Mayoral candidates Frank Fasi, left, Mufi Hannemann and Duke Bainum appeared at Hawaii Theatre for last night's debate.

Top 3 candidates spar
for Honolulu mayor

Fasi, Hannemann and Bainum
face questions from the public,
reporters and each other in
a debate with touches of levity

» Primary Election Guide 2004
» Rise in absentee voting affects campaigns

Mufi Hannemann says he is not a bully; Duke Bainum acknowledges he is "detailed-oriented"; and former Mayor Frank Fasi says he would not change anything about his management of the city for 22 years.

The three top candidates for Honolulu mayor -- two former city councilmen and the former mayor -- were questioned by reporters, the public and each other about their leadership style and other issues last night in a 90-minute debate on KHON-TV with a live audience at the Hawaii Theatre.

Election 2004

It was the final time the three candidates would share a stage before the Sept. 18 special primary election, when one candidate could win the race outright with one vote more than 50 percent of the total.

The three men came onstage in suits and ties and wearing leis, and each stood at a podium.

Bainum asked Hannemann how he can bring people together as mayor when he has been called a bully by former Council colleagues, managed former employees through intimidation and was called abusive by Mayor Jeremy Harris.

"I argue forcefully. I'm a debater," Hannemann responded.

Hannemann noted he has received endorsements from the majority of labor unions, business organizations and other groups.

"If someone is being bully, confrontational, abusive, how can he get such an overwhelming mandate?" he said.

Anchorwoman Leslie Wilcox asked the candidates what weaknesses they would need to strengthen.

Before last night's mayoral debate at Hawaii Theatre, supporters of Duke Bainum and of Mufi Hannemann crowded the corners of Pauahi and Bethel streets.

Hannemann said he needs to work on ensuring that those who might hold opposing points of views can always feel that they have a leader at City Hall who will listen.

"Those that'll agree with me, we'll move along; those that disagree, I want them to know that just because there may be a disagreement, that doesn't mean that they're going to be left from the decision-making process ... but that I will also be willing to hear a better idea, hear a better solution."

Bainum said that because he is a physician, he tends to be focused on the details. "I think most people want a physician who is detail-oriented."

Bainum said his management style now is to allow other people to take care of the details. "For myself, paint the vision," he said.

Hannemann asked Bainum about how he can cooperate with state and federal leaders when he could not work with state lawmakers of his own party and when he has no experience in working with the federal government.

Bainum said that while on the Council he secured federal funding through community block grants and that his relationship with the governor and Hawaii's congressional delegation has been "very good."

Bainum also said he has no plans to run for governor in 2006, "and quite frankly, I believe Gov. Lingle is doing a very good job."

When Fasi was asked about any weaknesses he would change, he replied that after being mayor for more than 20 years, "I don't have to make any changes."

"All right, you can say more if you want, Frank?" moderator Joe Moore pushed.

That was when a man in the audience yelled out, "Mayor Fasi, get 'em."

There were light moments in the 1,200-seat theater, half filled with supporters of all three candidates.

The humor began even before the program went on the air.

Moore thanked the audience "for attending this live debate tonight between me and June Jones," referring to the brouhaha between the two over the University of Hawaii fight song. A roar of laughter erupted from the crowd.

At another time, Fasi and Moore got into a disagreement over whether Moore should refer to Fasi as "Mr. Mayor."

Eventually, Moore addressed him "former mayor," and then "Mr. Mayor."

State Elections Office
www.hawaii.gov/elections Duke Bainum campaign
www.dukebainum.com Mufi Hannemann campaign

Gov. Linda Lingle was among those at Honolulu Hale yesterday casting her absentee ballot in the primary election.

Campaigns adjust to
increasing popularity
of isle absentee voting

At a recent campaign event, mayoral candidate Mufi Hannemann told the crowd that if they had already decided to vote for him, "vote early."

If not, "take all the time you need."

As candidates, political parties and labor unions push their supporters to vote absentee, elections officials are seeing a significant increase in the number of people casting ballots before election day. It is a trend that is changing traditional campaigns and could have an impact not only on the mayor's race, but on the Board of Education and other contests.

