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’ll be publishing all five 60-minute interviews over the next week, 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 begins with Mufi Hannemann. 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 Mufi Hanneman, it’s so great to see you. Thanks for joining us and we just wanted to launch right into the questions. Why should voters trust you to lead Oahu out of this pandemic crisis?

Mufi Hannemann, Honolulu Mayoral Candidate:

You know, I’ve had a front row seat in the past several months, as the head of HLTA, a visitor industry organization that has been working side by side with our government officials to ensure that we can get us to a better place in dealing with this pandemic. Concentrating on hygiene standards, something we felt was very, very important, not only for our employees but for the people of Hawaii to have confidence that we’re ready, once the government says, “We will welcome travelers again.”

And in so doing, I was struck by a number of stories that I would hear from people, individuals who worry whether they’re gonna get their next paycheck, renters, who worried about their families not being able to live in their own homes, health insurance benefits set to expire soon, wondering how they’re gonna be able to take care of their families.

Businesses were being shuttered, and know that they’re not gonna be able to make ends meet to open up quickly and to start hiring back some of their employees because of the losses that have incurred while being shuttered, and at the same time, looking down the road, there are property taxes to be paid in August, costs that are escalating as a result of making sure that they’re all part of the new normal in going forward, whether it’s purchasing PPE equipment in all the extra technology that they’re gonna embrace now and going forward, but then as I try to do my best to help businesses that are shut, especially those who are offering food on a take-away basis, more often than not, I run into a homeless person or two, who tells me that they’re trying to get a job, but they can’t get a job. It’s been exacerbated by this situation, as I offer them food to share with their families, little stories like I feel so bad that I couldn’t even buy a graduation gift for my daughter, for my son.

Knowing all of these things has led me to believe that it’s time for someone of my background to enter the race again. “Why?” I’ve been a mayor, with all due respect for my worthy contenders for the position, and if you’re a legislator, you specialize in making laws, you don’t execute, you don’t implement, you don’t release funds for major projects. My other worthy competitors will come from a small business background, not from the non-profit world, from the community, they have no idea what it takes to run a city, with 10,000 employees, multi-billion dollar operating budget, 18 city departments across the day, because they’ve never held office at the city level, no experience.

So as I’m saying, this is no time for on-the-job training, you need someone to hit the ground running, and I’ve led two times of crisis, I was the mayor when we went through the 2008-2009 economic session. Things were difficult then. I had to cut the budget, I had to take away the nice-to-have and focus on the need-to-have. I had to make sure that the unions were in a good place in negotiating their furloughs and their pay cuts, something that the state had done through a top-down decision-making with ‘Furlough Fridays’, and I was able to do that without raising property taxes. That was the economic recession in 2008, 2009, and then I had that phenomenal sewage spill occur under my watch, not one million, not 10 million, 48 million gallons of raw sewage that spilled into the Ala Waicause I had no choice, but I used that with a leadership mantra I developed very early in my life, “Take every crisis and turn it into an opportunity.”

So what I did with that was not only fix the problem I had, make a commitment that no mayor would raid from the sewer fund, that’s been done in previous years. But also I settled two important disagreements with the city, one was with Sierra Club, they had a decades long lawsuit against the city. We resolved that. Secondly, the EPA had a consent decree on the city because we had been negligent in our care for the waste water system. I rolled up my sleeves, and negotiated consent decree that put us in a better place. And then in my second term as mayor, Pearl Harbor Naval Shipyard was on the brink of closing. I flew off to Washington, I sought that final vote proactively by working with Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid and a congressional delegation and their staffers acknowledged the key role that I played to keep Pearl Harbor Naval Shipyard open. So that’s my DNA, to be able to go into a job like the Mayor position again, and resolve situations in a crisis that we have never seen ever before.

Mahealani Richardson, Hawaii News Now:

Mufi, we wanted to delve into some of the tourism and business issues that you talk about, and Stewart, I know you had some questions on that.

Stewart Yerton, Honolulu Civil Beat:

Right, so you mentioned property taxes, would you give the property tax break to the hotels, given that many of them shut down for months now?

