Governor

Governor

1) AS GOVERNOR, WHAT WILL BE YOUR TOP FIVE PRIORITIES UPON TAKING OFFICE?

JAMES “DUKE” AIONA (Republican)
Hawai‘i will be facing some significant challenges in the next four years and, as such, the governor of this state will need to be an innovative and strong leader who is prepared to represent the people of Hawai‘i, not just the special interests.
As governor, my first goal will be to lower the cost of living and strengthen the economy. By focusing on these two issues, we can take steps towards solving many of the other problems the people of Hawai‘i face. For example, if we attract better and higher wage jobs to Hawai‘i and make starting and keeping a business in Hawai‘i easier, then our other efforts to lower the cost of living are felt two-fold.
Hawai‘i individuals and businesses are the most heavily taxed in the country. Increased taxes make it harder for people to earn a fair wage, since more goes to the government. More economic activity allows us to reduce the tax burden on individuals, and that lowers the cost of living, also.
As a former substitute teacher, I know how hard they work. My education initiatives focus on community and teacher empowerment so our students are better prepared for the global 21st-century economy.
Affordable housing will remain a priority of mine until we solve the problem. I know there are creative and innovative ways to solve this issue for the long term so all of Hawai‘i’s residents can afford to stay close to their ‘ohana.

MUFI HANNEMANN (Independent)
My immediate priority upon taking office is to assemble a nonpartisan cabinet, just like I did when I was mayor, that will be selected based on qualifications and merit and not on politics. Second, review the legislative package that we’ll inherit as to whether it makes sense, as well as take steps to begin an audit and review of certain programs by a volunteer group aimed at making government more efficient and accountable, something I did at the city when I was first elected as mayor. Third, reach out to the Legislature to signal a new era of collaboration and invite other elected officials and the community to participate in this dialogue. Fourth, invite county mayors to be part of the Hawaii Council of Leaders, where we will demonstrate that five minds are better than one in tackling the state’s most challenging issues, like homelessness, state hospital system, energy, affordable housing and the like. Fifth, meet with our congressional delegation so that we identify priority federal issues we would need help on and lay out a strategy where we will speak with one voice.

DAVID IGE (Democrat)
There are many areas that my administration will focus on if I am elected governor. The top five priorities include:
• Improving our public education system, allowing our children to reach their highest potential, which will translate into a Hawai‘i workforce with the skills and knowledge necessary for a strong economy.
• Strengthening our economy and creating well-paying jobs to support a strong middle class and provide opportunities for our young people is a top priority. Examples include supporting and growing our visitor industry by creating another entry port through Kona Airport and working with our congressional delegation to improve the immigration and pre-clearance for international visitors; working to restore the federally funded jobs that have declined in recent years; developing a new information industry, bringing with it business opportunities and high-paying jobs; and facilitating the availability of risk/venture capital for entrepreneurs and innovators in strategic growth areas.
• Addressing the homeless issue, as it is reaching near-crisis levels in our Islands. Homeless issues and solutions are complex because the homeless population is diverse. It includes families with children, the elderly, victims of domestic abuse, the disabled, veterans, unemployed or underemployed workers, and individuals with mental illness or victims of substance abuse. Each group has different needs and, as governor, my administration will produce solutions ranging from emergency shelters to transitional housing for working families and affordable rentals.
• Affordable housing is a critical issue facing many in our state. I see my own three children, now away at college, struggling with the decision to come home because of the concern that they will not be able to afford a place to live. Please read my response to the specific question below on affordable housing.
• Hawai‘i’s environment is truly special. My administration will be proactive in preserving and protecting our fragile environment for future generations. We can have both a healthy environment and responsible economic growth through comprehensive planning that engages environmental interests, development interests and other community interests.

2) THE COUNCIL ON REVENUES RECENTLY DOWNGRADED HAWAI‘I’S REVENUE PROJECTION BY $100 MILLION. AS GOVERNOR, WHAT WILL YOU DO TO DEAL WITH THAT PROJECTED LOSS OF REVENUE?

