Mayoral candidates trade jabs in Hawaii News Now debate
KALIHI (HawaiiNewsNow) - Three candidates for Honolulu mayor traded jabs during Hawaii News Now's televised debate on Wednesday night.
Within the first few minutes, a topic from a previous debate resurfaced. Former governor Ben Cayetano was asked about a comment he had made regarding Senator Daniel Inouye, calling him "out of touch" during a discussion about rail support.
"I have a high respect for Senator Inouye. My comments about him were during the heat of a debate and I meant that he was misinformed about rail," said Cayetano.
"He was talking about him not being, not going to the same food joints that we went to, and things like that," said current mayor Peter Carlisle. "So this to me sounds like less of a retraction, more like a full on retreat which I appreciate and I think is the right thing to do, Ben."
Other rail questions touched on funding and transit-oriented development. Former acting mayor Kirk Caldwell and Carlisle both support the project, but they clashed when it came to taking credit.
"You had a fake groundbreaking over a year ago out in East Kapolei. We just started building now, so why a year before?" questioned Caldwell."
"Did you tell Senator Inouye that he was engaging in a fake groundbreaking?" Carlisle asked Caldwell. "Because he sure seemed to take it seriously when he was there," said Carlisle.
"It was your groundbreaking. I had nothing to do with it," responded Caldwell.
"No, you certainly didn't," replied Carlisle.
All the candidates avoided a specific answer when asked about a suggested site for Oahu's next landfill, instead pointing to alternatives like a third boiler at the H-Power facility.
"We're going to be putting all but 10% of our opala into the landfill, and I think if we work a little harder, and I was working on that when I was at the city, we could reduce the need for an everyday landfill," said Caldwell.
"I'm going to propose investing in what is called a material recycling facility. They have this in other places. It's expensive but we'll make the case to the people," Cayetano said.
The current mayor also found himself on the defensive about his job performance.
"I think we have a disengaged mayor. The city is on autopilot and I think we see the results of that," said Caldwell.
"You need to be engaged because, for example, when the $15 million change order was approved by (former HART interim executive director) Toru Hamayasu, he (Carlisle) didn't even know about that," Cayetano said.
"Two things you don't not want as a real manager is somebody who is a micromanager or somebody who is a power control person," responded Carlisle.
The candidates also tackled topics like the homeless, sewer systems and proposed developments.
The deadline to register to vote is July 12. The deadline for absentee applications is August 4. The primary election this year has moved to August 11.
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