Mufi Hannemann, Honolulu Mayoral Candidate:

I will look at giving property tax breaks to everyone across the board, every business, not just hotels. I think that’s important. I was able to balance a budget in 2008-2009 without raising property taxes. I really believe, I think first things I would do is what I did when I was mayor back in 2004. I commissioned a private sector review, all volunteers, and I said to them to look at the budget, tell me what is it that you think that we’re spending unnecessarily on? And at the same time, maintain essential city services. I recognize that revenues have to come into the city, but this is where I come in again.

I’ve had a tremendous opportunity through the years to develop public-private partnerships, being able to draw upon the private sector to help us. I will chase every federal funding opportunity in Washington D.C. What I bring to the table is someone who not only has democratic relationships, but has Republican relationships, and I think that’s a major difference because your mayor has to do that.

So if it’s a Trump administration, if it’s applied in administration, I have relationships, and I will be able to go back there and see where are the opportunities to bring in revenue to the city. Having said that, if in fact that’s not enough, Yes, I won’t go to see how we can get property tax base because we have to get businesses going now, not later.

Stewart Yerton, Honolulu Civil Beat:

As we discuss some of the hotels or some of the biggest property tax payers in the city, it seems like it would be very difficult to give some of these a total break.

Mufi Hannemann, Honolulu Mayoral Candidate:

Well, that’s why I say: Let me get in there, let me start the dialogue, let me look at it, but it’s still a question in my mind, they shouldn’t be permitted or asked to give a full property tax payment this August.

Stewart Yerton, Honolulu Civil Beat:

On the other side, do you think you can really stand up to the industry given that you’re working for it now?

Mufi Hannemann, Honolulu Mayoral Candidate:

Well, I think that’s one of the advantages I bring into this race. I have long-standing relationships. When I did my health and safety standards, I had to deal with two unions and non-union hotels. That’s what I’m all about: collaboration. I will bring them to the table. We’ll talk it through, and I understand what they’re going through. Some of them are losing a million to a million and a half a day, trying to stay open.

Daryl Huff, Hawaii News Now:

Can I ask you now, so you’re not planning to give up the job with the lodging association? When will you give up that job and reassure the public that you’re going to be the mayor for everyone on the island, not just for the tourist industry?

Mufi Hannemann, Honolulu Mayoral Candidate:

When and if I get elected (laughs).

Daryl Huff, Hawaii News Now:

So you’re not going to give up the job until you’re elected?

Mufi Hannemann, Honolulu Mayoral Candidate:

Absolutely not. There’s no reason to. Once again, this is not my first rodeo. If a mayor gets elected in November, he has a month and a half to put together his cabinet, and I did a wonderful cabinet. A cabinet that came away with an 80% approval rating. I know how to do that. My commitment to the industry is to stay as long as I can because it’s important that the visitor industry to be able to come back. Let’s be clear. There’s no local economy if tourism doesn’t come back. $17 billion of revenues, $2 billion in taxes and it employs over 200,000 people, so it will be a smooth transition. I think of it like Josh Green, our esteemed lieutenant governor. He’s got two jobs. He’s a lieutenant governor and he’s a full-time physician, and that’s what I’m doing now. The full-time position is HLTA.

Daryl Huff tries to interject.

Mufi Hannemann, Honolulu Mayoral Candidate:

Hang on.

… And I’m campaigning to make the case to send somebody back to their old job because they know how to do that job.

Stewart Yerton, Honolulu Civil Beat:

But you’re not worried that people will think you have a special loyalty to that industry if you’re mayor?

Mufi Hannemann, Honolulu Mayoral Candidate:

Well, absolutely not, I think it’s an advantage. Why not have someone from the hospitality industry? It’s not just the hotel. Keep in mind, our organization, if you look at it, it’s a big tent. That’s why it’s no longer called the whole hotel association. It’s Hawaii Lodging and Tourism, so the attractions are part of it. Small businesses are a part of it. Airlines are part of it. A major stake with ground transportation. So this is being wholeheartedly endorsed by the board of HLTA for me to stay as long as I can to do the job with them, and then make that seamless transition. You see me right now, I’m not neglecting those responsibilities at all.

