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The candidates even brought up rail when asked unrelated questions, such as when Carlisle was asked his motivation for running or Djou was asked how he would address homelessness.
Caldwell, left, said neighborhood boards should be kept, while Carlisle, center wanted to get rid of them and Djou said they needed reform.
All three candidates’ closing statements mentioned rail too.
Caldwell, per usual, defended rail in spite of harsh criticism from his opponents.
“You have all the permits, we’ve survived the lawsuits, and we’re well on our way,” Caldwell said, noting the bid for the last three-quarters of the system had just been awarded.
Still, he said an extra $1 billion to $1.5 billion could be needed to complete the route to Ala Moana.
Djou has taken to television ads that accuse Caldwell, without mentioning him by name, of allowing the rail project to fall “years behind schedule and billions over budget.” He’s said no money beyond the $6.9 billion allocated should be spent on rail. Stopping the project at Middle School may be one solution, but Djou has said he’s open to alternatives.
“What’s happening now is (rail) could bring our city to its financial knees,” Djou said during the debate.
As Honolulu mayor from 2010-2012, Carlisle helped get the rail project going. He’s said that if elected, he would ensure rail goes to Ala Moana instead of halting at Middle Street. Waiting to extend the project would dramatically increase costs, he said.
At the debate, Carlisle said Caldwell originally opposed rail and thought it would never get federal funding.
“You can’t flip flop back and forth,” Carlisle said.
Caldwell denied that and said he’d long been a supporter of rail.
Dan Grabauskas, head of the Honolulu Authority for Rapid Transportation, has been criticized for lack of transparency. He called a city audit critical of his leadership “a joke.”
Asked how he would address homelessness, Djou again brought the issue back to rail, saying homelessness was largely an economic problem and rail spending needed to be reigned in.
“We need a mayor who’s going to pay attention to this, and instead of expanding the size of the city bureaucracy, works with the nonprofit community and directs resources to the nonprofit community,” Djou said. “And that’s something you have my commitment to do.”
Carlisle said homeless individuals needed to be helped based on their specific needs. Criminals should be treated differently than the mentally ill, he said. Caldwell boasted his administration had housed almost 1,000 homeless individuals and families “one individual, one family at a time.”
A recent “point in time count” showed Oahu homelessness had increased by less than 1 percent (37 individuals) in the last year, but 11.5 percent less veterans were on the streets.
Honolulu Police Department
Honolulu Police Chief Louis Kealoha has been under federal investigation stemming from the theft of his mailbox and allegations that he and his high-ranking city prosecutor wife, Katherine, framed her uncle for the crime.