JAMES “DUKE” AIONA (Republican)
The first step is to get control of spending. Moving forward, we need to find ways to increase government accessibility in a streamlined manner. Technology can help. We can work smarter, not harder.
Second, we need to expand our economy so we can bring in more revenue through our economy, as opposed to taxes and fee increases.
I will actively look for opportunities to increase economic development in our state, particularly in naturally competitive industries like astronomy, marine and ocean sciences, and creative industries like digital and film production.
A healthy, thriving business environment will spur increased tax collections. It’s about solving the problem at its core, not simply bandaging the symptoms. We can also ensure that everyone is paying his or her fair share of taxes.

MUFI HANNEMANN (Independent)
Through the audit and review process, I would begin to eliminate wasteful spending; identify inefficiencies, especially as it relates to collecting taxes that are lawfully due; and begin the process of streamlining government. By doing so, we could realize savings as well as collect more revenues.
I would also revisit the budget and determine whether all of the existing priorities should continue. The practice has been that priorities are set, but are woefully underfunded. The net result is little to no progress is ever made on a number of fronts. We would narrow our focus, working on the solutions that offer us our best opportunities to resolve our most pressing challenges.
Most importantly, we would work to grow the economy in ways that generate more revenues. Particular attention will be given to tourism, where I will be able to bring my experience and ideas to the table as a state director of DBEDT, president and CEO of Hawai‘i Lodging and Tourism Association, executive with C. Brewer and Co. and tourism chair of the U.S. Conference of Mayors.

DAVID IGE (Democrat)
As Senate Ways and Means chair for the past four years, I have successfully balanced the state budget during periods when the Council on Revenues projected revenue downgrades. During this period, along with my House colleague, Finance chair Sylvia Luke, we cut more than $1 billion in proposed state spending. This required very difficult decisions, including reducing funding for nonessential state programs and appropriating less funds than requested by many agencies.
As governor, my approach to supporting a balanced state budget will continue to be cautious and fiscally responsible. I understand what it’s like as a legislator to receive new program and increased appropriation requests during periods when state revenues are declining. As governor, I will work with my department heads to ensure budget requests are realistic during times of lower revenue projections.
As governor, I will work with our state Tax Department to ensure all current taxes due are collected before raising taxes. There are estimates between $300 million to $500 million in outstanding taxes currently owed to the state.
3) SHOULD THE STATE ENTER INTO PUBLIC-PRIVATE PARTNERSHIPS — AND IF SO, WHAT KINDS OF PARTNERSHIPS? IF NOT, WHY NOT?

JAMES “DUKE” AIONA (Republican)
Public-private partnerships may hold some promise for Hawai‘i, but not all public-private partnerships are the same; they really need to be considered on a case-by-case basis to ensure they benefit the people of Hawai‘i without huge job losses or reductions in services.

MUFI HANNEMANN (Independent)
Yes. Public-private partnerships make sense when the private/nonprofit sectors are better able to adequately fund and provide quality products and services than the government. Case in point is patient-centered health care. I was the first of the gubernatorial candidates to state that the time is right to support the idea of the Hawaii Health Systems [Corporation] entering into public/private partnerships that will lead to greater operating efficiencies and financial stability, as well as ensuring a more stable and quality work environment for the medical staff, who shoulder the responsibility of providing health care services to the patients.
For those who question whether this is possible, we can look to the public/partnerships that the Hawai‘i Pacific Health established with Wilcox Memorial Hospital. We can also look at what The Queen’s Health Systems has done with regards to the former St. Francis Hospital in ‘Ewa, O‘ahu, as well as how it is moving forward with North Hawai‘i Community Hospital. In addition, Kaiser Permanente Hawaii has also expanded its services in the neighbor islands. These efforts provide models for further partnerships that raise the quality of patient care while putting local facilities on a sound economic footing and creating high-quality employment opportunities for a wide range of the medical staff.
Another example is the idea of restoring an interisland ferry system, which I have pledged to do beginning with a collaborative community-based approach and eventually conducting an EIS, something that the previous state administration failed to do. For small businesses, it will dramatically reduce their cost of doing business and lead to an increase in commerce and jobs throughout the state. Big Island farmers will have a much more affordable option for getting their products to the larger O‘ahu market. The bottom line is that a ferry system will help bolster our economy.

