HONOLULU (HawaiiNewsNow) - When we asked Governor David Ige if he could beat Colleen Hanabusa in a potential match-up in 2018, he didn't hesitate with this response.
"Certainly. I believe that I will be successful for any of those candidates that are considering it," he said.
While Ige says he's sure he could win reelection in 2018, he says he doesn't know why powerful democratic forces are looking to defeat him with a candidate like Hanabusa in the primary election next August.
"I don't know. I know we need to do a better job sharing our story," said Ige.
He believes he deserves reelection because of accomplishments like cooling hundreds of classrooms, leading a state that's a model for sustainability, reducing homelessness and creating affordable housing which has a goal of 1,000 housing units by 2020.
"I'm proud of the work we've done. We've made significant progress in many areas," said Ige.
The governor dismisses his critics who've said he lacks leadership ability and vision.
"We have had the governor's vision on our website for more than two years now that talks about changing the trajectory of Hawaii," he said.
As lawmakers near a possible special session on the 3 billion dollar shortfall for the rail project, Ige thinks an increase in the transit accommodation tax should be included to help pay for it.
"I do think having a balance of a modest increase in the TAT and maybe an extension to the GET. I think the most important consideration is we do have to provide sufficient funds," said Ige.
He calls rail a 'life-changer' that will immediately improve traffic and spur transit oriented development.
The Governor also says his administration is focused on traffic improvements now - including doubling capacity of the zipper lane, starting contraflow in Nanakuli and the upcoming Kahekili contraflow.
As for the controversy over the Thirty Meter Telescope, Ige says the threat of a lawsuit from OHA over management at Mauna Kea has not stopped efforts to discuss some sort of commission or shared management of the mountain between OHA, the state and the University of Hawaii.
When asked about potential protests over the project, he said, "We certainly are aware and respect individuals rights to protest and express their views on the project. We do believe that if the permit is approved that we have an obligation to provide safe access to the location."