This year, 2020, will be an important year in electing a new mayor.

The big issues, such as responding to COVID-19, rail, crime, climate, environmental protection, housing, monster homes, the houseless living on the streets, etc., will be on many minds.

You will be asked about these constantly.

Yet there are other persistent mayoral responsibilities, seemingly smaller issues, that could reveal how much you know, how much you have thought about the job, how you might govern, and your priorities, that voters might find of interest.

All of these must be addressed with the specter of reduced revenues.

Honolulu Hale bathed in sunrise light.
Honolulu Hale in 2019. A new mayor will be elected this year. Cory Lum/Civil Beat/2019

Here are 10 questions for Honolulu mayoral candidates:

  1. How do you define innovation? Can you give us three specific examples of innovations you would promote as mayor?
  2. State and federal monies flow to each county for senior services. Honolulu is the only county that does not appropriate county funds to increase and improve senior services. Would you continue this practice of no City and County funding? If so, why? If you would promote annually appropriating county funds, how much?
  3. What is your definition of an age-friendly city? How might our insights into the vulnerabilities of seniors during the pandemic shape your view of this?
  4. Which city departments do you believe are overfunded? Underfunded?
  5. Bulk items, piled up rotting trash in Chinatown, and what to do with it all suggest we could do better in addressing our trash. What would you do to improve this situation?
  6. Water and sewer lines are breaking constantly. Will you be proposing any new initiatives or budgets to address this? Specifically?
  7. Honolulu’s streets are notoriously poorly maintained. Other than echoing this lament, what kinds of actions would you take to improve our streets?
  8. On the mainland, some jurisdictions have a standard limit of how much time a road can be closed down when there is an accident — in some cases, one hour or less. In Honolulu, highways and streets are often closed literally for hours. Your response?
  9. We are short on attracting new recruits for law enforcement. Other than increased wages, what other “benefits” that may be outside of collective bargaining would you suggest to improve the recruitment and retention of future police officers?
  10. In other jurisdictions, public toilet facilities are clean, well maintained, and safe. This is true even of heavily visited tourist destinations. Specifically, how would you improve this situation?

Dear candidates, mahalo for reading this, reflecting on it, and hopefully working with your supporters and advisors to develop meaningful, specific proposals you can share with voters.

Dear community, when you host candidate forums or debates, please consider asking a few of these questions.

Every campaign season we get tons of emails and commentary from people supporting or opposing particular candidates. Campaign Corner is a forum for healthy — and civil — discussion of candidates and their issues. Endorsements and criticisms are part of a voter’s decision-making process. Here are the ground rules: The column must be written by an identifiable person and accompanied by a current head shot and brief bio. The commentary must be original and not published elsewhere. No campaign email blasts. No letter-writing campaigns. Send columns and questions to The opinions and information expressed in Campaign Corner are solely those of the authors and not Civil Beat.

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