Chad Blair, Honolulu Civil Beat:

I just want it be clear, if you are elected mayor either in August or November, you’re going to leave the lodging and tourism …

Mufi Hannemann, Honolulu Mayoral Candidate:

Oh absolutely. I thought it was clear. You cannot hold two jobs.

Chad Blair, Honolulu Civil Beat:

Well Kirk Caldwell does. He serves on the board of Territorial Savings, and there’s been a lot of criticism, there’s been a bill to change that. As mayor, you would hold one job?

Mufi Hannemann, Honolulu Mayoral Candidate:

I would hold one job. That’s Kirk Caldwell. (laughs). I’m Mufi Hannemann.

Mahealani Richardson, Hawaii News Now:

Mufi, I want to know, you know, there are people, even those who have lost their jobs, but they are enjoying Waikiki without the tourists, and they know that tourism has to come back, but what do you say to those people who have really enjoyed this break that Hawaii has had?

Mufi Hannemann, Honolulu Mayoral Candidate:

I say to them, we have an opportunity now to re-brand Hawaii. I want a resilient tourism. I want a sustainable tourism industry. I’ve always been big about community-based engagement, and I think they need to be a part of how we re-brand Hawaii to make sure that whatever we have in Waikiki or another resort area is not exclusively for visitors. It’s also for our residents.

Let’s keep in mind, Mahealani, You’re not gonna have 10 million visitors come in overnight, it ain’t gonna happen. Airlines are now gonna be able to have 60% seating capacity to come here. It’s going to be more expensive because we’re gonna ask them to test before they come here. So I’ve said this in the 90s when I was the director of DBEDT and everyone is looking at it now, we want quality travelers here, not quantity. And I’m going to look to do more of the Hanauma Bay type of legislation I did as a council member in the mid-90s when the current mayor then wanted to charge you a fee for Hanauma Bay, but he wanted to put it into the general fund. I said nada. And I led the council’s resistance to that to say, Yes, it’s OK to have an impact fee, but make sure it goes back to a special fund that will be back for that bay, not only for visitors to enjoy, but for residents. So I’m very pleased that the council is looking at that, strengthening that, because that’s the kind of tourism that I want, including sitting at the table, which I am right now with the Native Hawaiian community. It is important that they be a part of the engagement process and I am prepared to do that.

Colin Moore, Hawaii News Now Political Analyst:

Whoever wins this race will take office in a time of a tremendous financial crisis, and you’ve talked about giving property tax abatements to the hotel industry—

Mufi Hannemann, Honolulu Mayoral Candidate:

Well, excuse me Colin, it’s not just the hotel industry. I’m talking about businesses.

Colin Moore, Hawaii News Now Political Analyst:

Sure.

Mufi Hannemann, Honolulu Mayoral Candidate:

I want to be clear.

Colin Moore, Hawaii News Now Political Analyst:

Sure, absolutely. But that means there will be less revenue for this.

Mufi Hannemann, Honolulu Mayoral Candidate:

Yes, absolutely.

Colin Moore, Hawaii News Now Political Analyst:

So what would you look at cutting because there’ll be money from the federal government, but some things will have to be cut, would it be city employee salaries? Would it be programs? What are you looking at?

Mufi Hannemann, Honolulu Mayoral Candidate:

I think everything’s on the table, everything’s on the table. Now keep in mind, I’m going to inherit a budget from this administration. He signs it into law in June, no different than when I became mayor the first time. I inherited Mayor Harris’ budget, but I always believe there’s fat in every budget. There’s nice-to-have versus need-to-have, so I will look to pair that down. I’m glad that the mayor now is no longer pursuing the Waimanalo district, Waimanalo park. Improvements there, Sherwood. I believe if there’s funding in the budget to do the Blaisdell I don’t think this is a time to do that. I will look to cut that.

I will also look at other measures that he’s put forward that I feel is all about legacy as opposed to doing what is important for the next mayor. So we’ll cut to the bone. I did that the first time around, I talked about a mayor’s review, the people from the community trying to help me identify where that fat, excuse me, it can be done. And then most importantly, look for additional revenues to be coming in. I’ve mentioned earlier about looking at public-private partnerships that can help us with some of these things as opposed to relying totally on government funding and then being able to go to Washington and also seek federal funding in this regard. There’s no question. Essential city services must be maintained.