DAVID IGE (Democrat)
Yes, I support public-private partnerships as a means to both manage and provide needed funding to some of our essential state-provided services. The shape of any public-private partnership requires the participation of all stakeholders to create more sustainable business models, resulting in a more efficient system and operational framework to continue providing high-quality, economically feasible services.
As governor, I will immediately support the exploration of public-private partnerships to address, for example, the Hawaii Health Systems Corp. efficiency issues, build more affordable rental housing, manage our public housing and address the statewide homeless issues.

4) AS GOVERNOR, WHAT KINDS OF PEOPLE WILL YOU APPOINT TO THE BOARD OF EDUCATION?

JAMES “DUKE” AIONA (Republican)
I’m looking for people who are ready to lead in an innovative way. A healthy, thriving public school system is one of the best investments the state can make and I’m committed to improving our education system.
My Board of Education will include innovative, creative thinkers.
Yes, we need business people on the Board of Education, but I think teachers and administrators need fair representation on the Board of Education, as well. We need a Board of Education that is balanced and reflective of education. I think the community and parents need fair representation on the Board of Education. I think we need to make sure that the neighbor islands are fairly represented in the Board of Education. Students also need representation on the Board of Education.

MUFI HANNEMANN (Independent)
I would seek to appoint individuals who, first and foremost, are committed to ensuring that our public schools become one of the nation’s best places to learn. They must also subscribe to the practice of empowering principals and teachers so their schools meet the needs of their students and communities while ensuring all students graduate college-ready, employment-ready and citizenship-ready.
I would build a diverse team whose professional and personal experiences prepares them well to collaborate with Department of Education administrators and educators and other educational stakeholders to identify ways in which our children grow up to be lifelong learners. The Board must also fairly represent all the islands.
Each member must be able to actively engage in board and committee meetings, producing a body of work that leads to the achievement of stated student outcomes. They must regularly visit schools so they can interact with students, teachers, principals and parents.

DAVID IGE (Democrat)
As governor, I will appoint individuals to the Board of Education who have a direct stake in the system’s success, including those with children in public schools

5) ONE OF THE BIGGEST PROBLEMS FACING THE HOMELESS AND THOSE JUST A PAYCHECK OR TWO FROM BECOMING HOMELESS IS THE LACK OF AFFORDABLE RENTAL HOUSING. DO YOU HAVE A PLAN FOR CREATING MORE AFFORDABLE RENTAL HOUSING? IF SO, WHAT IS IT?

JAMES “DUKE” AIONA (Republican)
My first affordable housing initiative increases funds to the Rental Housing Trust Fund without raising taxes, ensuring that an estimated 19,000 people have affordable housing within the next seven years.
Additionally, I have a plan that will, over time, decrease the need for state-funded affordable housing. This plan, a home ownership incubator, enables participants to automatically save for a down payment on a home while providing them with housing stability, affordability and training on home ownership responsibilities. I estimate approximately 5,200 people on all islands will be able to participate in this program which is ready to go the day I’m elected governor.
Home ownership is important to anyone who wants to stay in Hawai‘i, because it enables families to plan their finances without being subjected to the rising rents; it also provides generational equity and financial security. This program will enable returning kama‘äina to stay in Hawai‘i; it will enable aging citizens to plan for housing that remains in their control.

MUFI HANNEMANN (Independent)
Yes. I believe the state government can and should facilitate the development of affordable rentals, as well as housing at all price points. That being said, the government should not be in the business of being the developer.
We envision the government making available state lands where housing can be developed by private-public partnerships. This option includes commercial and residential mix housing. Also, the state can better organize, coordinate and offer wrap-around services that enable homeless individuals to become desirable long-term tenants.
This will also be one of the highest priorities of the Hawai‘i Council of Leaders. This would ensure that the state and all the counties will be focused on resolving this issue together.