On Oahu more than 40,000 people have requested mail-in ballots, a 54 percent increase over the 26,000 mail-in ballots requested during the last mayor's race in 2000, said Honolulu City Clerk Denise De Costa.

Duke Bainum, Hannemann's main opponent, has also been trying to get supporters to vote absentee, said campaign spokeswoman Phyllis Kihara. "I'd like to think we've encouraged that (increase) and we had something to do with that," she said.

The trend is not just on Oahu. A day before the deadline to request a mail-in absentee ballot, the number of mail-in absentee ballot requests has set new records on the Big Island, Kauai and Maui County.

There were more than 4,700 requests for mail-in ballots on the Big Island compared with 2,900 in 2002. Maui received more than 5,000 requests, about 1,000 more than the last election. And Kauai has also seen a slight increase. Walk-in absentee voting appears to be about the same as in 2002, officials said, but that is also expected to pick up as the election draws closer.

Election officials say the increase is due to several factors: People find absentee voting more convenient; political parties, labor unions and candidates are more effective at getting their supporters to vote absentee; and the military has made an effort to ensure soldiers on deployment can exercise their right to vote.

Perhaps the biggest absentee voting efforts this year came from the Hawaii Republican Party, which sent out mail-in absentee voting applications to everyone the party believes is a Republican or a Republican supporter.

"You can't take any vote for granted," said Brennon Morioka, state GOP chairman.

Morioka noted that about 25 percent of voters in 2002 were absentee. The percentage is likely to be much higher this year, he said.

Campaigns have to account for that. "If you don't get your information out to the voters before they've voted, then you've lost your chance," he said.

Even though there are not that many contested Republican primary races, Morioka said the GOP would like to see a high turnout.

"If you vote in the primary, you're more likely to vote in the general. We want people to get in the habit of voting," he said.

Republican absentee voters are also being encouraged to vote for Gov. Linda Lingle's slate of candidates for the Board of Education.

State Democratic Party spokeswoman Donalyn Dela Cruz said while the party has not specifically targeted mail-in absentee voting, she expects a strong Democratic turnout.

"We're just glad the numbers are up. Now it's up to our candidates to convince the voters to vote for them," she said.

One potential problem with a large number of mail-in absentee ballots is an increase in the number of spoiled ballots because voters crossed party lines.

State law prohibits voting for more than one party in the primary election. Counting machines will detect cross-party voting during walk-in absentee voting and on election day and give voters the option to vote again, but that will not happen with mail-in votes.

Rex Quidilla, a spokesman for the state Office of Elections, said mail-in absentee voters who think they may have spoiled their ballots can call their county clerk and have their mail-in ballot pulled so they can vote at their polling place on election day.

Absentee applications due tomorrow

Applications for mail-in absentee voting must be received by close of business tomorrow by the county clerk.

Absentee voting applications are available at public libraries, U.S. post offices, satellite city halls, county clerk offices and state agencies. The application can also be downloaded from www.state.hi.us/elections.

Mail-in absentee ballots must be received by your county clerk no later than the close of polls on election day.

3 Oahu spots offer walk-in absentee voting

Voters can cast early walk-in absentee ballots on Oahu at the following locations through Thursday, except for Sunday. Three locations are open 8 a.m.-4 p.m.:

>> Honolulu Hale, 530 S. King St.

>> Windward Mall, on the first level, next to Sears, in the former Hopaco location.

>> Kapolei Hale, 1000 Uluohia St.

At Pearlridge Satellite City Hall, the hours are 9:30 a.m.-4 p.m. on weekdays and 8:30 a.m.-3:30 p.m. on Saturdays.

For more info, contact the Honolulu City Clerk at 523-4293.

For locations of early voting on neighbor islands, or for information on voting, call:

>> State of Hawaii Voter Hotline 808-453-VOTE (8683) or 800-442-8683.

>> Hawaii County Clerk: 961-8277.

>> Maui County Clerk: 270-7749.

>> Kauai County Clerk: 241-6350.



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