HONOLULU (KHON2) — KHON2 asked Honolulu Mayor Rick Blangiardi if running the City and County of Honolulu was what he expected on Wednesday, May 26.
It was Mayor Blangiardi’s first one-on-one interview with KHON2 since being sworn into the job on Jan. 2.
“The challenge just couldn’t be any greater,” Mayor Blangiardi said. “Everything has been exacerbated by COVID and we can’t talk about priorities without talking about economic recovery. But all the other issues are still there.”
He says the pandemic and all issues related to it have been at the top of his priority list.
“We really want to stay focused on leading into the hard stuff. As I said whether or not I want to do something, I don’t have any legacy projects in mind economic recovery everything and anything tied to that,” Mayor Blangiardi said. So I’ve never had a sense of responsibility like this before. But it’s not daunting it’s very energizing.”
Blangiardi feels positive about the future with more visitors arriving every day and the forecast for summer travel to be close to pre-pandemic levels. He understands the need for balance, however.
“I’m most concerned about that,” the mayor said. “About not subordinating for the almighty dollar the quality of life, or the people who live here work here who sacrifice to stay here. They shouldn’t have to sacrifice more.”
Regarding Oahu’s reopening tier system, Mayor Blangiardi says he understands Gov. Ige’s position on public health and safely, and works well with him. The mayor also says it is time to look forward.
“We’re literally days away from hitting Tier 4,” Mayor Blangiardi said. “We’ve now shifted the metrics from case counts and positivity levels to vaccinations.
“So we’re in a very different place than people anticipated, so all we’re trying to do is be relevant with that. But what makes sense all the same time keeping good public health a priority,” the mayor said.
The mayor says Rail and homelessness are the two biggest issues that need to be addressed going forward.
“We’ve been in the business right now putting together a very comprehensive plan. It’s very much a work in progress still but we’re going to go to the FTA and get some clarity that we can relate back to the public about expectations, that’s going to be a really important part. Homelessness, we’ve been working on since we got here. That was one of the reasons for wanting to run for office.
“But we’re setting up our core outreach program with the police to be the tip of the spear. We recognize it’s going to be providing social services and we recognize the need has become greater,” Mayor Blangiardi said.