DAVID IGE (Democrat)
We have a homeless issue statewide, as well as a need for more affordable housing.
To aid working individuals and families who cannot afford to own a home and struggle to pay rent, a significant expansion of affordable rental housing is needed in both urban and rural areas across the state. In this 2014 session, I helped to dramatically increase funding — from $17 million to $33 million — for the Rental Housing Trust Fund, which partners with private builders to build subsidized housing.
As governor, I will:
• Leverage additional state funding to attract more private investment to construct more affordable housing.
• Upgrade and increase public housing. Our state public housing needs to be managed and operated by qualified nonprofit and private companies so tenant issues are immediately addressed and facilities are properly maintained.
• Work with the counties to expedite planning and construction approvals so that affordable rental housing can be built in a shorter time and at lower cost.
• Identify and develop vacant and underutilized state lands for affordable housing near O‘ahu rail stations, public transportation and employment centers, and, whenever possible, include daycare, senior centers and community facilities as part of new affordable housing site units added that are targeted for low-income seniors and those with special needs.
• Build more affordable housing units in Kaka‘ako, which is fully under state control. It provides a unique opportunity to generate new affordable housing. More than 5,000 housing units have been approved in Kaka‘ako recently, but less than 7 percent are affordable to the lower half of our population. I will reverse this trend and generate housing in Kaka‘ako affordable to families earning below the median wage.
As governor, to specifically address the homeless, I will:
• Collaborate with and support the counties’ efforts to address homelessness. Further support the Housing First initiative, which provides transitional and permanent supportive emergency housing. It also offers referral services for mental illness, addiction, job training and other social services.
• Continue to support homeless shelters that provide immediate physical and mental health relief for homeless individuals and families. Shelters provide the first step toward permanent rental housing and job market re-entry.
• Help our homeless military veteran population with affordable housing and support services and improve coordination with the Veterans Administration. Support the Judiciary’s Hawai‘i Veterans Treatment Court, which began last year, to help veterans arrested for nonviolent crimes and who may be suffering from PTSD, mental health problems or substance abuse with resources and treatment needed to get healthy, employed and acclimated back into society.
• Support paying return travel costs for persons who moved here from the Mainland under the mistaken belief that they could afford to live here, then exhausted their resources and now wish to return home.

6) WHAT QUALITIES AND EXPERIENCES DO YOUR LIEUTENANT GOVERNOR RUNNING MATE POSSESS THAT MAKE HIM/HER QUALIFIED TO IMMEDIATELY STEP UP AND CARRY ON THE BUSINESS OF THE STATE SHOULD ANYTHING HAPPEN TO YOU?

JAMES “DUKE” AIONA (Republican)
Elwin Ahu and I share many of the same experiences and principles. Like me, Elwin was raised in Pearl City and has also served as a judge.
Elwin is truly a man of service; he wants a Hawai‘i for the people of Hawai‘i as much as I do. He knows the way to a better government is through trust, respect and balance, and Elwin is as committed to those principles as I am. Elwin has served in leadership capacities all his adult life, always with humility and kindness.
Having been a lieutenant governor, I know what is required of the job and I am proud to have Elwin as my running mate; I am confident that should the need arise, he would make a terrific governor for the people of Hawai‘i.

MUFI HANNEMANN (Independent)
Les Chang’s 30-year career in the U.S. Air Force has well prepared him to be an outstanding lieutenant governor and, if necessary, would be able to assume the responsibilities of the governorship. He possesses both executive leadership and management skills, having overseen a $1.1 billion budget with over 8,000 employees as Pacific Region commander for the Army and Air Force Exchange Services.
After retiring as a full colonel, he and I worked closely together for six years at Honolulu City Hall, with Les serving as the director of the Department of Parks and Recreation. Our time together cemented both a professional and friendship relationship that will serve us well as governor and lieutenant governor. Since we share the same vision for the state and have collaborated from day one to develop our candidate platform, “Common Ground for the Common Good,” if need be, he could step forward to continue the work we started together.
He is a man of impeccable integrity with a compassionate heart. Bar none, there is no other lieutenant governor candidate that is more qualified and experienced than Les Chang.

