By Keahi Tucker - bio | email
HONOLULU (HawaiiNewsNow) - In case you haven't heard, Mufi Hannemann wants your vote. The gubernatorial candidate is spending millions on the governor's race, trying to convince critics his leadership style is just what Hawaii needs to grow the economy, transform our schools and bring collaboration back to the capitol.
On a warm summer night at the Pearl City Bon Dance, Mufi Hannemann is easy to spot. He's the tall Samoan guy surrounded by tiny Japanese ladies. A Harvard grad who still speaks pidgin and Japanese, he's a veteran campaigner at the top of his game.
Hannemann's headquarters on Beretania Street is lined with his endorsements, his ten point action plan and new fliers destined for doorknobs. But this week it's his style making headlines, not his substance.
His new ad attacks Neil Abercrombie's record without context, listing his Caucasian wife and New York birthplace, a not-so-subtle attempt to show who's more local.
"They automatically say negative campaigning. No its not. Its putting the record on the table and let the people decide" said Hannemann.
The bully label has stuck to him for years. Whatever you call it, Hannemann's drive has served him well..
"If I had been weak on rail we would have died a thousand deaths, every step along the way."
He hopes to break ground on the rail project this year. And if Governor Lingle doesn't give the state's approval, Hannemann says he will, once he's governor.
His plan to run the state includes plenty of substance. He'll start with an audit, to find ways to streamline operations. One example is putting the state's 200 phone systems under one.
He promises to put public works projects on the fast track to generate jobs. He'll try to sign a long term Pro Bowl contract, and he's determined to bring back the Superferry, after a proper environmental study.
"The way that we pursued rail is the way we should pursue the Superferry. You need a champion someone who will stand tall, get out there take the persecution if you will."
On education, he'll push for more arts classes, physical education and job training. Hannemann wants schools to teach specific skills for Hawaii's industries, training future rail conductors, engineers, architects for developing communities and astronomers for the thirty-meter telescope.
He'll push companies to hire more interns, grooming future leaders like he did with the city's Pookela intern program. All that would start with a shift at the Capitol.
"I will make the superintendent of ed and president of UH full-fledged members of my cabinet."
Hannemann says his cabinet will be the heart of his operation.
"What I want people to know is that I'm just one person, you know I have a team of people who work with me every day… and it's the same kind of philosophy that I'm gonna take to the state level. I can't do it alone."
Despite his dominant style and his larger than life persona, Hannemann says his goal is not self-promotion. Motivated by his faith and family, he wants to lead Hawaii to a better place.
"I don't care if you get the credit, we get the credit, doesn't matter. People want us to get it done and its incumbent upon us to do it from day one."