The five leading candidates for Honolulu mayor sat down for separate interviews last month with reporters from Civil Beat and Hawaii News Now to delve into why voters should hire them for the city’s top job.

We are publishing all five 60-minute interviews, along with complete transcripts and post-interview discussions with political analyst Colin Moore of the University of Hawaii’s Public Policy Center.

“The Job Interview” series continues with Kym Pine. Here’s the full video.

Here’s what Moore and the reporters had to say about how the interview went.

Read the full transcript of the interview below.

Mahealani Richardson, Hawaii News Now:

Aloha Kym Pine. Thank you so much for joining us. We have a very limited time with 60 minutes so we are just going to jump right into the questions. Our first question is, Why should voters trust you to lead Oahu out of this pandemic crisis?

Kym Pine, Honolulu Mayoral Candidate:

Because I’m the only one that’s been on the job right now, helping them get out of the pandemic crisis. No other candidate has been on the ground, in government, seeing what we can and cannot do ― seeing what we need to do in the future.

I’ve been studying this very complicated city system for 7 1/2 years and I can tell you it’s nothing like the state Legislature. It is a very different form of government just understanding the complexities of each department has taken many years for me to do. No one else can say that they can start on day one, except maybe one other candidate but he was mayor ― he quit ― so I don’t think he really wants to do the job anyway.

Daryl Huff, Hawaii News Now:

When you were on City Council you actually passed up the opportunity for leadership. I understand there was reorganization and you were being considered for chair but you chose instead to choose zoning so you actually passed on opportunity of leadership, Why did you do that?

Kym Pine, Honolulu Mayoral Candidate:

Because we were divided 4-4, and someone had to do something. I had three people that wanted budget. I had three people that wanted chairmanship and I had two people who wanted zoning and no one was moving and I was tired of fighting. I was tired of a divided city.

And so I gave half my committee in zoning to Ikaika (Anderson) for planning. I gave budget to Joey (Manahan), and then Ann (Kobayashi) leadership or chairmanship and the piece that happened after that was worth it.

Christina Jedra, Honolulu Civil Beat:

Councilmember, what single action would most improve the lives of Honolulu’s families now and future generations?

Kym Pine, Honolulu Mayoral Candidate:

Having an economy that no longer depends on the outside world to feed our families.

Christina Jedra, Honolulu Civil Beat:

How do you accomplish that as mayor?

Kym Pine, Honolulu Mayoral Candidate:

Diversify the economy. You can’t listen to the lobbyists of multi-billionaires from other countries or the mainland that are saying “tourism is the only thing for us.” I have worked for the last two years as the economic development and tourism chair looking for alternatives to the economy.

We already have an incredible infrastructure to grow product you can only get in Hawaii. We have new inventions for renewable energy that Exxon wants now. But there are developers here that are saying, “No if the state and city can partner with us we want to give it to the people of Hawaii.”

Christina Jedra, Honolulu Civil Beat:

So what would that look like? How does the mayor actually work to diversify the economy. What specific steps would you take?

Kym Pine, Honolulu Mayoral Candidate:

The first thing that I would do now is use some of the CARES act for a lot of those innovations that are ready to go. And a lot of people teased me when I said there is a great opportunity for the breadfruit industry and they think I just mean just eating breadfruit. They don’t understand the complexities and new inventions that have come out of breadfruit. Right now, I’m working with leaders who are about to sign agreements with 80,000 farmers in all of Polynesia.

The demand for breadfruit in Asia and some European areas is so high that the demand can’t be met because there is no supply chain that has been coordinated, so we are coordinating that supply chain to corner the market. It’s right now the meatless diet and is going to be a multi-billion dollar economy in five years, people are switching to …

Daryl Huff, Hawaii News Now:

So bring back plantation culture? That’s what it sounds like ― a big native crop as opposed to diversified agriculture in a lot of multiple crops feeding us?

Kym Pine, Honolulu Mayoral Candidate:

No. We can have multiple crops feeding us but you really need to talk to Native Hawaiians first who understand this land better and they believe agro-forestry is a better way to go.

For example, we are going to be coming out on the campaign side with a 10-by-10 plot where we can show people how to feed your families because I believe we are going to have supply chain problems for our food very soon. So I want to teach people how to be prepared to grow their own food.

Chad Blair, Honolulu Civil Beat:

I want to challenge you a little on this if I may. We’ve been hearing diversified agriculture, diversified economy for 40 years or more. And it just really hasn’t happened. I mean I support developing ulu. That would be a great crop but it’s just not enough to supplant particularly tourism as the main industry. Is that really realistic? It sounds pretty aspirational about setting up breadfruit farms and so forth.

Kym Pine, Honolulu Mayoral Candidate:

We are not gonna set up breadfruit farms and I’ll get to that later. And we are not going to replace tourism. What I’m saying as a leader, if you want to protect the people that you represent, to make sure they’re never hurting or half my constituents are out of job or on furlough or can’t pay their bills.

So when I say diversify the economy you have to make each section of your economy strong enough so that when one fails the whole world doesn’t end around you. And that’s what happened with tourism. And I know you say “people have tried.” I disagree with you, they haven’t tried. I’ve seen the power at the state Capitol and the City Council where you have these leaders and these huge hotels that tell these leaders, “No, you need to keep investing in tourism because this is the money.”

Imagine instead of giving $100 million they gave a couple years ago to promote where Hawaii is in the world, which I think everyone knows where Hawaii is now, if they gave a portion of that to these companies that are dedicated to ensuring that we have a stronger, more diversified economy. Imagine how successful we would be right now if back then that happened. But what happens is the legislature behind closed doors they just go for the easy buck and now we’re in a crisis because of it.

Stewart Yerton, Honolulu Civil Beat:

Aside from agriculture what would you do to create jobs? You mentioned jobs here, what would you do to create more jobs for local people on Oahu now?

Kym Pine, Honolulu Mayoral Candidate:

Well, there are several opportunities. I’ve been researching that we have not looked into. We, of course, have four military branches on one island, which is (something) you don’t have anywhere in the nation, this many military branches this close to each other.

What people don’t know is the shipyard, for example, does several hundred million dollars in contracts for it to repair ships, subs, different buildings. But they do these big contracts where only these big mainland or international companies can do it. If they broke up those contracts, say, for one sub we are going to get a contract for the plumbing then a local plumbing company can bid for that where they would have never been allowed to before, and there is a lot of these people not even getting bids because the project is so massive.

