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His election rivals Ige and Aiona have other views about the HCDA’s future
Former Honolulu Mayor Mufi Hannemann said Tuesday that the city, not the Hawaii Community Development Authority, should have planning oversight in Kakaako.
The HCDA could proceed with the infrastructure needed to support high-rise condominium projects in Kakaako, Hannemann said, but the city should handle zoning, affordable housing and other regulatory matters. He said the HCDA should still oversee redevelopment in Kalaeloa, where he suggested a new racetrack could be built.
“I believe it’s time to have a discussion with state officials to revert Kakaako back to the city for proper planning purposes,” Hannemann, the Hawaii Independent Party candidate for governor, said at a governor’s forum sponsored by the West Oahu Economic Development Association at the University of Hawaii-West Oahu.
Afterward, state Sen. David Ige, the Democratic candidate for governor, and former Lt. Gov. James “Duke” Aiona, the Republican candidate, did not embrace Hannemann’s idea. The HCDA was created in 1976 as a redevelopment agency, but it took more than three decades for market and regulatory forces to align and spur growth in Kakaako.
Ige said he would implement a state law passed this year that weakens the governor’s power over the HCDA board, essentially freezes building height limits, and expands public notice requirements for projects. “I am committed to — if elected governor — really implementing that, really providing more balance on the board there and (I) really hope that we can get back to the original vision of Kakaako, which really was about live, work, play,” he said.
Aiona said he would have to think more about Hannemann’s proposal, but cautioned, “I think we finally got some traction with HCDA, regardless of the issues that people have brought up.”
The 90-minute forum, moderated by KHON’s Gina Mangieri, was the first to include all of the candidates for governor on one stage. Like a forum on Friday sponsored by the Grassroot Institute of Hawaii, in which Ige did not appear, the candidates mostly stressed their leadership styles over new public policy agendas for the state.
The fact that so many voters cited their personal dislike for Gov. Neil Abercrombie in his historic primary loss to Ige may be influencing how the candidates are approaching the November general election.
Ige has offered a more collaborative approach. Aiona has promised to restore trust, respect and balance. Hannemann is taking a softer, less partisan tone, hoping to appeal to Democrats, Republicans and independents.
Jeff Davis, a solar contractor and radio show host who is the Libertarian Party candidate, has challenged voters to break from the major political parties if they want change.
Few distinct policy differences between the candidates were unearthed at the forum Tuesday.
Ige said he would respond to the rise in homelessness by first directing services to the homeless who have jobs and are likely the most motivated to seek and accept help.
Hannemann said his proposed Hawaii Council of Leaders — made up of the governor and the four county mayors — could help address issues such as homelessness statewide.
Aiona has called for a homeless court and an outreach program by the Hawaii Army National Guard to homeless veterans.
Aiona said he would order a comprehensive management and financial audit of the state Department of Education and annual reports on tax credits to determine which incentives are effective. He also said he would explore reducing the unemployment insurance tax rate, which is supposed to be set by an automatic formula to ensure a healthy unemployment insurance reserve but has often been adjusted by the state to provide tax breaks for businesses.
Aiona, a Catholic who opposes gay marriage, said there will likely not be finality to the issue until the U.S. Supreme Court rules on marriage equality nationwide. He said, however, that he would not seek to overturn the state’s marriage equality law if elected.
Hannemann, a Mormon who opposes gay marriage, said he, too, would uphold the state law. But he said he would have put the question to the people in a vote, as the city did with rail, instead of deciding marriage equality during a special session of the Legislature.
Ige, a Buddhist who voted for the marriage equality law but has questioned the special session, said the law struck an adequate balance between equal treatment for couples and religious protection for churches. He said there is “always a possibility” that residents may ask the Legislature to revisit the law.
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“Hannemann is the experienced executive, the man who ran Honolulu and has a track record to prove it.”
For the first time, Hannemann revealed a new idea. He proposed giving Kakaako back to the City. He expanded on the proposal after the forum, saying “I think with the concerns and perception and reality of luxurious high rises being built at the expense of affordable housing, give it back to the City for planning purposes because there’s a big puka now in all the planning decisions of the City and that’s Kakaako because they’re exempted from that.”
One of the City’s requirements is that 30 percent of developments be “affordable housing.’
Hawaii News Now
Hannemann went on to say that the redevelopment agency Hawaii Community Development Authority should put effort into building a racetrack in Kalaeloa since Oahu doesn’t have one.
