Leeward students have traffic on their minds at mayoral forum - Hawaii News Now - KGMB and KHNL

Leeward students have traffic on their minds at mayoral forum

Ann Kobayashi Ann Kobayashi
Amanda Simpson Amanda Simpson

By Leland Kim - bio | email

PEARL CITY (KHNL) -  Leeward Community College students get a real life lesson in politics Tuesday.  Honolulu Mayor Mufi Hannemann and his challenger, City Councilmember Ann Kobayashi, sat down to answer questions posed by students.  Not surprisingly, the big topic was the future of Honolulu mass transit.

Many of the students live on the leeward coast: Kapolei, Makakilo, and Waianae.  They deal with traffic to and from town on a regular basis, and Tuesday, that's mostly what was on their minds.

Students pack this room at Leeward Community College for a chance to hear candidates Hannemann and Kobayashi.

Traffic has plagued the leeward coast for years.  Naturally, students want to hear who has the best plan to fix this growing problem.

"It's not for more buses, it's not for fixed guide way system that will facilitate buses on a fixed guide way or go on the road," said Hannemann. "It's for a modern rail, steel on steel system."

"With track, you're stuck with it forever," said Kobayashi.  "And you'll be paying for it forever.  The maintenance has to come out of property tax."

Amanda Simpson says the forum helped make up her mind.

"At first I wasn't going to vote but listening to both of them, I'm going to go for Mufi," said the 21-year-old sophomore who lives in Kapolei.  "Just the way he goes about doing things and he's already in the system and he's already there."

Simpson comes from a place that has a light rail system.

"I think the rail issue is a good thing to do because living in Washington state and Seattle, riding on it, it did good for college students and for those people that didn't have a car," she said.

Some minds were already made up before the candidates even took the stage.

"I went into this forum pretty much ready to vote for Hannemann and vote in favor of transit," said Trevor Nagamine, a 19-year-old college student from Mililani.  "And there really wasn't anything Kobayashi said to change my mind on either of those things."

Between now and the year 2030, population in the Ewa area alone is projected to more than double, from 84,000 to 186,000, according to the Oahu Metropolitan Planning Organization.  That's why these students are concerned about traffic as they get older and start having families.

Both Hannemann and Kobayashi say they are committed to fixing Oahu's traffic problems.  They just differ in their approach and the type of system to use.

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