The other opportunity we have is with cybersecurity. We also have not taken advantage of this partnership where we are in the world, OK, so close to Asia, so close to America, right? Where we have the four branches of government we have a very strong FBI here and we can create a whole cybersecurity place here. Someone could do coding in New York for a company and then they do the rest of it and then those guys go to bed and they do the rest of it in Hawaii and then they can finish up in Korea. South Korea is really starting to look at us. They want to invest in Hawaii and no one is really promoting that relationship like we should.

Daryl Huff, Hawaii News Now:

So you want more foreign investment in Hawaii? Everybody’s complaining about the Chinese buying up real estate and foreign people buying up a lot of real estate. Are you wanting to attract foreign investment in Hawaii from Korea?

Kym Pine, Honolulu Mayoral Candidate:

I wouldn’t say more. I would just say you don’t have China anymore. So you have to replace with somebody. My idea of strengthening the economy is making sure everything is balanced so when you lose something you have an opportunity to replace it.

Chad Blair, Honolulu Civil Beat:

You know, losing tourism by the way, you were mentioning, it’s a quick buck. That’s what the Legislature looks at “let’s bring tourism back.” It’s a pretty big buck, too, isn’t it? We’re talking about a lot of money that affects not only hotels but restaurants and retail and that’s why we’re seeing perhaps the highest unemployment rate in the country right now. Shouldn’t we return to some form of tourism?

Kym Pine, Honolulu Mayoral Candidate:

Yes.

Chad Blair, Honolulu Civil Beat:

Because we rely so much on it?

Kym Pine, Honolulu Mayoral Candidate:

Yes, but the tourism from the 80′s. When I became economic development and tourism chair, I wanted to know are we really benefiting from this current type of tourism from this current type of economy?

So I enlisted Paul Brewbaker to help me crunch some numbers, and I said “I feel, and this is just my theory, that we have more people but we are getting less benefit,” and he said, “So Kim you’re right.” So in 1989 we found that we brought in $18 billion in tourism to state. Today we are bringing in $17 billion but today we have double the tourists.

Mahealani Richardson, Hawaii News Now:

Councilwoman, we wanted to move onto another other topic and, Chad, I know you had a question about police reform and the police commission.

Chad Blair, Honolulu Civil Beat:

Everyone around the country is talking about police reform. We saw protests in cities all over the world and right here in Honolulu. Civil Beat has reported extensively on problems with HPD, bad police officers doing bad things, mind you most cops we think are pretty good people. But how are you going to ensure to the public that they can have confidence that their police officers are doing the right thing and that they are not misbehaving?

Kym Pine, Honolulu Mayoral Candidate:

Well, you have to be as transparent as possible. What happened with Chief Kealoha there was no transparency at all. You have to have a very strong police commission that actually has the ability to do stuff and you have to change the procedures that allow them to have more power to do more investigations.

Chad Blair, Honolulu Civil Beat:

But you know we just lost two very strong police commissioners: Steve Levinson and …

Mahealani Richardson, Hawaii News Now:

Loretta Sheehan.

Chad Blair, Honolulu Civil Beat:

Loretta Sheehan. Thank you very much and the mayor quickly nominated two other people that will be considered by the council but you as mayor will be in charge of appointing that commission. Many people say it’s a weak commission. It really does not have strong oversight over HPD.

Kym Pine, Honolulu Mayoral Candidate:

That’s why we need to sit down with the two people that just left and say how can we make this better? How can we make this a real commission because I’m not for any commission that will allow a Chief Kealoha incident to ever happen again.

Daryl Huff, Hawaii News Now:

How is it that you could have prevented that as mayor? I mean, how would you compare what you would do in a Kealoha situation to what Mayor Caldwell did?

Kym Pine, Honolulu Mayoral Candidate:

I don’t really know if it was a mayor issue because the police commission does have a little more rights than the mayor.

Daryl Huff, Hawaii News Now:

This is exactly the debate. This is exactly the debate across the country right now. You see mayors in other cities firing their police chiefs, Because the police department in their mind was not being responsive in the call from the public, now you’re saying it’s not a mayor issue.

Kym Pine, Honolulu Mayoral Candidate:

No, what I’m saying, with Kirk Caldwell’s issue, you didn’t let me finish my sentence, with Kirk Caldwell he didn’t have the ability to hire or fire the police chief whereas the council we have advocated many times for the mayor to be accountable to the police chief hiring and firing because they would have to make sure that everything is a little bit more transparent.

Chad Blair, Honolulu Civil Beat:

So you would want the authority as mayor to fire the chief?

Kym Pine, Honolulu Mayoral Candidate:

Yes, and we talked about it during the whole Chief Kealoha issue at the council.

Mahealani Richardson, Hawaii News Now:

Councilwoman, do you think there is systemic racism in our justice system in Hawaii?

Kym Pine, Honolulu Mayoral Candidate:

I don’t know. I’m a half brown-half white woman and I can tell you that my dad here has been called an “f’n haole” and my mom has been called the “n” word right? So there is racism certainly all over the world. But if you want to find the least racism in the world, Hawaii is the place to do it.

My grandpa was the person, my haole grandpa, was the one who called my mom the “n” word when they first met, and who became his favorite grandchild, right? Love and diversity can end all racism and that is why Hawaii has the best shot to end racism and show the rest of the world how to do it.

Chad Blair, Honolulu Civil Beat:

To let you know in the Justice Department, not just the police department, Native Hawaiians, the indigenous people are heavily over represented in our jails and our prisons. Are you saying you really don’t know if there is systemic racism? How else do you explain having so many Hawaiians in jail?

Kym Pine, Honolulu Mayoral Candidate:

I don’t know. I think when … I’m not saying there isn’t or there is. I’m just saying there are different examples where there is some and examples where there’s not at all compared to the mainland.

I think when you look at who’s in jail we need to look at how they got there. Were they stealing food because they’re starving? I have a lot people people that I’ve mentored that have got in trouble just because they’re hungry so you have to fix the poverty side if that’s the case.

If they are … if their parents are drug addicts, like one of my friends who is running for office, he divorced his parents when he was 11 because his parents were drug addicts and he was starving and he had had enough. His friends later on went to prison.

