Working For You Headline
Mayor Rick Blangiardi

In what he describes as the challenge and honor of his life, Rick Blangiardi has served as Mayor of the City and County of Honolulu since January of 2021. Since being elected, Rick has worked tirelessly to address many long-standing issues of deep public concern to Oʻahu residents, as well as bringing vital improvements to the communities that they have the privilege of serving.

Through collaboration and partnership across all levels of government and the private sector, Rick and his leadership team have found new pathways to increasing the supply of affordable housing; created a holistic and compassionate approach to caring for our houseless population; introduced new systems and technology to streamline the permitting process; eliminated roadblocks in the city’s hiring practices to fill gaps in vital city services; improved the condition of our streets, parks and centers of recreation; and reduced crime while enhancing safety in our neighborhoods.

And while so much has already been done, Rick is passionately committed to continuously improving the quality of life for all of us. Through ongoing input and conversations with residents across Oʻahu, he and his team strive to understand and be responsive to the issues that matter most.

Rick’s aloha for the islands and the people of Oʻahu is matched only by his love for and devotion to his family. A former University of Hawaiʻi football coach and longtime media executive, he lives in the heart of Honolulu with his wife Karen Chang, and has three children, Matt, Ryan and Laura, and five grandchildren.



How do you approach your job as Mayor of of the City and County of Honolulu?

I like to think of everything that our administration is doing in two ways. The first thing I want to stress is that we’ve been elected to serve the people of Oʻahu — with an emphasis on the word serve. That means reorganizing how our government operates in order to better reflect the peoples’ priorities, not the other way around. Second, being in office is like running a large and complex business on an extremely tight margin. It’s my mission as CEO of the city, together with the members of our senior leadership team, to keep the City and County of Honolulu running smoothly and continually improving, all while staying within a budget that’s supported by revenues that are sufficient to fund enhancements to our programs, services and improvement projects. Thinking about the job that we are entrusted to do in this way keeps me focused on our highest priority, which is you, and it helps to ensure that we’re doing it in a fiscally responsible way.

How does your coaching experience influence your leadership style?

I’m a huge fan of sports, for a number of reasons, but most importantly because of the character, discipline and values you tend to develop as an athlete or a coach. I’ve been blessed to be both, having competed as a football player, and then being fortunate enough to have had a great coaching career where I had the privilege of helping young men develop into outstanding adults. Being a coach and leader are one and the same, and I try to use what I’ve learned from coaching over the years, both on and off the field, to inspire my staff and unify the community — just as I would motivate my players to work together, never give up, and give their very best effort.

What lessons did you learn running large media organizations?

Being in the media business allows you to see local and world events from different angles, and that perspective makes you acutely aware of the sweeping impacts that the decisions government officials make can have on its citizens and communities. For over 40 years working with news organizations across the country and here in Hawaiʻi, I have had a front row seat to some of the major decisions and changes that have impacted peoples’ lives, both good and bad. This unique perspective has broadened the way I look at the world, and helps inform how I approach my job as mayor. It’s taught me that, above all else, people are my greatest priority, and the decisions that we make in government must benefit the largest majority of residents who live, work and play on Oʻahu.


What do you gain from giving back to the community and why is that important?

From a very early age, I was taught the importance of family and community, and that as citizens we all need to step up to do what’s right to help those in need. It’s been said that you can judge a nation by the way it cares for its most at-risk populations, and that is no doubt truer today than ever before in our history. I think it’s vitally important that we all think and act with kindness and compassion at our heart, serving as we can with the skills and resources we’ve been blessed with. Thriving together as one people ensures we’re all living up to being a state and nation that never lets our most vulnerable individuals slip through the cracks.

What do you love most about Hawaiʻi?

This place that we get to call home is very special, unique in all the world for many things. But one thing stands out in particular, which is the congeniality and hospitality of our people. While we may come from different backgrounds and cultures, collectively the people of Hawaiʻi are among the most welcoming in the world, rooted in the aloha spirit that is pervasive throughout our paeʻāina. That is what I fell in love with many years ago, and it is why this job that allows me to help improve our way of life here on Oʻahu means so much to me in this moment.

Why do you want this job again?

We say all the time in my administration that we’re thrilled and honored to have made so much progress — but the job we started isn’t finished. We took office in the middle of a global pandemic that had shut society down and changed the way we all lived our lives. So while I’m not making any excuses, we had to get through urgent matters associated with COVID-19 before we could even begin to get down to creating the kind of procedural, structural and systems changes that we promised to address. At Honolulu Hale, the days are long but the years are short — my team and I feel like we’ve begun to substantively deliver on many of our promises, and while the progress has been energizing and satisfying, I firmly believe our best work is ahead of us.


What makes you so passionate about your work?

I come to work each day knowing that we’re doing our very best to make a difference in peoples’ lives. That’s why it’s been a priority for me and my administration to make ourselves available to the communities that we serve, whether it’s through our town halls, or attending neighborhood board meetings, briefings, and celebrations. I like to hear from you what’s been working so far, and what we should be focusing on in the future. We’ve heard so many success stories like improvements to our parks, expanded transportation options, and expedited permitting processes. The wins are fantastic, but is everything perfect? No. That’s why your feedback helps us get better and do better every single day. Despite the long hours and tough issues that we face, this job has truly been the honor of my life, and it’s why I fight so passionately for you.

Has being mayor changed your perspective on life?

Yes, it certainly has. I have gotten to see and better understand certain aspects of this city that I never would have gotten otherwise. I have gained a genuine appreciation for how things work in city government, and at other times have pushed hard to change things in the interest of making things easier and more efficient for us all. And while I’ve always considered myself open-minded, this job has greatly enhanced my appreciation for diplomacy, negotiation, and partnership within the business sector, the community and at all levels of government. I feel like we’re coming together on issues like never before and we need to ride the spirit of collaboration to effect the big systems changes that we all want and need.

Did you ever think you’d be running the eighth-largest municipality in the country?

I never dreamed I would be leading a “company” with over 8,500 employees across 26 departments, spanning nine districts and serving nearly a million residents. It’s the challenge and honor of my life and I have been blessed with this opportunity. As I’ve said, I have no motivation — political or otherwise — to seek any higher office than being your mayor. I therefore take this kuleana very seriously, and am fully committed to serving the people of Honolulu in my second full term as mayor and seeing this job through.