HONOLULU (KHON2) — Mayor-Elect Richard Bissen joins KHON2 News on KHII for a one-on-one dialog about his victory and his first priorities as mayor.
KHON: Thank you so much for joining us today.
Get news on the go with KHON 2GO, KHON’s morning podcast, every morning at 8
BISSEN: Thank you for having me, aloha.
KHON: And congratulations, sir, on your victory in the election.
BISSEN: Thank you again for that, yes, we’re very happy.
KHON: What are your top priorities day one, when you hit the ground running?
BISSEN: We’re going to start before day one, to put our team together. We’re going to start that now. We want to encourage folks to submit their resumes, so they can be interviewed by our transition team. You know, we want to recruit folks, we want to retain folks that are interested in their positions, if they’re doing a good job. And we also want and expect to get folks who will just submit their applications because they’re interested in the position. So that’s our main goal is to put our team together, and then start working on the issues.
KHON: You’ll be in the executive branch, and you’ll have to work hand in hand with the legislative branch. We did see those county council seats flip a little bit. It looks like the progressive wing on the council kept or won many seats, but the pro-development side also gained and the council appears about split almost evenly at this point. How will you navigate those competing interests on the Valley Isle?
BISSEN: By showing respect to all sides, all those folks that might have identified with different positions or policies, I want to build relationships. Although I’ve not been a politician before, I have worked in government. I’ve worked with different agencies. And I think I’ve built pretty solid relationships with people where I’ve shown respect, I’ve received respect, and I expect that we will work well together because U think, ultimately, our goals are the same, which is to have our residents prosper.
GINA: Would you say you lean to one side more than the other more often?
BISSEN: No, I don’t think I do at all. You know, I think we need homes for our residents. I think we need clean water, clean air, clean beaches. I don’t think they’re mutually exclusive. I understand other people want to make that as if it’s an us against them. But I really think we can do both, and that’s what I see as compromise. I think where you build it and who you sell it to and who lives in it is what matters. But I think we agree we need homes.
KHON: We sure saw a lot of interest in same-day or last-minute voting yesterday on Maui in particular, a huge influx of people at the one voter service center that was opened for Maui island, and a whole lot of ballots that came in by mail and dropbox. Will you work with your county clerk there to the extent that they can try to open up more same-day voter service centers or something to accommodate this? There are two more years to do it ahead of the next election.
BISSEN: I think that’s what the public wants, and I think we should always be mindful of what we can do to make it –I don’t want to say the word convenient — but to help our voters be able to submit their ballots. I think one of the things you have to consider, and this is not a joke, is a charter amendment that says we can’t have more than five charter amendments on any ballot. As I looked through the state, no other county had anywhere near the number of charter amendments we had.
KHON: Is there anything else you want to say to the viewers, the voters and your constituents at home who are watching?
Check out what’s going on around the nation on our National News page
BISSEN: Well, of course I want to say thank you. I’m very happy, very honored, very blessed to be a Maui boy able to lead our county. I feel like I understand our folks, our people our kamaaina and I think we all are working towards doing what’s best for them and I’m eager to get started.