Campaign 2016: 5 questions for mayoral candidate Peter Carlisle

Campaign 2016: 5 questions for mayoral candidate Peter Carlisle

HONOLULU (HawaiiNewsNow) - Back in May, Peter Carlisle announced he was running for Honolulu mayor to bring what he described as a more direct style of leadership back to Honolulu Hale.

"A leader doesn't put their finger in the wind and figure out which way the wind is blowing," he told reporters.

Carlisle is perhaps best known to many Oahu residents for his years as Honolulu's long-serving Honolulu prosecutor. (He was in the position from 1996 to 2010.)

Carlisle was mayor from 2010 to 2013, before being unseated by Mayor Kirk Caldwell, who is running for a second term.

Political onlookers say while Carlisle is certainly in contention going into the primary election on August 13, he faces a tough battle against opponents Caldwell and former Congressman Charles Djou.

"It's hard to make a comeback in politics," University of Hawaii political science Professor Colin Moore said simply.

Carlisle doesn't see it that way. At the news conference announcing his run, the 63-year-old said he was running on a change platform that voters would embrace.

In advance of the primaries, Hawaii News Now wanted to know how all three leading candidates stood on major issues facing Oahu, from rail to homelessness to the rising cost of living. To see how Djou responded to our five questions, click here. Read Caldwell's responses here.

Here's how Carlisle responded:

If elected, what are your three biggest priorities for your first term? 

Giving the federal government a recovery plan for Honolulu's rail project as soon as possible instead of the middle of 2017; developing a lean, fiscal budget; and transitioning the city's decaying affordable housing portfolio to the private sector.

The most recent homeless count found homelessness appears to be getting worse.
What new solutions or efforts are you proposing for this crisis?

It does not appear to be getting worse; it is worse. Kirk Caldwell has failed his promise to fix homelessness through "compassionate disruption" - this means he enforces in reaction to the loudest complaints. As the former city Prosecutor for 14 years, I know how to enforce our laws and regulations and will propose an Oahu-wide smart strategy that is proactive instead of reactive like Caldwell's approach.

The rising cost of housing is a related concern.
What would you do as mayor to address the lack of affordable housing on Oahu?

I am an independent candidate who will not cave in to private interests. Unlike Kirk Caldwell, I do not answer to developers and contractors who have paid me large contributions to build their highprofit luxury housing. As former mayor, I understand that the Oahu plan for success in future years is building substantial affordable housing development in the urban core while leaving the rest of the island green and open. I know that executing that plan more than anything takes political courage and will. My record shows that if elected, I will execute on that plan.

The rail project is on the minds many voters.
What assurances do you have for voters about rail’s escalating costs and changing route?

Since I left office, rail increased from $5 billion to $8 billion, the project won't be finished until 2024, and it's stopping at Middle Street. There is only 1 explanation and that is a complete failure of leadership at the very top. I have never wavered in my commitment to finishing the rail project unlike Kirk Caldwell and Charles Djou. I will have the political courage to examine every possible funding option, share it with the public transparently, and convince stakeholders that we can and will get this done. It's too important.

The cost of living on Oahu is driving many to get second or third jobs, or to leave the state altogether. What can the city do to ensure middle-class families can make ends meet in the islands?

For me, as the CEO of the city, helping Oahu's middle class starts with committing to a lean, fiscal budget. When I was mayor, the City's budget remained relatively flat compared to my predecessors and the current administration. That involved hard and unpopular choices, but it had to be done, and I got it done. I kept borrowing by the city down during the State's worst recession so that the city's debt would not be unduly increased. The other candidates cannot say the same thing.

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