So you have to look at the whole thing not just racism here, you have to look at the poverty level. You have to see what their family situations are and then in terms of the jail part you have to understand how did they get there? And then certainly if you can prove that someone from the same crime was not Native Hawaiian and someone that was Hawaiian and that the Native Hawaiian went to jail then yes I would say we have system ― we have evidence that there is racism in the system.

Mahealani Richardson, Hawaii News Now

Councilwoman, we’ve seen you in many conflicts with the mayor, many conflicts. If you are elected mayor, how well do you think you’d get along with Governor Ige?

Kym Pine, Honolulu Mayoral Candidate:

Oh, really well. I get along well with people who love the people and who make decisions best on listening to the people and I think the conflicts that occurred when the council would have certain hearings and the mayor would push things through even though, for example, Ala Moana, even though the public overwhelmingly said no he kept pushing things and pushing things and you don’t see Governor Ige doing that and I would be very excited to get along with the council members that are all my friends.

Colin Moore, Hawaii News Now Political Analyst:

What’s your plan with that? You’re very familiar with infighting in the council? Would you each take a different leadership philosophy or management philosophy as mayor than Mayor Caldwell has?

Kym Pine, Honolulu Mayoral Candidate:

I don’t think there is a lot of infighting, really when you look at it, we pass each others’ bills that make sense that have no conflicts. We each try to help each other. Certainly, sometimes, when another person was on the council there was a lot of conflict before but I think the women have showed we can have peace but still disagree.

I think it’s really important to respect the councilmember of the district. They are the closest to the people so for a mayor to be a good mayor you have to take the time to understand what the people need and want in each district and the council person should lead that conversation not the mayor.

Christina Jedra, Honolulu Civil Beat:

Councilwoman, you mentioned the CARES Act funds and the city has $387 million right now to give relief to working families. Do you think he’s allocating it in the right way?

Kym Pine, Honolulu Mayoral Candidate:

I think he’s doing the best he can. No one’s gone through training on anything like this so certainly he’s listening to a lot of advisers who I think are doing their best. But I think what I would have done is I would make sure half the money goes towards sustaining people’s ability to feed themselves, their ability to pay their rent, and a quarter should go toward keeping us safe, making sure we have cleanliness in the city making sure we have the contracts to clean the bathrooms and making sure we have social distancing to make sure we can deal with the pandemic.

But the rest of the quarter of the money should be for the new economies for resilience. There’s not a lot of money being proposed from the state government for the CARES Act or the city to grow these new economies and I think that should be a priority as well.

Daryl Huff, Hawaii News Now:

Can I follow up with that, though? One of the decisions, major decisions, that the mayor made was during the stay-home period when he was making the stay-home orders and he ordered the closure of all non-essential business, which meant many, many small businesses that only sold one product were basically forced out of business and right now we’re seeing those businesses may never come back to work. Meanwhile, big box stores ― Costcos ― they’re selling those same products those little stores had been selling before they were shut down. Was that fair and looking back do you think there is a better way they could have done that?

Kym Pine, Honolulu Mayoral Candidate:

This is one thing that I’ve worked on as councilwoman. Folks have all seen I’ve had a lot of these Zoom meetings with these small businesses and what we revealed was there was a lot of inequality, that there is a lot of misunderstandings of how businesses are run, and how they could have prevented from spreading the coronavirus, and that they were discriminated (against), actually. And so what I did was fight for these small businesses like the small hair salons, the small mom and pop salons and I said we need to change our philosophy of closure, instead a person should show or business should show how you have the ability to prevent the virus. It shouldn’t be based on the type of business or who the person is. And the sad thing is it was mostly local people who were hurt during this process.

Daryl Huff, Hawaii News Now:

When did you do that? I don’t remember hearing about that until very late in the process when things had already been closed for weeks and weeks. At the front end?

Kym Pine, Honolulu Mayoral Candidate:

Yeah, at the front end. We were helping a lot of people and it was just the amount of people that needed to be helped. I stopped my campaign, I had to. My staff was working 60-70 hour days in the city because the volume of people that just needed food. I had people that were dying, people that were scared, people were being told at the end of the governor’s eviction moratorium they were going to have to pay the whole thing that they didn’t pay. So there is a lot of things we are doing at the same time, and after seeing so many people in the same industry needing the same help that’s when we started putting people into groups and starting to lobby both the governor and the mayor.

Mahealani Richardson, Hawaii News Now:

Councilwoman, I wanted to ask you about the Mauna Kea movement. You have seen how it has sparked much conflict over projects in our community. What do you tell nervous developers who have followed the law and received government approval. And what do you tell police who must enforce the law, and Native Hawaiians who are willing to be arrested and put their health at risk for their cause?

Kym Pine, Honolulu Mayoral Candidate:

Well, I would tell that developer “did you really follow that law, did you really have open meetings and actually address the concerns of the people that attended?”

Mahealani Richardson, Hawaii News Now:

But it is government that gave them the seal of approval so what next?

Kym Pine, Honolulu Mayoral Candidate:

Despite huge opposition from Native Hawaiians, even back then saying this is their religion, how do you keep moving forward when you already have with what’s going on in the mauna that was already going on in all of those discussions and no one listened to them?

Mahealani Richardson, Hawaii News Now:

But as mayor you see the project conflicts now popping up on Oahu. How would you handle them?

Kym Pine, Honolulu Mayoral Candidate:

We would research to see if the process was fair, transparent and followed the law. Sherwood forest is a great example of conflict, We didn’t have to have (that). We could have fixed different parks across the street. Right away people said this a burial ground for our ancestors. That’s like the purest form of opposition. You could have and yet our government didn’t listen. They had multiple meetings saying “Please stop this before you even award it” and they just plowed right through and to me the developer is going to have to show they truly listened to the people.

Colin Moore, Hawaii News Now Political Analyst:

But this process is expensive. It takes time. It takes money. Doesn’t this also raise the cost of things like affordable housing and priorities that you’ve put for your campaign?

Kym Pine, Honolulu Mayoral Candidate:

But there’s so many other places you can build projects that don’t have conflict. Go find them.

Daryl Huff, Hawaii News Now:

Where are they?

Kym Pine, Honolulu Mayoral Candidate:

For which one, affordable housing?

Daryl Huff, Hawaii News Now:

You said there are so many places, where, Kahuku?

Kym Pine, Honolulu Mayoral Candidate:

This is where you have a government process where you start, and this is what I’m telling the people of Kailua right now for example, because for some reason they are all asking for help on both sides, people who want that affordable housing and people who don’t want that current project. That’s literally an apartment that will go in a residential zone.