It was according to, and if in fact there has to be salaries or pay cut reductions, I’m willing to do that first. I did that in 2008, 2009. We took a 5% pay cut across the board. Then I sat down with the unions and asked, look, let’s negotiate this. Let’s not do a top-down like the state did, and let’s see what you’re willing to put on the table.

I’ve had successful discussions with that in the past, I believe, if I explain that we cut to the bone and this is the only way to go, and we’re willing to lead by example so be it.

Daryl Huff, Hawaii News Now:

Can I get you to just circle back to finish off on the tourism angle? What is it that you could do to actually change this mix, so you have the quality high spending tourist versus the cheeseburger in paradise type folks? And specifically, when you’re talking about Hanauma Bay, the increase is like from $7.50 to $10. Would you see that premier attraction being worth, say $20, $30, $40 a day, and that sort of thing apply to other attractions as well?

Mufi Hannemann, Honolulu Mayoral Candidate:

Well, I think that should be a common place practice through all city attractions, not private. City attractions. And I believe that whether it’s $10, $15, $20, that has to be done in consultation with the council. I’ve always done a collaborative approach. That’s why as mayor, every bill that we vetoed never got overturned by the council because I engaged in that process up front. So it’s no different if we’re willing to look at other attractions, and I’d like to do that. When I talk about a sustainable or resilient tourism, I like to go after the illegal vacation rentals. I think they are causing some major problems in neighborhoods.

Daryl Huff, Hawaii News Now:

How big of a dent is that?

Mufi Hannemann, Honolulu Mayoral Candidate:

Well, that’s a big dent. I would say of 10 million visitors, 2 million could be a attributed to vacation rentals. And I want to be clear to my position there. I have no problem, I support vacation rentals in areas that are resort designated where they’re legally zoned, as long as they pay the TAT and the GET. And I think we need to rein in on that, I believe the county’s got a major opportunity during this crisis to really rein in on them because they made them illegal, but it’s still happening. They should have had a hotline. You know people can say it’s happening in your neighborhood illegally, if they’re flouting the quarantine laws, call 911, or call whatever number that is to be able to tap down. I think that will help with the quality-visitors argument, because then they’re competing with us where they should be designated.

Mahealani Richardson, Hawaii News Now:

Mufi, we wanted to move on to some of the issues over law enforcement and police.

Chad Blair, Honolulu Civil Beat:

You know what’s been going on with the country, the George Floyd killing, all the marches, Black Lives Matter here at home. Former Chief Louis Kealoha, his wife, or maybe ex by now, Katherine Kealoha, the prosecutor’s office. There’s a sense that we don’t have confidence at the Honolulu Police Department, and as mayor, of course, you’d be in charge of appointing commissioners. How would you restore trust in HPD so that folks could feel like the men and women in blue are doing their job right?

Mufi Hannemann, Honolulu Mayoral Candidate:

Well, it is a major priority of any mayor, public health and safety. When I was mayor, I made sure that was a priority, we funded it well, we approved pay raises for them ‘cause I felt it was important for law enforcement officials, ‘cause when you call 911 you wanna know where there’s police, firefighter, lifeguards, Emergency Medical Services personnel, can respond and respond efficiently and be able to do their job?

There’s no question now, there’s some changes that might have to be made, I like what Chief Ballard is doing, stepping up and offering some of those changes. I believe this is no different than the mayor’s review of the budget. I will conduct a mayor’s review, not just of the police commission, but all enforcement.

Chad Blair, Honolulu Civil Beat:

As a follow-up to that, the criticism of the police commission is that it’s too weak and that Chief Ballard has too much authority. You know Steve Levinson and Loretta Sheehan just left, where do you stand? Would you look at reforming the police commission?

