Gubernatorial candidates Green, Cayetano pitch platforms at Democratic party convention

They addressed topics ranging from abortion rights to the economy to affordable housing.
Published: May. 27, 2022 at 6:11 PM HST|Updated: May. 28, 2022 at 9:56 AM HST
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HONOLULU (HawaiiNewsNow) - The Hawaii Democratic Party kicked off its state convention Friday with a forum featuring gubernatorial candidates Lt. Gov. Josh Green and former First Lady Vicky Cayetano.

Each candidate answered the same set of prepared questions from a moderator so there were no debate, no confrontation, and no big surprises.

The biggest surprise was the absence of one high-profile candidate: Congressman Kai Kahele.

Green and Cayetano took part in moderated sessions separately and did not share the stage.

About 100 party delegates listened as they made their case for the state’s top office.

They addressed topics ranging from abortion rights to the economy and affordable housing.

When asked how they would use $600 million appropriated to help clear the backlog of applications for Hawaiian Home Lands, both spoke about restoring trust in the Native Hawaiian community.

“My wife is Hawaiian, my children are Hawaiian and I’m a doctor from Big Island. So I really believe I’m the person to bring people together and to heal some of the rifts.” Green said.

“There are 203,000 acres that should be dispositioned, 80,000 of those acres are also around Mauna Kea, which is more than just the telescopes, it’s the symbolic discrimination that has gone on.”

Cayetano said, “The state of Hawaii still operates on an IT accounting system that is over 40 years old, that is so segmented that departments don’t communicate to each other.

“So with each other so we can talk about resolving this with determination. But at the end of the day, if we don’t fix the infrastructure of the government, there is no way we can execute on all these promises.”

She highlighted her experience as a businesswoman to address bureaucracy and red tape in government.

“We really must have a government that’s not only transparent, but holds people accountable. There have to be timelines to everything that is done,” Cayetano said.

“There is this discussion part and there’s a lot of brouhaha. But then at the end of the day, we’re not holding people’s feet to the fire. And that’s one of the biggest problems and that is something I’ve done for 34 years is lead with transparency, accountability and urgency so that we can get things done.”

When asked about overtourism, Green had this to say:

“I’m going to really come down hard on Airbnbs, especially the illegal ones — the ones owned by mainland people — and we make it impossible for them to function. So by doing that, you can actually have more revenue but fewer bodies, but it’s going to be a challenge because we’ve looked at tourism like a cash machine for too long.”

Meanwhile, a campaign representative said Kahele had a meeting with kalo farmers on Maui and could not attend. He is scheduled to be a keynote speaker Saturday morning.

Gov. David Ige will also address delegates during a breakfast meeting.

The convention runs through Sunday.

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