Mayoral candidate interview: Honolulu Mayor Mufi Hannemann

HONOLULU (KHNL) - Rail, the economy and the future of Honolulu are just some of the questions current Honolulu Mayor Mufi Hannemann answered on Thursday, when he stopped by our studio to have a chat with Kristine Uyeno.

Kristine Uyeno: Welcome Mayor.

Mufi Hannemann: Good morning Kristine, it is nice to be here.

Kristine Uyeno: Nice for you to be here too. Now we have heard from Ann Kobayashi just a few minutes ago. She wants a transit system that is rubber on concrete. Panos Prevedouros is totally against it. You have always said steel on steel is the best way to go.

Mufi Hannemann:Well steel on steel has been the choice of the experts the council and I appointed. Four out of five of them said steel on steel. The lone descended voice of course was Panos. But most importantly Hot Lanes, if it was such a "hot" idea would have been funded by now. It's been around for a long long time.There is no federal funding base for it nor is there a local funding base for it. Secondly, with respect to rubber on concrete it hasn't been funded by the Federal government since 1988. Ninety percent of the projects that they have funded since 1982 have been steel on steel. It's dependable, it's reliable and the life cycle cost is much more cost efficient.

Kristine Uyeno: What about some of the proposed routes of the rail? Some people might be wondering, "Why not the airport? Why not here? Why not there?"

Mufi Hannemann: It's an excellent question. That's what I proposed to the City Council. Unfortunately, I could only find four people to go along. Ann Kobayashi could have voted for the airport, she chose not to. She wanted a route that went from Iwelei to the University of Hawaii at Manoa, excluding the airport.

Kristine Uyeno: Ok, what about the cost? It has been proposed, how many millions or billions to build this? And the federal government has said that it would help?

Mufi Hannemann: Panos keeps talking about six billion dollars. We are talking about twenty miles based on what we can afford to build. And that is why we are saying it is 3.7 billion dollars given today's dollars here. But most importantly we have a local funding base for fifteen years, with what we are collecting. And we have been promised up to nine hundred million dollars of federal funds. Congressman Jim Oberstar, the Public Transportation Chair has said this is one of the best transit systems of America and should receive up to nine hundred million dollars of federal funds, which our Congressional Delegation supports 100% percent.

Kristine Uyeno: Ok, now infrastructure is also a big topic. How will you continue to fix the aging sewer system here in Honolulu?

Mufi Hannemann: We are doing a great job. We came into office with lots of problems. We are fixing our force mains, look at Waikiki. Look at Hawaii Kai along Kalaneaneole Highway. Kalaheo Avenue had not been fixed when I came into office. We are going to spend 1.5 billion dollars over the next six years continuing  to fix our sewer system. We are in a lot better shape than when I came into office.

Kristine Uyeno: How about fixing the economy?

Mufi Hannemann: That's exactly why people shouldn't take a chance. This is no time for on-the job training. I have an economic development background. I helped save the Pro Bowl prior to being mayor. The Congressional Delegation asked me to come back to Washington D.C., to save those jobs at Pearl Harbor. I have talked to executives like Donald Trump, Jay Rasulo at Disney to locate here, Dustin Shindo to locate some operations out there at Kapolei.That's my background.  That's why with Mufi Hannemann as mayor, you're going to have someone who understands how to fix the economy. Given my private sector background and the emphasis I have been putting in my administration that the economy is very important, that is what I am going to focus on in my second term.

Kristine Uyeno: You are focusing on the economy in the second term?

Mufi Hannemann: Absolutely. All the signs were going south, which is why if we build rail as quickly as I would like to, 2009. We are talking about forty-seven hundred construction jobs. We are talking about eleven thousand jobs a year. We are going to avoid what happened between 1994 and 1999, when we didn't build rail when we should have, when we had 5% percent unemployment.

Kristine Uyeno: Ok, and for voters out there who are still undecided even though the primary is just two days away, what do you say to them? Why should they vote for you?

Mufi Hannemann: We have a proven track record, a record of accomplishments. I have been endorsed by the Honolulu Advertiser and the Honolulu Star Bulletin. But most importantly this is not the time for on-the job training. It is one thing to be teaching in the classroom. It's one thing to say you have legislative experience, but I have executive experience. I make decisions, I collaborate, we listen to people. We bring people together and that is why we are making great progress as a city.

Kristine Uyeno: Alright, thanks a lot for stopping by Mayor on this Thursday morning, and good luck.

Mufi Hannemann: Mahalo, thank you.