Mass transit drives first mayoral forum - Hawaii News Now - KGMB and KHNL

Mass transit drives first mayoral forum

Honolulu Mayor Mufi Hannemann Honolulu Mayor Mufi Hannemann
Ann Kobayashi Ann Kobayashi
Panos Prevedouros Panos Prevedouros

By Leland Kim - bio | email

WAIPAHU (KHNL) - The three major candidates for Honolulu mayor, including the incumbent, participated in the first mayoral forum in Waipahu Thursday afternoon sponsored by the Kapolei Chamber of Comerce and the West Oahu Economic Development Association.  Not surprisingly, one topic took center stage.

The topic, of course, is mass transit, and it's the reason one of the candidates got into the race.  So this forum was designed to showcase where each candidate stands on issues, especially ones that matter to folks on the leeward side.

One of three candidates will decide the future of Oahu.  Honolulu Mayor Mufi Hannemann and two challengers: University of Hawaii engineering professor Panos Prevedouros and Councilmember Ann Kobayashi took the stage to answer questions from those who live in leeward Oahu, at the first mayoral forum at the Filipino Cultural Center in Waipahu.  The big issue this race is mass transit.

"Kapolei is a new place, but with all the big problems, traffic from and to Kapolei is terrible," said Prevedouros, who entered the race because he opposes Hannemann's rail plan. "In fact, if you're pro rail, your best day in traffic was yesterday."

"I could stay in my council race unopposed, but instead I gave that up to run for mayor because I'm worried about the direction the city is headed," said Kobayashi.

"You know it's all about having choices, because that's what we are lacking," said Hannemann. "And we don't have choices other than our vehicles and an excellent bus service, so the rail would be the centerpiece of an integrated multi system."

Prevedouros is a staunch opponent of rail, saying it's the wrong choice for Oahu.

"You have to take the future in your own hands," he said. "Not only rail is completely unaffordable at $6.4 billion and counting but it ain't going to do anything for your quality of life, or your congestion."

But the mayor disagrees, saying he has Washington's backing.

"This is one of the best transit projects in America, and it should receive up to $900 million in federal funding," said Hannemann. "You don't just say go away, that is an opportunity to bolster this economy. That is an opportunity to leverage monies for a technology that they endorse."

Kobayashi says she'll go with what the people decide.

"We need mass transit," she said. "As soon as that vote is taken, let's move forward and get, whether it's steel on steel, rubber on concrete, hot lanes, whatever is selected, we must move forward and get this done."

They also talked about other issues, such as development and infrastructure on the leeward coast, as well as landfills on that side of the island.

The candidates answered pre-selected questions, and they had a chance to summarize their qualifications.

While there are many issues voters are concerned about, the controversy over mass transit is driving this mayoral race.

The next stop for all three will be Tuesday evening 6:30 at the Hawaii Theatre, participating in their first debate.

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