HONOLULU (KHON2) — Following a crowded field of candidates in the August primaries, the voters have decided to have Lt. Gov. Josh Green (D) and former Lt. Gov. Duke Aiona (R) face off on Nov. 8 in Hawaii’s gubernatorial election.
Voters will receive their ballots in the mail by Oct. 21.
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KHON2 will be broadcasting the governor’s office debate on Wednesday, Oct. 5, at 7 p.m. on KHII and 9 p.m. on KHON2. There will also be a discussion between the two candidates for lieutenant governor.
To preview, Aiona and Green were asked 10 questions — a mix of serious and less serious ones — that both reflect their stance on issues as well as their personalities. One of them will succeed Gov. David Ige (D) who’s ending his second term and cannot run again.
Below are Aiona’s answers. Click here to see Green’s responses.
#1 If you were governor at the start of the COVID pandemic, would you do things differently? In what ways?
The current Lieutenant Governor and Governor were both responsible for the action taken at the start of the COVID pandemic. Josh Green went through great pains to be a part of all daily newscasts from the inception of the pandemic, with the facade that he was the policymaker, but in reality, he was just a reporter of numbers.
The current administration’s policies and method of communication are just a couple of areas that were not done effectively in response to the COVID pandemic. The determination as to who was deemed an “essential worker” had no reasonable basis nor was ANY reason communicated to the public for this determination. Yet these persons deemed “essential” were allowed to work and travel, while everyone else was “quarantined and locked” up in their homes. Without a reasonable basis as to who and why there was a need for the determination of “essential workers,” no one should have been “quarantined and locked” up in their homes.
The only people who should have been “strongly recommended” to abide by “quarantine protocols” were those people who were vulnerable or infected with the COVID virus. Those who had an illness would also be “strongly recommended” to abide by “quarantine protocols.”
The administration did not communicate to the public ANY reason as to HOW the determination was made to allow “big box” stores such as Costco, Target, and Walmart could remain open, while nearly ALL small businesses were ordered to be “locked down and closed.” Without a rational basis, let alone any basis for this determination, this should not have been done. As we know, this resulted in the loss of thousands of jobs and the permanent closure of many businesses.
The administration’s decision to “lock and close” down our parks and beaches to everyone should not have been done. Couple this with the administration’s policy to allow individuals to walk and bike in their neighborhoods and the inconsistency and absurdity of these policies becomes evident. This exasperated the mental and physical health of ALL of Hawaiʻi’s residents.
The current administration and the Department of Education’s decision to close down ALL public schools and restrict teaching to “virtual” learning was a disaster for the majority of the students. As a result of this policy decision, our students have lost by some estimates approximately a year and half of learning in their basic academic disciplines. For others, the damage is irreparable. Contrast this to the many private schools that continued with “in-person classroom” instruction. For those parents who were not comfortable, like many of the private schools, they could have been accommodated with “virtual” learning.
As to communication, unlike this current administration, ALL communication on all policies, directives, actions, and anything else related to the COVID pandemic by my administration, would have been made by one person, the Governor. Directors and other speakers could add to the message at the same press conference as the governor, but after the governor spoke and it would not be separate and apart from the governor’s message.
These are just some of the areas that as Governor, I would not have done or done differently.
#2 What’s your favorite local place to go to for food and what do you order?
For lunch, it’s Tanya’s Pies and Grill in Wahiawa – hamburger and an order of “well done” fries.
My favorite dinner order would be Japanese Teppanyaki or Teishoku. Tadashi Restaurant in Pearl Kai Shopping Center has been a long-time favorite. My wife and I miss Maru-Hi Restaurant in Mililani, which closed down during COVID.
#3 What’s your plan to help local businesses that continue to close? Why should they support your campaign?
Hawaiʻi has long been considered one of the worst states for local businesses. In fact, according to various studies that score states based on their business climate, Hawaiʻi is ranked 48, 43, 41 and 47.
The three main reasons it is so difficult for small business owners to operate in our state are: 1) cost-of-living; 2) our tax structure; and 3) our regulatory structure. Essentially, it is too expensive to own and operate a small business in our state, which limits the amount of business that are able to start in Hawai’i, and results in small business closures, especially during difficult times.
We need to reduce the cost-of-living, adjust the tax system so businesses can be less burdened, and reduce the amount of regulations entrepreneurs face before, during, and after starting a small business.
Local business owners should support our campaign because the status quo has not prioritized small business. Instead of making it easier for local businesses to thrive, the one-party controlled government in Hawaiʻi have smothered their growth by implementing the strictest and longest lockdowns in the country, maintaining high taxes, requiring businesses to provide certain benefits, and regulating what a business can and can’t provide for its customers. Unless we are elected, small business owners can expect more of the same. Local businesses are the lifeblood of our communities, and we need to do better.