So before you even build an affordable housing project and you think there might be conflict you need to gather community together and say “you want affordable housing and you don’t want it in certain places. Can we come together as a group as a Kailua neighborhood and say these are the areas we feel would be comfortable building in?”

That’s how you, that’s how government is good government, not government that just rams things down someone’s throat.

Colin Moore, Hawaii News Now Political Analyst:

But you know very well in politics there are times when you just can’t reach consensus, I mean as mayor how would you think through those decisions, because in many cases you’re the executive, you’ll be the one to decide?

Kym Pine, Honolulu Mayoral Candidate:

I believe you can always reach consensus. If you’re coming with a pure heart and really care about the issue and really care about the person talking to you. When we requested the mayor to put an affordable housing legislation together that will change forever how we build here he gave a package that literally would shut down all building because it required anyone with 10 units or more has to do affordable housing and even at some of the lowest levels in some cases.

Everyone said that bill could never be passed. My first meeting was in the mayor’s conference room. There’s over 100 people. There’s people on both sides yelling and screaming, advocates, OHA yelling at the developers calling them greedy, and developers saying when have you ever built anything affordable housing on oha land? And everyone said I couldn’t pass it, but it took me a year, it was a long process for a bill like that but at the end of the year no one was opposed to it.

And what I did purposefully was say “you’re going to be friends with him and you’re gonna talk with him and you’re not gonna yell at each other at these hearings anymore. We are going to meet every week if we have to so we can find a way to move forward because you all want the same thing.

Everybody wanted to make sure their kids had a place to live in Hawaii. I said, OK, you are united on that, let’s find a way to get there. I just have this disagreement that things cannot ever be done.

Christina Jedra, Honolulu Civil Beat:

So that bill was passed in 2018. It is now 2 years later. Are our problems solved or do we need to do more and if so what is that?

Kym Pine, Honolulu Mayoral Candidate:

We need to do more in the apartment zone and that’s why I work hard in the affordable apartment zone legislation, and we are working on the monster home legislation. I decided to sit down with these developers who everyone demonized and say why are you building an apartment next to grandma’s house. Can’t you just build it in the apartment zone? And they said “Well, no, because your building code for 20,000 square feet or less, which is what we are looking at, you can’t build an apartment.” You have it set back so far back you can’t even build a building so then we went to affordable housing with Marshall Hung because he and I were working on the same thing at the same time he said let’s come together and so we changed building codes in the apartment zone, and now I’ve been working with Twinkle for a long time and her team. A good friend who is an architect put together the Kauhale villages and so that’s the next model I think that we can complete to do thousands of units for as low as $15,000 to $20,000. We finally came up with a model that you can build that’s cost effective.

Christina Jedra, Honolulu Civil Beat:

I think what’s frustrating for people is that there have been so many efforts and so many millions of dollars put towards housing and homelessness solutions and you know the PIT (point-in-time) count just came out again for this year. We still have 4,400 people, working families are still struggling, are you the candidate that’s actually going to make a dent in that, that’s going to end homelessness on this island?

Kym Pine, Honolulu Mayoral Candidate:

I believe that we can. I’m the only candidate that’s worked in a homeless shelter. I understand how to solve homelessness, it’s a combination of housing, enough money for mental health issues and drug addiction. But the problem with solutions in the past is build these units at $400 a square feet and now it’s saying we can get a unit down to $15,000 to $20,000 for the whole thing.

Christina Jedra, Honolulu Civil Beat:

You mean tiny homes?

Kym Pine, Honolulu Mayoral Candidate:

Yes, for the minimum 400 a square foot or a little larger than that. It’s all about the price per square foot. We’ve wasted money and we went for building something without asking how many volume of people can we actually house.

Daryl Huff, Hawaii News Now:

You know, Kym, on that issue: In your platform you talk about spending a lot more money on drug and mental health treatment for the homeless in order to get the chronics off the street. But where does that money come from in a post-recession? We are heading into probably a couple years of recession, housing values will begin to fall, where do you get the money for that? Do you have a magic wand to take it from one part of the city to the other?

Kym Pine, Honolulu Mayoral Candidate:

No, but you have to understand that homelessness has cost all our departments a lot more than you think.

When we did an analysis of just this one man that called the ambulance like every other week, this one man cost us a million dollars. If we had housed that guy, spent some money just a little money, on a case worker that’s already helping a lot of people to help this person and get him the drugs that he needs where he has his only little tiny house we would have saved, I would say, $960,000 on that one guy. And that’s just one example, you have to look, OK how are we dealing with all our different problems? What is the cost for all these different issues? How do we make things more efficient and affordable so that we can help more people?

Stewart Yerton, Honolulu Civil Beat

One way to help more people would be to do what the hotel worker union wants and they say “well one job should be enough and for working people they shouldn’t have to work multiple jobs.” What would you think about raising a minimum wage to say $20 an hour for hospitality industry workers. Is that something you’d support?

Kym Pine, Honolulu Mayoral Candidate:

Some of them are making that much right now already. And this goes back to not being against tourism but back to the tourism of the 80′s, where one job was enough.

In the 80′s, we had a higher spending tourist. We had less tourists here, less people intruding on all of our parks and beaches. We as residents were paying half our infrastructure. Now we are paying almost double because we are not getting as much money, and the workers they got great health benefits. They got great sick leave and they also had great pay in comparison with inflation today.

Stewart Yerton, Honolulu Civil Beat

So how would you manage, assuming we get back up to a big number of tourists, how would you manage it in a way that was less intrusive on communities and beaches and parks and places that we go?

Kym Pine, Honolulu Mayoral Candidate:

I passed several different bills in the council that looks at just this, and one is getting a lot of the hotels to report their energy use and their use of their people that are on beaches, on parks, on our roads and we become a partner together to see how we can help minimize those things.

When Disney came on board in my district and I said “wait a second, you guys are going to take over the Leeward Coast” and we love our private spaces and our parks and beaches, can you do more on your property to keep your residents on your property? And they found a way to do that, they found a majority of their residents hardly left their property at all. So if you look at new developments of course we would encourage people “What can you do to keep people in your area and enjoying that space?”