Mufi Hannemann, Honolulu Mayoral Candidate:

That’s what I’m saying, this is an opportunity to look at the whole process, not just at the department, but also at the commission level, there’s been a lot of resignations that have taken place, so this is the perfect time with a new mayor coming in, because you don’t have to be encumbered by past positions. I can come in now having the experience of being there before, but most importantly, recognizing what’s going on in the country, having said that I’m doing something I don’t believe anyone else is doing, I’m beginning discussions right now with groups, in Hawaii, if we can call them ethnic minority groups who may be susceptible to the kind of things that we’ve seen in terms of not “giving a fair break” or “feeling discriminated,” whether it’s real or perception, and so I’m talking with Micronesian leaders, I’m talking about African-American leaders, I’m talking about Hispanic, who now come in and work on our macadamia nut plantations and then all the other immigrant groups that have been here for a long time. We can improve. I come from an immigrant family, and I still hear today from people of Polynesian ancestry.

Chad Blair, Honolulu Civil Beat:

Some of the concerns that many people have raised is there’s systemic racism in the police, the criminal justice system, even here in Hawaii.

Mufi Hannemann, Honolulu Mayoral Candidate:

Well, I wanna go back to what I heard, an 8-year-old Cub Scout in Waikiki, when with my Cub Scout troop and I laid eyes on the first president of United States that I’ve ever seen was President John Kennedy, and I’ll never forget the words of that day, he said something to the effect, “Hawaii shouldn’t be striving to the rest of the world, the world should be striving to what Hawaii is” something to that effect and I really believe we’ve been a paragon of virtue in the spirit of Aloha, and we also have to continue that, and it’s important for people to know that whether they come here and they’ve been here one year, one month or a lifetime, that they are entitled to all the rights and benefits of American citizens, and that’s what the Mayor does he opposed those laws so no one feels discriminated.

Christina Jedra, Honolulu Civil Beat:

You know right now, police officers are first responders to emergencies, but also to social issues like homelessness. Do you support calls from activists to reallocate funds from the police department to social service programs specifically designed to deal with people who are in crisis and might not need to be arrested?

Mufi Hannemann, Honolulu Mayoral Candidate:

Well, I think the whole budget is obviously up for review, but I think there’s other ways perhaps to help some of those social service issues. I mentioned federal funds, I really don’t …

Christina Jedra, Honolulu Civil Beat:

Not from the police department?

Mufi Hannemann, Honolulu Mayoral Candidate:

I wouldn’t automatically do that, but I’ll look at it, I’ll look to see whether in fact we can shift some funds, but at the end of the day, there’s many ways a creative mayor like myself that has been there to leverage additional funding or re-program areas, for example, in the Department of Community Services, which is the closest that comes to a Department of Health. They have federal grants that come there, they may be disseminated to various groups across the country.

I did that when I was mayor before, ‘cause I had a very efficient director of the Department of Community Services, every federal grant that the department received, we never lapsed any federal funds, and that’s what I would like to do, see what the Caldwell administration is committed to, and if in fact, they’re not gonna be able to utilize all of that, I’ll look to see how we can re-program some of those funding monies to these areas of social services that we should help the state with who has a primary responsibility for that, but together work to see how we can come up with a funding necessary.

Christina Jedra, Honolulu Civil Beat:

On that note with community services, during your previous time as mayor, your administration’s stance on homelessness was that it was really the state’s job and homelessness increased on the island during your tenure. Do you acknowledge today that homelessness is part of the mayor’s job description?

Mufi Hannemann, Honolulu Mayoral Candidate:

I think we answered this before with you but I’ll restate it again. Here was what it is, there’s a very different environment today, a county and the state are working together on resolving homelessness, that wasn’t the case in my time, unfortunately. We had to focus on cleaning up on Ala Moana Park, parks all the way to the Waianae Coast, I felt at that time, because we didn’t have a Department of Housing, let’s partner with the state.

Christina Jedra, Honolulu Civil Beat:

Tries to ask question.