Former Honolulu Mayor Mufi Hannemann pushed to get the divisive rail project off the ground, but says he took it to a vote like he would have done with same sex marriage.
The Independent Party candidate said, “I was okay when people said take it to ballot and it went and I said if it’s voted down, I will end the project and return every dollar back to the state and we will move on.”
Hawaii News Now
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The first in a series of debates between the candidates for governor of Hawaii took place today, hosted by the Grassroot Institute. See complete coverage:
WATCH THE FULL VIDEO OF THE CANDIDATE FORUM:
Mufi Hannemann is a politician who wears his passions on the outside for all to see.
He is the American success story that should inspire kids across the state to say, “Yes, you can, now get to work.”
With his drive to win, translating athletic talent and brains into scholarships to ‘Iolani, Harvard and even a White House fellowship, Hannemann went on to be the two-term Honolulu mayor that finally brought together the public support for both a tax increase and a multibillion-dollar rail system.
That forcefulness to win with such vehemence also showed Hannemann’s capability to deliver both the body checks and sharp elbows that made voters turn away.
After losing a race for governor four years ago and to Congress two years ago, Hannemann is back running for governor as an independent.
One of his first commercials, heard last week on the radio, is an apology of sorts for his past take-no-prisoners political style.
“I have also learned a lot while being out of office,” he says.
“Campaigns can be humbling experiences. After each one you ponder and reflect on the lessons learned. I realize I must be more sensitive to others as we work through complex challenges …
“Given another chance to serve, I promise compassionate and collaborative leadership that is respectful and responsive to the wishes of the people,” Hannemann says.
In an interview, Hannemann explained that he felt he needed to square up with the voters early on.
“I think nobody can say that I am not qualified or lack experience,” Hannemann said.
“So I have to address the issue of style of leadership … If you have had a problem with me in the past, I hear you,” Hannemann said.
This reflection is a step up from Hannemann’s comments during a debate in 2010 when he was asked about a controversial brochure that highlighted the differences between him and fellow gubernatorial candidate Neil Abercrombie.
“If we caused that kind of uneasiness and suffering from some people who saw it that way, certainly, it’s regrettable, and I’m sorry if it caused you that kind of feeling,” Hannemann said.
Even earlier in Hannemann’s career, former Honolulu Star-Bulletin reporter Tim Ryan wrote about the Hannemann style in a 2000 profile.
“Along the way, he has made passionate enemies — not simple adversaries — as well as friends. Political opponents and some who have worked under him at state and city levels say Hannemann can be intimidating, demeaning, demoralizing, an emotional bully who doesn’t appreciate being disagreed with,” Ryan wrote.
Hannemann today says he has been responsive to criticism in the past but also loses public sympathy because at 6 feet, 7 inches, he is a really big target.
“Because I am big and tall when I am passionate it can come across as intimidating, so I have to factor that in now,” Hannemann said.
“Maybe I need to sit instead of stand,” he speculated.
A political apology or mea culpa commercial usually comes at the end of a campaign, not the beginning, but Hannemann sees the value in getting the issue of style out of the way early.
In politics, style can translate into substance — and Hannemann will have to master both to come out ahead in the November race for governor.
As we predicted, the early pre-primary polls were very misleading. Political experts are now predicting that the three candidates will evenly divide the voters, and force a close examination of the candidate’s qualifications, track record and positions on key issues.
With primary over, attention focused on three-way governor’s race
Excerpts from HawaiiNewsNow – Rick Daysog
• With the primary election over, it’s now a three-way race for governor. And some experts believe the race is closer than recent polls suggest.
• According to political analyst Dan Boylan, “I could see all three candidates pulling a reasonable vote, a 30 percent vote.”
• Hannemann — who was last in and did little advertising before the primary — said his campaign is out to win the race, not play the role of spoiler.
• The election is still two-and-a half months away — plenty of time for the candidates to get the word out.
We now have a direct connect button on the Star Advertiser’s main menu. Now, you can stay in touch with the Hannemann campaign with one click every time you’re enjoying the online version of the Star Advertiser. Just press the Mufi Can Do button and see what’s new as Mufi rolls out his positions on the important issues, answers questions and brings you into his 2014 campaign for governor. Check out Mufi’s fresh perspective and creative ideas based on his solid track record of executive experience with his running mate Les Chang and see why he is the best choice to be our next governor.