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Gov. David Ige, state Rep. Andria Tupola square off in first televised debate

HONOLULU (KHON2) - Democrat Gov. David Ige and his opponent, Republican state Rep. Andria Tupola, squared off at the KHON2 studios Monday night. 

FULL DEBATE AT BOTTOM OF PAGE

With just three weeks left until the general election, Ige is intent on staying on as head of the state, but Tupola, who represents District 43 (Maili, Nanakuli, Ko Olina, Honokai Hale, Kalaeloa, Ewa), made it clear she wants to step up to the plate.

The first topic was Hawaii's high cost of living. 

"Hawaii's high cost of living has had an impact on many aspects of our state's economy, from housing prices to wages to groceries, and that affects hundreds of thousands of working families. Give us specific examples of your policies and plans that will benefit local families trying to make ends meet," asked moderator and Always Investigating reporter Gina Mangieri. 

Ige, who won the coin flip to speak first, said his administration worked to reduce the cost of living by reducing the cost of education. 

He brought up the Early College program, which allows any high school student to take college courses at the same time.

"We had the first cohort of students who finished the early college program and they actually graduated with their associates of art degrees before they graduated from high school," said Ige. 

Tupola countered by bringing up the amount of state taxes. 

"The reality is we're the second highest taxed state in the nation. Sometimes we're the first. We have the GE tax, TAT tax, income tax. Right now we definitely need to address that the GE tax is put on food and medicine. We've been proposing this every year since I've  been a legislator. We're only 1 of 7 states that taxes groceries. Something as simple as groceries and medicine, yet it is essential for every family across the state of Hawaii. In order to talk about Hawaii's high cost of living, we have to talk about decreasing taxes," said Tupola.

The opponents had the opportunity to ask each other questions. Tupola wanted to know specifics about affordable housing.

"I wanted to personally, how many homes were built for DHHL last year and how many of those 44,000 applicants can intend to get a lease with the Department of Hawaiian Home Lands within the next four years?" Tupola asked Ige.

"Well thank you for that question. I am very committed to restoring beneficiaries to the lands as required by the Department of Hawaiian Home Lands. We have appropriated $25.1 million in operating funds, the highest operating budget ever in the history of the department, which allows us to create the staff so we can implement the programs to move forward and get the job done," answered Ige. 

Ige next turned his attention to his opponent. 

"Andria, you replaced Rep. Beth Fukumoto as a minority leader in the House because she criticized President Trump. Are there any policies you disagree with President Trump on?" asked Ige.

"You know, we've had differences on various implementations of it. And as you know, the President doesn't make decisions by himself. There's a Senate, a Congress that balances those decisions," responded Tupola.

"Rep. Fukumoto's incident was not due to that. It was due to the fact that we wanted to have clear leadership and where we were going as a caucus. To me it was very, very important that we have a balanced, two party system. Even if we disagree, to find ways forward. I'm committed. We can't always choose who we work with, but we can always choose how we work with them. So even in the disagreements we had with the legislators or the federal government, I'm committed to always finding paths forward so the people of Hawaii can benefit from my decisions."

"The difference between myself and Andria is I disagree with Trump's policies on immigration, on affordable healthcare, on women's reproductive rights. I believe they are contrary to the values we share in our communities. I've chosen to challenge the president in those areas because I believe it is fundamentally important that we express our values that we share here, in Hawaii," countered Ige. 

Absentee mail ballots are being sent out by county voting officials. Cast your vote either early by mail or walk-in, or on Election Day on Tuesday, Nov. 6.

Click here for everything you need to know about Election Day.

Hawaii's Debate on demand

Governor candidates David Ige, D, and Andria Tupola, R, on:

Questions to each other:

Lieutenant governor candidates Josh Green, D, and Marissa Kerns, R, on:

Governor candidates David Ige, D, and Andria Tupola, R, on:

Questions to each other:

Lieutenant governor candidates Josh Green, D, and Marissa Kerns, R, on:

Lieutenant governor candidates closing statements

Governor candidates closing statements


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