Mufi Hannemann, Honolulu Mayoral Candidate:

Let me finish …

Christina Jedra, Honolulu Civil Beat:

With state leadership isn’t it the mayor’s job to step up and offer housing not just to the …

Mufi Hannemann, Honolulu Mayoral Candidate:

Let me set the the context again for you. OK, at that time, what I was trying to get the state to do, there was resistance, so we did a great job of cleaning the parks, but we weren’t able to meet the task of being able to relocate them to housing this time around, as I said, it’s very, very different. I’m gonna bring in new ideas and new ways to fund it with the Hawaii Lodging and Tourism Association, we raised over $2.7 million last year.

Most successful fundraising organization in the state, and we deal with homelessness, I took a million dollars of that funding, went to the state and asked them for matching funds, so now an organization that used to get $25,000, got $50,000. as a result of that, I plan to do the same, “Why?” because the state is cooperating. So that’s my point. We will take lessons learned from the past, but more importantly, new ideas that we bring to the table, and therefore be able to address homelessness from the housing perspective because the city now does housing.

Christina Jedra, Honolulu Civil Beat:

You mentioned the clearing out of Ala Moana Park, which happened in 2006; 200 homeless people including children were displaced without a place to go and homeless sweeps are now a daily occurrence under Mayor Kirk Caldwell’s administration. Is that something that you would continue, that practice of those sweeps?

Mufi Hannemann, Honolulu Mayoral Candidate:

Let me slightly correct, ’cause you weren’t here during that time, we actually gave them a place to go.

Christina Jedra, Honolulu Civil Beat:

The state created Next Step.

Mufi Hannemann, Honolulu Mayoral Candidate:

Hang on, hang on, slow your roll. We actually gave them a place to go when we took them out of Ala Moana Park, there’s a park area there next to the Honolulu Police Department we provided them a place to ago. They did not want to go. So it’s incorrect to say that we did not do that, we did do that.

Christina Jedra, Honolulu Civil Beat:

Wasn’t that offered after protests at Honolulu Hale?

Mufi Hannemann, Honolulu Mayoral Candidate:

No it wasn’t offered after protests. We had that in the mix, again, you weren’t here during that time.

Chad Blair, Honolulu Civil Beat:

I was here during that time. That was a temporary thing. By the way, it was at the police station, not the most comforting place for homeless people and their children, and I think the point that Christina ultimately is trying to make, the feeling was the sentiment. Your record seems to suggest that you said “homelessness was a state problem.” Well here’s what Linda Lingle did at the time, she set up the Next Step shelter in Kakaako, which by the way, was also supposed to be temporary and is still there, so while we appreciate the context, there’s this sense that you really did not take leadership on this, you shoved it to the state.

Mufi Hannemann, Honolulu Mayoral Candidate:

Again, we did not have a Housing Department at that time, you know that.

Chad Blair, Honolulu Civil Beat:

I do.

Mufi Hannemann, Honolulu Mayoral Candidate:

The ‘Ewa Villages’ scandal led voters to say abolish the Department of Housing, so I stayed in my lane; my lane was police and parks. We needed the state’s help what I’m saying now, fast forward to where we are today, there is a different spirit of cooperation that exists, and we’re working with them right now from HLTA, I mentioned the homeless matching funds, we’re bringing in the concept of repatriation, which the state did not want to do, and that is to be able to send homeless people back to the mainland, connect them with a loved one, we pay half the fare, they pay half the fare, and therefore be able to bring a new idea that should have been done years ago. So this is what I’m talking about. I really think you’re gonna see much more progress in that regard because the city and the state are working together, that did not happen the previous time.

Colin Moore, Hawaii News Now Political Analyst:

You mentioned working with the state. What’s your relationship like with Governor Ige? What’s your plan to work with the legislature on some of these larger issues?

Mufi Hannemann, Honolulu Mayoral Candidate:

I told Governor Ige I’m gonna be his best friend. He and I go a long way back to Pearl City and Aiea. We both started off, he was there before I was, and I really believe this. We have the governor, he’s gonna be there for two more years for all of those that say, get rid of him and me about like, You know what, he’s the governor, he’s an honest and decent man, he’s well intentioned. And he’s got two more years to go.

