Mass transit likely to drive mayoral debate


POSTED: Tuesday, October 28, 2008

The question of whose mass transit solutions are better for Oahu should take center stage tonight as Mayor Mufi Hannemann and City Councilwoman Ann Kobayashi confront each other in their final debate a week before the general election.





Candidates from 3 counties will face off

        Here is the estimated lineup for tonight's live debate at Hawaii Theatre on three county mayor's races hosted by and to air on KGMB9 from 6:30 to 9 p.m. Times could change.


» 6:30 p.m.: Kauai County mayoral candidates


» 7:05 p.m.: Big Island County mayoral candidates


» 7:30 p.m.: Honolulu mayoral candidates



The debate, hosted by KGMB9 News at the Hawaii Theatre, will air live from 6:30 to 9 p.m. and will include mayoral candidates from Kauai and the Big Island, but most of the time will be devoted to the Honolulu race starting as early as 7:30 p.m.

Both candidates will likely offer their transit plan as a solution to help bolster the local economy while also criticizing their opponent's proposals.

Hannemann has come out strong against Kobayashi, rejecting her recently proposed mass transit plan of an elevated three-lane highway, going as far as calling it a “;half-baked manapua”; in newspaper advertisements.

Kobayashi, who has campaigned on her commitment to fiscal responsibility, has been a vocal critic of Hannemann's $3.7 billion rail transit project primarily because of the high cost estimates.

His rail transit project was one of the main reasons Kobayashi decided to run for mayor, giving up her uncontested seat on the City Council.

Hannemann is determined to remind voters that Kobayashi's late entrance led to a scramble to fill her seat that ended with Hannemann's former opponent, Duke Bainum, in an uncontested race. Hannemann says he believes there was a deal struck, while Kobayashi adamantly disputes that.

Both candidates have appeared in a few forums together, but tonight's debate offers voters a better chance to see how the two interact directly.

In the last debate before the Sept. 20 primary election, Kobayashi took a more aggressive approach against Hannemann, calling him a “;bully.”; Hannemann, who has tried to shed that image, will have to balance defending himself and criticizing Kobayashi while not coming off too strong.

“;I think his aggressiveness is sometimes a distraction to what the issues are,”; said Kobayashi's campaign manager, Councilman Donovan Dela Cruz.

Jeff Coelho, one of Hannemann's closest advisers, who had coached him before previous debates, said it is better for the two to stick to the issues.

“;My recommendation would be to stick to the truth,”; Coelho said. “;I think the mayor is very confident in his style of leadership. ... He relies on the qualities handed down from his parents.”;