Mahealani Richardson, Hawaii News Now:

(Overtalk) Councilwoman, sorry Daryl, what do you say to the owner of the vacation rental who says I want to become a permitted legal vacation rental and I need this vacation rental to supplement my income? Are you gonna be against me?

Kym Pine, Honolulu Mayoral Candidate:

I’m the only candidate that actually did something about vacation rentals that has been an elected official. No one has done that but me that’s running for mayor.

The hardest decision you’ll ever make because it’s one of those 50/50 issues. It’s why elected officials are never going to think with their ears because its a 50/50 issue. But for me it was about “What is the core values of Hawaii? Is this type of business ruining some of those core values?” and while I support some vacation rentals, it was getting so out of hand where a lot of families in Makaha were becoming homeless because it’s such a great place to have a vacation rental, it’s in the valley. You’re close to the beach, and people are becoming homeless.

So when you have a certain industry that’s actually taking away from your core values of “feeding people” and “housing people” and “respecting your culture” that’s when you have to draw the line, that’s when we allowed for some 1,700 and in the next couple months but its gotta be on a property that that person can monitor what’s going on there.

Colin Moore, Hawaii News Now political analyst

Councilwoman, would you support putting an extra tax on vacant investor units?

Kym Pine, Honolulu Mayoral Candidate:

I don’t know. I’ve been trying to study the economics of that and see if that’s something that would really benefit or hurt the economy so I haven’t come to a conclusion on that yet.

Daryl Huff, Hawaii News Now:

Can I get an answer on the question about managing the tourists?

You mentioned the Aulani, they kept their people on property. The fact is that we’ve had 10 million tourists last year. What do you think is a proper number and how do you change the mix of the tourists that are coming so that they are higher spending? Do you tax the industry?

That’s an area where there’s been no consensus, on taxing the hotel industry, so that the price of coming here goes up. How do you get to that higher spending tourist through the mechanisms you have access to as mayor?

Kym Pine, Honolulu Mayoral Candidate:

Well, what’s going to happen naturally first of all, this crisis is going to close down a lot of the smaller, cheaper hotels that are just not going to be able to have the volume of people to manage that.

Every tourist should pay for their own COVID test. That’s going to raise the cost of coming here. And what we found that people who are higher spending tourists also care a lot about their health and safety, making sure that we turn some of those hotels that will close into perhaps affordable housing right away, so it’s not bought out from another big company from the mainland, putting in the regulations that I helped pass the City Council where you have to follow all these environmental rules.

A hotel that doesn’t have that much of a profit, but does it by volume, they’re not gonna wanna do that kind of business here. But what you’re gonna see is you’re gonna attract the tourists that we’ve lost again by having these requirements because you’re on … go back to the tourism of the 80’s where they become that higher spending creator.

Daryl Huff, Hawaii News Now:

I’m sorry but I just don’t … I don’t quite understand the mechanism you’re suggesting. Are you suggesting that the city will condemn hotels and take them out of the mix?

Kym Pine, Honolulu Mayoral Candidate:

No.

Daryl Huff, Hawaii News Now:

Because the natural order economy is going to follow the money. It will continue to do that. How do you change the dynamic of the money, so you actually change the mix of tourists?

Kym Pine, Honolulu Mayoral Candidate:

No longer approve cheap hotels anymore, only approve the higher spending hotels that can show that they can manage their own tourism set. A smaller hotel is not gonna want to keep track of all these different rules to how do you manage your tourist better, how you keep them on your property, report it to the city, they’re not gonna wanna do that, they’re gonna say, I’m just gonna go Cancun, Mexico. It’s so much easier to do it there.

Daryl Huff, Hawaii News Now:

I’m sorry just be a little more specific about that. ‘Cause I don’t understand what you’re saying. Some guys got a little hotel with a lima bean pool, and what’s wrong with that? And what regulations would you put on him to put him out of business in that way?

Kym Pine, Honolulu Mayoral Candidate:

I don’t wanna put them out of business. I’m just saying that with this environment right now, you have a great opportunity to partner with hotels that want this type of economy is what I’m saying right now.

Everything is closing down, that smaller guy is not gonna be able to manage anything. He’s not gonna be able to pay his bills because he went for that larger volume. You add requirements where the tourist has to pay for their own COVID test, you put from the state side a tourist tax, a green tax, they’re not gonna want … those type of people are not gonna wanna come here, then naturally over time, the word is gonna spread throughout the world that this is the place for the higher spending tourists.

Mahealani Richardson, Hawaii News Now:

Let’s move on to the rail project that I know, Daryl, you wanted to jump in on that.

Daryl Huff, Hawaii News Now:

First up in your campaign material, you basically are accusing the system, the rail system of having lost many, many millions, billions of dollars to fraud and to kickbacks but looking for the words exactly, because I don’t wanna misquote you, but you basically are saying there’s money, crimes committed and associated with the rail project so far, no one has been convicted of any crime or charged with any crime and connected with a rail project, so is it responsible for you to accuse this already troubled project of being the site of crime when that hasn’t happened. Can you say who committed crimes and what were the crimes?

Kym Pine, Honolulu Mayoral Candidate:

Oh, I’m just saying with the federal government that they believe that crimes have taken place, and that’s why they’re investigating around.

I’ve talked to many former staffers who have been fired because they raised concerns that cost overruns were taking place that did not need to happen, that people are getting contracts that should not have gotten contracts, that there’s change orders that could have been prevented.

And people that are hired and paid a lot of money to prevent this kind of stuff were not stopping these types of things from happening, so when the federal government finally says, “oh, we found nothing” then I will start to say, “I guess we didn’t find anything.” But it’s my responsibility when I have HART staff calling me on a regular basis telling these things, OK to look into … and only the federal government can look into these things so they’re looking at all of these things. It is my responsibility.

If the only thing that I can do, since I can’t really oversee HART, the way that HART is built it’s its own entity and it’s gonna do whatever the heck it wants based on the law. The best thing I can do as a leader is to ensure that they are transparent and open and do the right thing with your money as much as possible.

Chad Blair, Honolulu Civil Beat:

Did I hear you say HART officials are actually calling you and saying, “There’s stuff going on”?

Kym Pine, Honolulu Mayoral Candidate:

No. Staff, HART staff.

Chad Blair, Honolulu Civil Beat:

HART staff.

Kym Pine, Honolulu Mayoral Candidate:

Those staff usually get fired right after that.