DAVID IGE (Democrat)
The lieutenant governor plays a valuable role in the administration of the state, including the most important duty of serving in place of the governor in his/her absence. Having served as the lieutenant governor for the last two years, Shan Tsutsui is highly qualified to serve as not only lieutenant governor, but also acting governor in my absence. During his time in office, Shan has demonstrated the ability to work closely with the administration and to complement the administration’s work through special programs and initiatives.
As lieutenant governor, Shan has demonstrated his understanding of the responsibility of being well-informed of operations and issues of the executive departments to ensure the ability to fulfill the governor’s duties, such as last year when he served as acting governor during the federal government shutdown. Shan worked with the cabinet to ensure federally funded state services/programs were uninterrupted.
Additionally, Shan is a strong leader, having served as Senate president, majority caucus leader, and vice chair of the Ways and Means Committee. His knowledge of the state budget and the economy, coupled with his broad experience with education and social issues in the Legislature and as lieutenant governor, give him a unique perspective and expertise to not only aid in administration operations, but also to successfully lead the administration, if and when necessary.

7) FOUR OF YOU ARE RUNNING FOR GOVERNOR. IF YOU HAD TO VOTE FOR ONE OF YOU — EXCLUDING YOURSELF — WHO WOULD GET YOUR VOTE AND WHY?

JAMES “DUKE” AIONA (Republican)
I respect and admire the courage of all of my opponents for running for office; however, with my background as an attorney and judge, I think it’s the best to plead the fifth on this.

MUFI HANNEMANN (Independent)
Les Chang and I are running because we believe we are the right leaders at the right time to move Hawai‘i to a better future.

DAVID IGE (Democrat)
Hawai‘i voters are very fortunate to have four candidates interested in representing them as the next governor of our great state. It is my hope that everyone will get involved in the process and take time to learn about each of us. There are numerous public forums across the state and I encourage voters to attend or watch on television.
I leave the decision to the voters of Hawai‘i who will elect the next governor on Tuesday, Nov. 4. Regardless of their choice, I encourage everyone to take part in the democratic process and cast their vote.

8) RELAY ONE EXPERIENCE FROM YOUR CHILDHOOD THAT TURNED IN A LIFELONG LESSON THAT WILL HELP YOU AS GOVERNOR.

JAMES “DUKE” AIONA (Republican)
My mom was a teacher for 40 years; she was influential to thousands of lives, but she was humble and gracious about it. As a mother, she really balanced my childhood. She knew I was an active child and she allowed me the freedom to ride my bike in the red fields of Pearl City and play baseball and basketball with my friends, but I was only allowed to do so after I finished my homework and completed my chores. Early on, I learned if I wanted to play with friends, I needed to take care of business first.
Learning to balance play and responsibilities has been a key theme throughout my life. I’ve learned to stay focused, no matter the distractions. I’ve learned to focus on the long-term, not just immediate gratification, and I’ve learned that hard work matters.
My mom passed away in 2010, but I remain grateful for her positive influence on me.

MUFI HANNEMANN (Independent)
I lost my mom after I completed my first year in college. It was the most devastating blow in my life to say the least. My initial reaction was to return home to be with my dad, who was having great difficulty coping with the loss of his lifelong companion. I, too, felt I needed to be with my family and closest of friends to help me get through my ordeal. But upon further reflection, it was my mom who set the goal for me when I was in elementary school to graduate from Harvard University. I recalled how happy my mom and dad were when they came to visit me in Cambridge to watch me address my classmates and their parents during Freshman Class Weekend. So I decided to return to the East Coast and rise above the fray and turn this crisis into an opportunity to persevere to the end.
Given the myriad challenges facing our next governor to focus on solutions rather than being content with the problems that have been plaguing our state for decades, my attitude and approach can be summarized in one phrase: “No scared ’em — go get ’em,” and get the job done!

DAVID IGE (Democrat)
Growing up in a three-bedroom home in Pearl City with five brothers and two hardworking parents who just did what it took to get the job done is the foundation of who I am today and how I lead. My father was a member of the 100th Battalion/442nd Regimental Combat Team and was awarded the Bronze Star. After the war, he became a steelworker. He never spoke about his wartime experience — he showed me that action is much more important than words. My mother worked as a dental hygienist and nurse — both grew up on plantations.
In my childhood, I learned how to respect differing views, compromise, be strong when needed and move forward, because it was in the best interest of the family. From this I learned my three basic tenets of leadership that I will bring to the Office of the Governor:
Be respectful and listen to all views.
Be open and honest in communication.
Do the right thing, the right way.
I humbly ask you to choose the Democratic Ige-Tsutsui ticket on Tuesday, November 4th, and allow me to serve as your next governor of this great state.

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