Candidates for Hawaii’s next lieutenant governor shared their visions for the state at a forum Wednesday night.
There hasn’t been a more packed race for the position in recent memory.
The event was hosted by Hawaii Pacific University, and moderated by department chair and professor John Hart.
“We envision the forums as a way for the candidates to help introduce yourselves to the state’s voters and to provide them with as much information as possible in making their choices,” Hart said.
The lineup featured: state senators Josh Green, Jill Tokuda, and Will Espero, Kauai Mayor Bernard Carvalho Jr., and former Board of Education member Kim Coco Iwamoto, who are all Democrats, and Marissa Kerns and Jeremy Low, who are Republicans.
Each candidate presented opening and closing statements, and answered the same questions in rotating order.
One of the questions was, what does each candidate believe is the most pressing issue facing the state?
Kerns: “Mine is transportation. Once again, transportation is one of the most important things to our economy.”
Low: “You get out of the way when businesses want to create new jobs, when they want to invest, they want to expand.”
Tokuda: “We need to make sure we push for progressive programs and services that really will take off that burden our families, because people need help now.”
Carvalho: “I believe the lieutenant governor’s office should take on the responsibility for emergency response. I understand what it means with two hurricanes and flooding, and knowing what it has to do with first responder teams, shelter managers, first aid stations, disaster centers, emergency response teams, all of it.”
Espero: “As the Senate housing chair, I want to end homelessness. I want to make certain our residents have affordable housing and rentals, because housing is the number-one cost driver on the cost of living here.”
Green: “There are many parties and working class folks who need help, because everyone is one or two paychecks from becoming homeless, which is why this is the largest issue we have to deal with. The fact that we have 12,000 homeless among us in a relatively rich state, of them, 20 percent are chronically homeless.”
Iwamoto: “At the legislature, the voices of the neighbor island voters and citizens are silenced. We don’t offer them any kind of remote satellite testimony, which we could do when I am lieutenant governor. I will set up a remote satellite into our office.”
So far, none of the Democratic lieutenant governor candidates have made an endorsement in the governor’s race.
HPU will hold a similar forum for the Congressional District 1 candidates in March.