Chad Blair, Honolulu Civil Beat:

Are you then calling the federal government and saying …

Kym Pine, Honolulu Mayoral Candidate:

Whatever I have, I turn over to them.

Chad Blair, Honolulu Civil Beat:

Is there an example of something that you have that you could share with us now?

Kym Pine, Honolulu Mayoral Candidate:

There’s a lot of scared staffers that have left and they would like to live in Hawaii and have another job, and if they want to talk about it, they can, but obviously, they’re too scared. It’s my job to be their voice, it’s always been my job to be the voice of my constituents.

Christina Jedra, Honolulu Civil Beat:

Who do you blame for costs getting out of control?

Kym Pine, Honolulu Mayoral Candidate:

I think it’s HART and it’s the staff there, they were hired knowing …

Christina Jedra, Honolulu Civil Beat:

is there a particular leader though, that you hold accountable?

Kym Pine, Honolulu Mayoral Candidate:

Let me just tell you my theory, after studying this for a very long time and talking to HART staff at lower levels that are reporting to me, things going on, I believe the system is too big for a small town like us to do.

The temptation to make money on the side, the temptation just to look the other way for a change or a change order is too great, that we should have the federal government in partnership with us and the FBI, having people on the ground until we finish the project.

Christina Jedra, Honolulu Civil Beat:

How would that work with the FBI having oversight? That, I don’t think that’s their usual role.

Kym Pine, Honolulu Mayoral Candidate:

It’s not the … maybe not the FBI, but another person that works with the FBI, things have become so bad that you need to at least have someone on the ground there, or a group on the ground there to know that everyone is watching you, so you have to do everything the right way (the way a) regular contract would take place.

Christina Jedra, Honolulu Civil Beat:

Do you support dissolving HART and having it just be with the city?

Kym Pine, Honolulu Mayoral Candidate:

I would have supported that my first two years in the Council. It was bad timing when it was introduced at the council, just not too long ago, because we’re about to put a contract out, federal government, and it was unfortunate that the name HART was on all of those proposals.

Daryl Huff, Hawaii News Now:

Can I ask, looking forward, right now, HART is counting on having a consortium of companies come together and what they keep calling the P3, which is essentially a massive contract that would finish the rail system to Ala Moana and then operate it for 30 years, theoretically taking the risk out for the city. But it’s been pushed back.

What do you think should happen if that doesn’t happen, if it doesn’t come back the way they’re hoping. What’s your plan b?

Kym Pine, Honolulu Mayoral Candidate:

We’ll just have to start over. ‘Cause they have no plan b. They went all in with the P3.

Chad Blair, Honolulu Civil Beat:

Stopping at Middle Street is not an option for you.

Kym Pine, Honolulu Mayoral Candidate:

No, because it’s not going to even work. As someone who represents the district that would take it the most, why would they take something to Middle Street when they can just get a bus all the way to town? You’re gonna have to have 200 buses stopping there at the same time. How are you gonna even do that? You don’t have the room to do that.

Daryl Huff, Hawaii News Now:

You said you were supportive of this project, because of your district concerns, but you’ve also said you don’t wanna throw money at it. If you don’t know how the money is being spent, how do you interpret that? Does that mean that you would actually stop spending money on it for a time until the money situation is figured out?

Kym Pine, Honolulu Mayoral Candidate:

I think there’s gonna be a lot of new decisions that we’re gonna have to make. We don’t have the money right now, period, the new change that was negotiated by Colleen Hanabusa in the Legislature to rely on TAT tax is no longer a realistic revenue for us. So we have to re-evaluate, OK, so what do we do? Do we just take a pause? ‘Cause how do you get more money out of people that have no money, you’re gonna have to pause things at some point or roll out the bond for 30 years instead of these short-term bonds where the monthly payments would be a lot less.

Daryl Huff, Hawaii News Now:

So you’re willing to do that?

Kym Pine, Honolulu Mayoral Candidate:

I’m willing to have a discussion. You have to … when, you talk about the city taking bonds on things, you have to have a discussion on the current interest rate, you have to look to see if you even have the monthly payment to begin with, and in this environment there’s so many uncertain things that we won’t really know how COVID-19 has affected the economy until maybe November or December.

Colin Moore, Hawaii News Now Political Analyst:

Councilwoman, the hardest question in many ways is about the future of this city and a lot of my students don’t feel like they have a future here. They’re planning to leave for the mainland. What would you tell them? Why should they stay? Why should they stay with their families here as opposed to to leaving? How can they trust you to make a livable life for them in the city?

Kym Pine, Honolulu Mayoral Candidate:

Well as one of the youngest candidates that’s running, I’m fighting for my future and my daughter’s future too, and I can guarantee you if we implement a lot of the things like ensuring that we had enough affordable housing and ensuring that we would have a more diverse economy that we can feed ourselves, that they have a chance here to not lose hope.

Mahealani Richardson, Hawaii News Now:

Councilwoman, now, we wanted to change direction a little bit and we wanted to get to know a side of you that a lot of people don’t know. Can you describe one of the most difficult periods of your life and how did you lift yourself out of it? Just one.

Kym Pine, Honolulu Mayoral Candidate:

Just one? (laughs)

Mahealani Richardson, Hawaii News Now:

We’ve all got many. But pick one.

Kym Pine, Honolulu Mayoral Candidate:

I don’t know. I think my whole life has been tough and it’s been good. Just to be a woman in politics is very tough, there’s discrimination even today, constantly. And for me, it’s either I look a certain way or I’m not respected. And that is just an ongoing thing that’s gonna go on for hopefully, after this, we can prove that the first woman of color can be mayor of this city.

Mahealani Richardson, Hawaii News Now:

Can you give us a specific example? A particular story.

Kym Pine, Honolulu Mayoral Candidate:

When I was at the legislature, a particular elected official just wanted to touch my hair a lot, so that’s why I changed my hair, and a lot of things went on like that a lot, and so over time changed and so you just have to fight against it.

We talked about when I first tried out for baseball when I was a kid, the boys said if I return, they’re gonna beat me up, saying that I’m a girl and I shouldn’t be there. And I returned anyway and tried out, made the short stop position and was selected for the all-star team.

And I think the most important thing is you have to do it. Any type of thing where you feel that either you’re discriminated against or you were hurt or harmed in any way. The most important thing is you have to get up and try again tomorrow. There’s so many difficult things that people go through every day, and you have to just show and try. Show people that you can do it.

