Honolulu Star-Bulletin Local News
Crime, integrity
are top issues

The Star-Bulletin poll ranks criminal activity
as the key problem facing candidates for mayor

By Gordon Y.K. Pang

Crime and a candidate's integrity emerge as the two top issues in the mayor's race, according to the latest Honolulu Star-Bulletin Poll.

"Look at the front page (of daily newspapers)," said 68-year-old Hawaii Kai architect Arthur Siu, who said he will vote for former Mayor Frank Fasi. "Every day there's something not good and (it is) always crime-related."

"Crime is the biggest issue," said Richard Tsuruda, a retired Aina Haina postal worker who will be voting for Mayor Jeremy Harris.

"Other things like traffic and housing don't concern me."

Burglaries, shootings and other crimes are on the rise and Tsuruda, 60, suspects drug dependency is a major reason.

Tsuruda isn't the only with that theory.

Today's Oahu isn't like the one Kailua resident Thelma Botelho recalls. The 76-year-old Botelho said she's leaning toward voting for former Councilman Arnold Morgado for mayor.

"Drugs - there's too much on the street," Botelho said, noting that users are more desperate and more likely to commit burglary and other crimes.

"Gangs are the problem, and to go along with that come your drugs," said Jonathan Hurtado, 29. The Salt Lake music student said he's uncommitted in the mayor's race.

"To me, it's getting ridiculous," Hurtado said. "It makes the whole island look like it's full of a bunch of criminals. It's saddening, man."

Mayoral candidates have taken note. Harris and Morgado last week verbally battled over who has a better plan to put more police officers on the street. Fasi, meanwhile, has suggested that a "metro" squad be reinstituted to deal with youth gangs.

Harris and Morgado, asked to answer the poll questions before seeing the public's responses, either could not or would not prioritize. Both scored all issues a "five." That was in contrast to the general public, which did answer in a way that showed its priorities for the mayor's race.

Later, Harris and Morgado both said crime would be "the No. 1 issues." Fasi did not respond to Star-Bulletin queries.

A candidate's integrity had the largest number of "fives" among the 482 Oahu registered voters who took the poll, although some feel they'll have a difficult time measuring the quality.

"A candidate's integrity is almost impossible to tell," said Philip Moravcik, 39-year-old Manoa public information officer who is "leaning to" voting for Fasi.

"Their public faces may have nothing to do with what they're doing," he said. Moravcik said he'll be checking the voting records of each of the major candidates to see where they stand.

Yukue Noguchi, 79, said she's tired of politicians talking a good talk by doling out promises. Not anymore. "Not just saying someone something to get to look good," she said. "We need people with guts," said Nogushi, a Fasi supporter.

Carroll Taylor, a 52-year-old Kaneohe attorney has yet to decide on whom he'll vote for although he's narrowed the field to two.

"It's going to come down to a judgment call on who is leveling the most and being straight," Taylor said. "Don't promise me the moon and deliver me something less. I think in general, people have become more cynical because they've been promised so much and received so little."

Taylor said he might even vote for someone willing to admit that taxes would need to raised to retain the government's level of service so long as that person is being honest.

The Fasi camp considers integrity its major issue. Fasi, at a news conference yesterday, said the honesty of a candidate "should always be at the top of any list."

While the Morgado camp did not distinguish its priorities among the given issues, candidate integrity appears to be a key issue.

"Arnold is looking forward to working hard and educating the public as to the true facts and letting them make a decision," said Bill Meheula, Morgado campaign co-chairman. "He's confident that once they know the true facts they will vote for him."

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