KALIHI (KHNL) - Students at Honolulu Community College (HCC) in Kalihi got a chance to ask questions about issues that are important to them Wednesday.
Councilmember Ann Kobayashi and University of Hawaii civil engineering professor Panos Prevedouros attended a mayoral forum at the campus Wednesday afternoon. Mayor Mufi Hannemann was unable to be there, but sent four of his deputies to represent him.
The big issue this campaign season has been about the future of mass transit here on Oahu. The battle between the anti-rail and pro-rail people has been heated at times, but students at HCC were more concerned about jobs and the economy.
They treat it just like a class, paying attention and taking notes. Students at Honolulu Community College pack a campus auditorium to listen to mayoral candidates Panos Prevedouros and Ann Kobayashi. Those asking questions are most concerned about the economy and keeping jobs in Hawaii.
"We have to encourage these new industries to be able to start up here in Hawaii," said Kobayashi. "We have to look at our tax system. We have to look at how we can keep small businesses alive."
"A big problem is taxation," said Prevedouros. "Both property taxes are very high and general taxes are very high."
Students also want to know what the candidate plan to do about growth on the island.
"We have to protect our natural resources," said Kobayashi. "We're an island community. We have just so much water. We have just so much of our natural resources, and we keep importing more and more fuel."
"I believe our growth should be rationed and rational," said Prevedouros. "We have room to grow, but we have to grow more rationally. You have to first provide the infrastructure and then create the jobs and houses that go with it."
Mayor Hannemann was unable to attend, which gave his two opponents a chance to agree on many issues, including the need to devote more resources to help our children.
"There are so many run down baseball fields," said Prevedouros. "So many complaints have come to my campaign, I've seen them myself, from Niu valley to Kapolei, and a lot of playgrounds are missing. They're dilapidated; they're dangerous."
"After school sports, early education, parenting classes, these are really important to the well being of our community and it shows," said Kobayashi.
A forum designed to give students the tools they need to make an informed decision at the polls.