday listening to the voices of our fellow islanders,” Hussey said in a press release. “What I’ve heard are stories of community, of family, of resilience—but also a deep concern about how difficult it is to make it here in this home that we love.”
He continued, “I’m running to carry the messages from our neighbors to Honolulu Hale: We need to focus on our people; on the basic needs of our fellow islanders.”
Hussey supports maintaining affordable rents for senior citizens in low-income housing, zoning changes to allow for denser affordable developments in urban Honolulu, limited budgetary authority for neighborhood boards and increased investment in infrastructure and public transit. He has assembled a diverse campaign team, bringing together environmentalists, organized labor, entrepreneurs, native Hawaiians and immigrants. The team is advised by veteran political leaders Marion Shim and retired federal appeals court judge Walter Heen.
With $30,165 cash on hand, Hussey faces incumbent Carol Fukunaga ($52,871 cash on hand) and construction industry lobbyist Tyler Dos Santos-Tam, Executive Director of the Hawaiʻi Construction Alliance, who has not yet filed a campaign finance report. In the 2014 primary election, Ms. Fukunaga received an average 46 percent across the 21 precincts of District VI.
Hussey informed Fukunaga of his candidacy with a letter sent to her at the end of November, 2017:
Aloha Councilmember Fukunaga: I hope this missive ﬁnds you well.
I am writing to inform you that I have decided to stand for election to the Honolulu City Council, District VI. I make this decision after much deliberation, and with no animus or ill-will towards you. Much to the contrary, I hold you and your four-decade career of public service in high esteem and appreciation. Mahalo nui loa.
I’m running for ofﬁce out of a profound desire to serve our city and island. Honolulu should aspire to become our name — ‘sheltered harbor’ — as we confront several gathering storms: inequality, global warming, a technological revolution and a rapidly shifting global economy. Our forebears left us an island paradise, but I have grave concerns about the state of the inheritance we are leaving for our children and grandchildren. We can and must do better.
I have been a passionate advocate for social justice for many years, stemming from my family’s Catholicism and simple deeds of goodness that I witnessed from my parents. I’ve lived those values as a student activist, volunteer on community boards, social entrepreneur and parent. I aim to bring that same passion, resoluteness and hunger for solutions to my tenure as councillor of this city which you and I both love.
Councilmember Fukunaga responded saying, “Mahalo for the heads-up on your candidacy. I welcome other perspectives on issues facing our constituents, and appreciate your contacting me in advance. Your participation gives voters a choice between candidates, which will clearly strengthen our democratic form of government.”
Hussey has been active in Hawaiʻi grassroots and electoral politics since the 1990s. He is a graduate of ‘Iolani School (1996) and the University of Hawaiʻi at Mānoa, from which he earned both a B.A. and Master’s Degree in Political Science. Four years ago he founded Summit, a nationally-distributed Hawaiʻi arts, literature and fashion magazine, which opened a retail storefront on King Street in 2017. He is an investor in social enterprises and local small businesses such as the Hau‘oli Lofts condominium in Mo‘ili‘ili. Hussey is active on the boards of several organizations including the Kalihi Valley Neighborhood Board, Kamehameha Federal Credit Union, Hanahauʻoli School, and the Domestic Violence Action Center. He lives with his spouse, Marti Townsend, the director of the Sierra Club of Hawai‘i, and their three young children in Kalihi.