Mahealani Richardson, Hawaii News Now:

Kym, what’s your favorite song and why?

Kym Pine, Honolulu Mayoral Candidate:

Oh my gosh, it’s probably gonna be a Troll song, and I can’t think of any of them. My 5-year-old will be mad and say they’re all really good.

Mahealani Richardson, Hawaii News Now:

That’s really your favorite song?

Kym Pine, Honolulu Mayoral Candidate:

All of the Troll songs!

Daryl Huff, Hawaii News Now:

So everybody’s had times when they were associated with something that just didn’t work out, that this failed. Can you remember a time where you were involved with something that was just flat out failure, and you look back and say, well, what was my role in that work? Could I have been different?

Kym Pine, Honolulu Mayoral Candidate:

When I was with the Republican Party, it just didn’t fit so good with me.

Chad Blair, Honolulu Civil Beat:

I’m glad you brought out a party actually.

Kym Pine, Honolulu Mayoral Candidate:

I was like many others. That was a time when even Danny Inouye said the Democrat Party had lost their way. So a lot of people were “maybe if we had a new party, we’ll start over again.” And there’s great people in there. I met a woman, she was African-American, and she was Republican because of Abraham Lincoln was the party that freed the slaves. Another woman that said the Republican Party gave women the right to vote. And so there is just a lot of changes that occur nationally that started to come in to Hawaii that I didn’t feel like that was what my family did. My family were lifelong democrats. My grandma lived next to judge William Richardson, and so we were raised with those types of working family beliefs.

Colin Moore, Hawaii News Now Political Analyst:

When was the last time you changed your mind about something important, something that really mattered to you, maybe a governing philosophy or a policy position?

Kym Pine, Honolulu Mayoral Candidate:

Thinking that everything is OK at HART. I gave them the benefit of the doubt the first four years, and then when you start looking into things and you actually have workers talking to you about the problems, then you realize that you have to start doing something a little bit more serious.

And of course, that’s when we did the audit for the City Council. Very difficult, ’cause we were accused of being anti-rail. Me, a leeward elected official, being for an audit and got a lot of pressure on that. But I knew that we had to change course and we couldn’t look the other way, and we had to look at this project more seriously and how it was being run.

Christina Jedra, Honolulu Civil Beat:

What are you likely to fail at as mayor? is there a part of the job you already know is not your strong suit?

Kym Pine, Honolulu Mayoral Candidate:

Being a good wife. I’m not very good at making sure that I do all of the things that spouses do. But luckily, my husband is so awesome and he knows that that’s already my failure, as long as I show up when I was supposed to show up on the important things, it’s all that matters.

Mahealani Richardson, Hawaii News Now:

Chad, did you wanna ask a question about climate change?

Chad Blair, Honolulu Civil Beat:

Yes I did Mahea. If you think about it, I’ve talked so much about rail, we talked so much about tourism, all that stuff’s out the door if climate change continues to raise sea level here on Oahu in particular. You probably heard about that study a couple of years ago, saying it’s gonna cost us $20 billion because of coastal roadways and all the infrastructure and all the businesses all along the way there. What really can we do to get the conversation back to climate change? How important is that to you, if you become mayor.

Kym Pine, Honolulu Mayoral Candidate:

Well, it’s very important. That’s why I’m the first tourism economic development chair to demand the tourism industry be part of this conversation. Even though they’re our biggest industry and no one was putting any type of demand on them to do anything within their properties. But for me, the biggest thing that you can do is make sure every individual can take care of their own properties, change their own behaviors, making sure that they have less run-off.

Within the monster home legislation that you can’t build 100% concrete on your property anymore it’s the first of its kind so you have to leave, 25%, so that we can have or make sure that we don’t have all these chemicals going straight into the ocean, which was damaging our reefs and in ruining so many others things as well and poisoning our land.

There’s so many things what we’re trying to do in my district. At Ko Olina hotels, I said no more plastics and so they agreed, they’re doing no straws, the paper straws, they don’t do styrofoam. And so if you look at everything like what you said in the whole, it’s almost overwhelming. But if each business, each hotel does their part, uses as much renewable energy as they can, get off fossil fuels.

Chad Blair, Honolulu Civil Beat:

Let me throw something out to to you. I know about the plastics bill. I know you were very involved with that. What’s that really going to do to help the hotel in Waikiki that’s gonna be flooded over within just a matter of years. You really gotta look at maybe giving them some breaks on property taxes if they’re gonna start putting in, I don’t know, a new sea wall or to move back and so forth. This is a very huge deal. We’ve already talked about moving the rail line in further to be a lot …

Daryl Huff, Hawaii News Now:

If i can jump in. The house in Ewa Beach, right next to where you live, those houses along the ocean where the waves crash on top of the houses on a regular basis. What do you do there?

Kym Pine, Honolulu Mayoral Candidate:

Each business and each person took a risk when they built by the ocean and it shouldn’t be a person that decided to live on a hill to use their property taxes to fix those problems.

Chad Blair, Honolulu Civil Beat:

So let the ocean take ‘em then?

Kym Pine, Honolulu Mayoral Candidate:

That’s the choice that they made to live there. We’ve all been seeing the ocean recede. So everyone made their own choice to build closer to ocean because it’s beautiful and wonderful. And some people say, you know what, Chad, it was worth it. Fifteen years. Awesome. I got a home to move now, and so that’s where I disagree where government has to fix everything that is made by people’s individual choices.

Mahealani Richardson, Hawaii News Now:

But sometimes doesn’t government have to absorb the cost of the property? It becomes government’s problem if the road become unlivable.

Chad Blair, Honolulu Civil Beat:

Our roads are falling into the ocean.

Kym Pine, Honolulu Mayoral Candidate:

That’s where where our government should step in then. That’s our responsibility. But a private property is not our responsibility, and more than ever, we have to make sure that we use our resources and our tax per one that we do have on real issues that we are in charge of.

Stewart Yerton, Honolulu Civil Beat:

One of the big issues with the climate change is transportation, especially road transportation, is there anything that you would do to minimize the impact of road transportation in the carbon footprint of our thousands of cars that are driving on the road all the time?

