6/20/17 #kihei Last evening current Lieutenant Governor Shan Tsutsui and South Maui Representative Kaniela Ing each had nearly an hour to present, discuss and answer questions from about 30 guys from several Community Associations at the Alliance of Community Associations regular monthly meeting yesterday. (We dominated participation with three directors, two past officers as well as several members*** go Kihei!)

Of course Tsutsui has already stated he is relinquishing his executive seat, which he secured in 2012 election, with the intent to throw his hat into a potentially crowded field in 2018. Before that he spent several years in the Senate, departing as the senate president.

The younger Ing will have to decide whether to seek reelection for this fourth term in the house or to chuck it and run for the county’s executive leader. Since initially taking this seat also in the 2012 election, he has easily retained the position, even from a strongly connected, well-financed Deidre Tegarden in 2016.

Generally Ing’s positions and policies are better know to most guys in our district because of his current local representation, while the number 2 seat in the state administration is often invisible to the public.

Neither one confirmed they would run for this office, and we did not even hear any definite comment when they would confirm or not. But the two hours did allow all attendees to hear from each of them via presentations and answers to questions.

Some highlights from Kaniela:

  • Why would Kaniela run for mayor while in the State House? He has noticed that most of the issues he cares about are mostly local. Also, while he got a number of good things passed in the House, he is mostly swimming against the current there because it is so Oahu-centered and because the construction industry and their allies have so much money to influence things there.
  • If Kaniela runs for mayor, it will be a campaign against corruption, against cronyism, for a County Manager structure, and for affordable housing through enforcement of inclusionary zoning laws, bringing together environmentalists, affordable housing activists, and labor for grassroots action, and serious investments in housing infrastructure through bonds.
  • Kaniela is skeptical of privatization of the government, including public-private initiatives. He fought to shut down the PLDC.
  • For Kaniela, homelessness is the top issue in Hawaii. Only $200M invested in Hawaii in Housing First, not nearly enough. Law Enforcement Assisted Direction (LEAD) has police help homeless get to service providers. Doing sweeps and pushing people around Kahului doesn’t solve anything.

Highlights from Shan:

  • For Shan, Maui is now at a crossroads with 37,000 (sic) acres of former cane land, the lack of affordable housing, and the homelessness.
  • A mayor can give the power of government back to the people. The solutions are right here in the room, engaging people in the process.
    The perception and the reality of where your contributions come from are important, who you feel accountable to.
  • Contemplating self-imposed donor limits. Ideally 90% of funding local.
  • Should not allow deviations from the General Plan.
  • Conceptually, County Manager is a great idea.
  • Had power in the senate and especially as senate president, but gets overridden or shunted aside as lieutenant governor; a figurehead to some extent.
  • West Maui traffic: should do it in phases, even if it costs more. TAT should be used for the West Maui highway realignment.
  • Next mayor should focus on affordable housing, no more million-dollar homes until that problem is solved.
  • Every project under him has a timeline with an estimated completion date. If obstacles appear, he calls the people in to meet and resolve them.
  • Important to be able to have discussions with people on both sides.
  • Will never promise anyone a job, e.g. Parks Director.
  • DLNR, Vector Control, DoH have lost so many positions that enforcement of laws has suffered.
  • Tried to get both Abercrombie and Ige to do longer-term collective bargaining contracts. Need to redo the defined benefits structure.
  • Need to look into public-private initiatives to get more done with little money.
  • People want a working mayor, not photo ops.
  • Has always been for home rule.

Both said they are far from deciding if they will run for mayor, and that a lot depends on who the other candidates are.

The next meeting is scheduled for July 17 with presenters (and possible mayoral candidates) Councilmember Don Guzman and former five term Councilor Mike Victorino