How Blangiardi will take on transparency and environment as new mayor

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HONOLULU (KHON2) — In part three of our interview with Honolulu Mayor-Elect Rick Blangiardi, we delve into how trust will be restored after federal investigation scandals and what his first-year priorities will be. Read Part 1 here, and read Part 2 here.

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KHON2 asked the incoming mayor how he will approach transparency and ethics in the wake of federal investigations probing the county, and where climate and the environment stand on his priority list.

Blangiardi inherits a county apparatus that has been under the microscope quite a bit the past few years, from the Kealoha scandals that rocked the police and prosecutors departments, to the pending federal investigations involving Keith Kaneshiro, former Corporation Counsel Donna Leong, a subject letter to Mayor Kirk Caldwell’s Managing Director Roy Amemiya, and multiple subpoenas at HART.

KHON2 asked: “To the extent that there has been a breakdown in trust, including federal investigations, what can you do differently?”

“I think first and foremost, what’s happened is Steve Alm has now been elected prosecutor, so that’s going to be a big step,” Blangiardi said. “We know what we’ve been through, and looking backward, looking in the rearview mirror is not going to solve where we need to go. I’m looking through the front windshield right now on what’s possible. Those of us now myself included in the role, I’ll be held accountable, need to be at their very best. That’s going to be my expectation of everybody.”

Blangiardi’s predecessor established an office focused on sustainability, and during the week of Nov. 23, issues of climate change and the environment appeared to be headed to near cabinet-level significance in the incoming Biden administration.

KHON2 asked: “Is that executive-level sustainability role something you envision retaining in your cabinet structure?”

“We’re going to be meeting with them, the folks in charge right now. We can’t deny ourselves or kid ourselves that sea level rise is real,” Blangiardi said. “We may have to modify some of our plans. We have to be a little bit more balanced short-term going forward than some of the extreme measures I think we’ve taken before. But I want to see what all of that means once we have those kinds of conversations.”

KHON2 asked: “If I put on our calendar to meet again a year from now, what do you hope to tell me about your accomplishments of your first year looking back?”

“I would hope to tell you that first and foremost, we are seeing our tourism come back in a really good healthy way that we’ve gotten our people back to work and we’re dealing in a very, very solid way without chronic homeless, that we’ve made some real inroads on the big issues. Plus hopefully we will have come up with a game plan of decisions about rail that will make some sense, because right now, there’s more uncertainty than certainty about that project. That’s not anything to do with myself or anybody else. We’re going to have to deal with it.”

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