Kym Pine, Honolulu Mayoral Candidate:

Well, as I said earlier, I’ve already passed legislation for the four-day work week for the city, already passed legislation that promotes telecommuting, and again, I was told that this can’t happen, but with COVID we can prove that we can make some slight adjustments where people can do things from home or come in less days but have the same amount of hours. Is someone who’s in traffic three to four hours a day before COVID … I have been very motivated to ensure that we reduce our carbon footprint and improve our quality of life.

Daryl Huff, Hawaii News Now:

Can I go back to something you said when we were talking about hotels and you’re talking about how — I don’t quite understand that policy still, but you mentioned the green tax, what does that mean? How do you apply that? And where does that money go? What kind of money are you talking about?

Kym Pine, Honolulu Mayoral Candidate:

So this one only the state can implement, a green tax and other Polynesian countries have done this. And so this green tax is to pay for the infrastructure of that tourist coming in that they’re gonna use and perhaps do damage to. For example, with this amount of tourism that we have now, so the lifeguards that we had in the 80s, the amount of them is just not what we need today. But we’re taking more money from local residents to pay for these new services and these roles that are getting pounded by double the tourists, and so that green tax will go to fix up streams, maybe fix parks and beaches, fix our coral, have park rangers, for example, where people are polluting. We got people at Laniakea Beach they’re sitting on turtles every day. Everyday our tourists are going over there and sitting on turtles for fun.

Colin Moore, Hawaii News Now Political Analyst:

So would that tax be for specific areas or would this be a tax on all tourists visiting the state?

Kym Pine, Honolulu Mayoral Candidate:

Every tourist coming in, yes.

Colin Moore, Hawaii News Now Political Analyst:

How much do you think it would be?

Kym Pine, Honolulu Mayoral Candidate:

I don’t know, but when we were trying to do it at the city for just a small $20, we projected we could raise $300 million. But then we were told by the lawyers that “you can’t do that at the city, it has to be at the state level.” And again, this is all about tourism management and now conservation management.

Chad Blair, Honolulu Civil Beat:

This kind of touches on your keep Hawaii Hawaii pledge, right? It sounds like folks sitting on turtles aren’t signing your pledge, I’m guessing.

Kym Pine, Honolulu Mayoral Candidate:

No, but you know what? When we went out there and talked to them and said help them to think through what they were doing, most of the people realized how wrong it was. What they were doing is just like no one talked to them about it. But if a tourist is coming in, you have to sign this pledge along with your agricultural form, they’re gonna think deeply, “this is a very special and sacred place that we’re coming to.” And again, going back to imagining tourism better, you have to promote where our core values are to the people that are coming to your home also.

Mahealani Richardson, Hawaii News Now:

Councilwoman, this is a very crowded field for mayor and the top candidates are all experienced. They’re well known. What sets you above the rest?

Kym Pine, Honolulu Mayoral Candidate:

Again, I’m the only person that can truly start this job on day one that has dealt with the COVID crisis as an elected official in the city. I know the things that we’ve already done that I think could be improved upon, and I know every department and all of the problems that they are having now. What happened 10 years ago in the city, I can tell you these departments are very different today. A lot of things have happened, cuts made in areas that have really damaged the department’s ability to perform, and no one has handled this crisis. No one has talked about forming new economies while we’re going through this at the same thing, other than tourism, right? And so I have the experience and the readiness to ensure that there’s very little transition when I start on day one.

Mahealani Richardson, Hawaii News Now:

How much risk are you willing to accept when tourism does re-open?

Kym Pine, Honolulu Mayoral Candidate:

Well, every tourist, I was the first to say this in March as an elected official, every tourist that comes in the only way for it to be successful, ’cause people are not gonna get on plane if they think the person next to them has COVID to begin with, and our locals are not going to accept tourists coming here if they think they’re bringing COVID here, so every tourist has to be tested.

My proposal and strategy dealing with tourism is any tourist does have COVID, we would help pay for their flight back home, if that’s what they want. ‘Cause change, you look at the opportunity cost right? One of my constituents had COVID and almost died, bills are almost a million dollars. So who’s gonna pay Queen’s hospital for this person from out of the country for this million dollars?

It’s cheaper to pay $1,000 to get on a private plane to go back home. There has to be constant ability to test them here as well as our local population. We should have places where, no matter who you are, where people can go to isolate, so some of these smaller hotels that are not gonna survive, we should partner with them to see if we can make those isolation areas before people are sent back home or for local residents who want to isolate from their families.

Colin Moore, Hawaii News Now Political Analyst:

Councilwoman, whoever wins this race will take office in the middle of the financial crisis and the cuts will certainly be inevitable. What part of the city budget are you willing to cut or would you look at cutting?

Kym Pine, Honolulu Mayoral Candidate:

Well, I was the only councilmember that cut a lot to begin with before the mayor did, we cut about $80 million and that philosophy was, nice to have projects were gone instantly, new budget items that didn’t assist with the core functions of the city, those were eliminated immediately. Capital for projects that weren’t core functions like the Blaisdell, more improvements to Ala Moana, Sherwood Forest and other areas of building that were not necessary, they were cut right away,

But I’m gonna be honest with you, I believe that we need to take a government bond with the federal government. I think the shortfall is gonna be so great that you won’t be able to efficiently cut things where the city will still function, you’re gonna have trash piling up everywhere, so the only other solution is to use our bond rating, which is almost perfect right now, and take out a large government bond knowing that this is gonna happen before other cities and states do it. I’ve asked the mayor and his budget director to look into this and they just think that we’re gonna be fine.

Colin Moore, Hawaii News Now Political Analyst:

Would you consider freezing or reducing wages for city employees?

Kym Pine, Honolulu Mayoral Candidate:

No, maybe reducing a little bit if we have to, but if we take out a government bond, we can ensure that we keep the economy going. So here’s the problem when you, if half the population already doesn’t have a job you’re depending on the people that has a job to keep helping the economy going.

Mahealani Richardson, Hawaii News Now:

Councilwoman, sorry to interrupt, but we are all here for our keiki, our children. And you mentioned your daughter. When you look at the next generation, what are the three words the next generation would use to describe you?

Kym Pine, Honolulu Mayoral Candidate:

Hopeful and hard working and caring about them.

Mahealani Richardson, Hawaii News Now:

Councilwoman Kym Pine, it’s been great to share this time with you. I think we all learned a lot from these last 60 minutes. Thank you so much for joining us and we wish you luck over the next few weeks and best wishes.

Kym Pine, Honolulu Mayoral Candidate:

Thank you so much. Thank you, everybody.

 

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