#4 What advice would you give yourself at age 16?
Be a better student in history and take up golf.
#5 What are your top 3 priorities as governor?
There are many priorities. There are so many long-standing issues that have not been addressed or not effectively addressed by our elected representatives. Couple this with the corruption that is rearing its ugly head in our state government, we need to fix our moral compass and establish trust and respect in our state government. You start with action and not empty promises, thus being transparent and honest in our actions and policies. It is essential to listen and engage the people in government and not special interest groups and big money.
Balance – a two-party system will bring transparency, innovation, discussion, credibility, and accountability to both the legislative and executive branches of government.
The Hawaiʻi Homeownership Solution, a solution to providing affordable housing and rentals for our local residents.
#6 Hawaii is currently ranked the worst state for teachers. Why do you think that is and what’s your plan to fix it?
First and foremost, our teachers are underpaid. The fact that our cost-of-living is the highest in the nation, and that Hawaiʻi has the highest average home prices only makes the problem worse. Our teachers deserve better.
One of my priorities for improving teacher recruitment, hiring, and retention for quality teachers is to raise their salaries. Our teachers pay must be based upon their skills, qualifications, talent, professional development, and performance in the classroom, in short, “merit” and not tied to an across-the-board salary schedule. To do this without raising taxes, I plan to conduct an independent fiscal and management audit of the Department of Education to provide an objective and transparent review and analysis of the strengths, weaknesses, and improvements that are needed with the administration and fiscal management of the Department of Education.
Our long-standing issue with affordable housing and cost of living is another reason why we have a difficult time recruiting, hiring and retaining quality teachers. Our Hawaiʻi Homeownership Solution addresses how we can produce affordable housing and rentals that are based upon our resident’s income, not the general market price. Through this solution, we will produce the “work force” housing that is needed. Many teachers have noted housing as a barrier to recruiting, hiring and retaining quality teachers.
Savings in our energy costs, elimination of the GET for food and medicine, modification or elimination to the “Jones Act” to reduce shipping costs, and our Hawaiʻi Homeownership Solution to produce affordable housing are ways that we will reduce the cost of living.
Another reason Hawaiʻi is ranked as the worst state for teachers is because of our retirement system. Unfunded liabilities have been allowed to grow largely unchecked; a result of increased spending without securing a way to pay for it, and raids to the funds by previous administrations. If our state’s unfunded liabilities are allowed to continue growing, current teachers and other public workers could see their pension benefits cut, the retirement age increased, or their employee contribution increased. We must keep our promise to these workers and enable them to retire with security and peace-of-mind.
We are committed to meeting the state’s obligation to make contributions to the health and retirement funds, and to assuring that each employer complies with its mandated contribution to the fund. I will not allow this issue to continuously be ‘kicked down the road.’
#7 During your time as LG, what was one thing you wanted to accomplish but didn’t? What was the reason?
Establishing a sports commission. I started the initiative a little too late into my second term and ran out of time.
#8 If you could compare yourself with an animal, what would it be and why?
My rotti Makaʻala. We both had a lot of energy and love to play hard!
#9 What sets you apart from your opponent?
Due to my experiences as a litigator, judge, Lieutenant Governor, father, grandfather, and keiki o ka `āina, I am uniquely qualified to serve the people of Hawaiʻi in ways that my opponent is not.
From my days growing up in Pearl City until now, I have accumulated the skills necessary to be a thoughtful and effective leader. My leadership style is objective, collaborative, inclusive, and grounded upon my experience as a state judge and mediator. I believe in the wisdom to listen, facilitate, and direct opposing views towards a common goal. If I am elected, the decision process on issues and policies will be based upon what is ultimately best for all of the people of Hawaiʻi, and not on what the political “consequences” might be.
I ask the people of Hawai’i this question: how have your lives improved since my opponent has been in office? Our cost-of-living has only gone up, the price of housing is skyrocketing, crime is more prevalent, corruption is rampant in elected office and more and more of our family and friends are leaving our islands for better opportunities and quality of life on the mainland. It does not have to be this way. We can do better, and we must do better for our keiki, our kupuna, and everyone in between.
#10 What do you think will be your biggest obstacle in achieving your goals as governor, and how do you plan to address it?
I am not one to look at what are the obstacles in achieving my goals as governor. For example, I would not view the legislature as an obstacle, instead I see them as partners and developing an overall positive working relationship is a primary goal for me. What I do know is that through discussion, perseverance, thought, prayer, and patience, all challenges can be appropriately addressed and in most instances, resolved.
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What else do you want to know? Email your questions to email@example.com by Wednesday, Oct. 5.