Candidates pledge to
aid at-risk kids

Gubernatorial hopefuls say
the state must commit to
preventing potential problems

Case vows misconduct crackdown
Isle parties court Clintion, Giulani

By Richard Borreca

Three of the four major candidates for governor agree that preventing the problems of child abuse and neglect, fractured families and crippling drug addiction is just as important as treating them.

Election 2002

Democrats Lt. Gov. Mazie Hirono and Rep. Ed Case and Republican Linda Lingle appeared yesterday before the Hawaii Children's Trust Fund forum at the Nuuanu YMCA to separately discuss the problems facing Hawaii's at-risk children.

The third major Democratic candidate, D.G. "Andy" Anderson, was unable to attend the forum, according to a spokesman for the campaign.

Hirono said that if elected, she would look for ways to make "systemic change" and also bring private agencies together with state resources.

She also promised to restore funding to the state's successful Healthy Start program, which identified new families that might have difficulty with new children.

"We are going to make a commitment to families that are at risk," Hirono said.

"The state also needs to make a stronger commitment to prevention," Hirono said.

Case said his campaign travels throughout the state have convinced him that the drug addiction problem is serious and needs immediate attention.

"We have to go back to the core functions of government, and protecting our children is one of those core functions," Case said.

"Ice is a major criminal agent, and it is a social and economic issue," Case said.

"So I believe in tough penalties and effective rehabilitation."

Republican Lingle agreed that drug abuse is a serious problem across the state, adding that prevention has not seemed as "glamorous for politicians because it is tough to brag about stopping something from happening."

Still, Lingle said when she was mayor of Maui, she set up programs to deal with unwed mothers and child care and coordinated county programs with federal efforts.

"We had a continuum of services," she said.

"The difference between myself and the other candidates is that you don't need to guess what I would do. I've had to balance a budget among competing needs, and it was during a recession," Lingle said.

For the social service workers in the audience, the three candidates appealed to different concerns.

"Linda Lingle talked more about child care than child abuse, but child care is also important," said Nanci Kreidman, executive director of the Domestic Violence Clearinghouse.

She worried, however, that money spent for prevention would mean less for treatment programs.

"For someone like me, that is terrifying. We need a strategy that will honor both things," she said.

Venus Hill, with the Good Beginnings Alliance, thought Hirono would bring a "strong sense of collaboration" to the governor's office and also has "a lot of knowledge about the state's political culture."

Case's "sense of grass-roots community" appeals to Hill, and she thought that Lingle knew how to work the needs of children into a community plan. But she thought either Hirono and Lingle would be best as governor because of their experience.


Case promises government
misconduct crackdown

By Richard Borreca

Saying public confidence in government is at an all-time low, state Rep. Ed Case, Democratic candidate for governor, is proposing campaign spending and government contract reforms and a special counsel to investigate misconduct.

At a news conference yesterday afternoon at the state Capitol, Case said he would reform bid and procurement laws that he said today "are ripe for abuse."

Case also promised that if elected, he would support laws to stop corporations, labor unions and contractors doing business with government from making political contributions to elected officials.

"I will also step up the debate on public financing of elections," Case said.

"The presence of special-interest money on our elections has made voters feel that they are at the mercy of a select few, the special interests," Case added.

"To restore public trust in state government, (my) plan starts with rooting out misconduct by government officials and breaking the link between campaign donations and government contracts," he said.

He said that although the administration of Gov. Ben Cayetano "on balance" has been a "clean one," the state should have a special counsel to work as an independent legal force to investigate allegations of misconduct.

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