What I bring is a leadership style I exhibited as mayor. You never saw Mayor Kenoi out of Hawaii island, you never saw Mayor Carvallho on Kauai, you never saw Mayor Tevares on Maui go anywhere without Mayor Mufi. That is what is missing right now. I really believe. So if you look at this as the starting five of basketball, it’s the governor, four county mayors and a super sub, Dr. Josh Green. I really want to bring in that collaborative style of leadership that I had back then to the current state of mayors, and I know them very well, we endorse them as an HR organization. Mayor Victorino, Mayor Kawakami. I have known Mayor Kim for a long time. Should he be successful again? I believe that is what is needed now. And I give you a good example of this. The CARES Act funding, they came to Oahu first. and they got the lion share of that almost 380 million. I would not have released those funds as early as the present mayor did, if I knew the neighbor island mayors were still without their CARES Act.

Mahealani Richardson, Hawaii News Now:

Mufi in 2010, you said that there were two things that people hold against you, your Mormon faith and your Samoan background and that it has made it difficult to win elections. Why do you think people hold those two things against you?

Mufi Hannemann, Honolulu Mayoral Candidate:

Well, I think things have evolved. I think things have been different, I think they’re used to seeing Mufi. Everybody know what’s a Mufi. They may not always like the Mufi (laughter) but I’m there. I think things have evolved.

Mahealani Richardson, Hawaii News Now:

You know, your resume is deep and your name recognition obviously people know who you are, but many people have this visceral reaction to you. What can you say to make people change their minds about you?

Mufi Hannemann, Honolulu Mayoral Candidate:

Well, I’m saying this at this time, first of all, going back to your question, ‘cause I don’t think I had quite answered that. I stand by the beliefs and values that I’ve had growing up. But obviously, I’ve always been someone who has tried to do the right thing. And sometimes people are so quick to dismiss that. I’m hoping over time that’s evolved. And I understand there’s still a lot of concerns about rail, and I hope we get to that during the course of this interview. You know, I’m a person that’s driven by public service, I don’t say this lightly, but I’m giving up a salary that’s like this to go back to a job that’s like here. And the only reason why I’m doing that is I’m concerned about the people. If I were prepared to move to the mainland and be there and with my family and not look to Honolulu as the place of my birth, I would not be running for mayor. I would say, “Bye-bye, miss American pie” (singing) and jump on the plane.

But I’m gonna be here and I was taught by my parents, to whom much is given, much is required. And I feel if I have these skill sets in times of crisis, you need to step up. And so I would ask those who perhaps are, “Well, here goes Mufi again,” think of it this way. If this was normal times, this was the time of prosperity, take a chance on someone who’s never been a mayor before, because there’s time to learn the job as we go along.

But you’re talking about someone now who’s gonna step in in the worst, critical economic situation of our times. Take someone who’s been tested, take someone who is strong, take someone who’s collaborative to get us through this economic mess. My campaign mantra is this, if you put me back in my old job, I work very hard to put you back at yours. So I really believe it comes down to economics. It’s an economic crisis. If you believe that you’re gonna get your job next year or next month and you’re gonna be fully employed and pay all your bills, then don’t look at a Mufi Hannemann.

But if you believe you’re going to struggle, which we all are, and that’s every one saying that from economists from business folks, from labor folks, we are going to struggle. It’s gonna struggle into 2021, which is why you need someone of my ability and skill sets.

Daryl Huff, Hawaii News Now:

Picturing this as an economic crisis, but it’s also a public health crisis, and what I’m wondering about is: Do you feel like we’ve taken too long to reopen? Do you feel like the governor was too hesitant and maybe too quick to close the door to tourism? how do you feel about those decisions?

Mufi Hannemann, Honolulu Mayoral Candidate:

What I feel the time is now, we can open safely. You have both the lieutenant governor and the governor agreeing. It has to be some form of testing, they’re saying mandatory testing. That’s fine, that’s fine. Always saying how it’s open sooner rather than later, and don’t give us piecemeal announcements. The piecemeal was inter-island travel, but we still didn’t know when the next step was gonna take place, which is trans-Pac travel. That’s where the real dollars come in to stimulate the economy. So I believe if that happens, and it appears to be, in fact, they may be announcing it now as we’re taping. We’re really close to seeing that happen, and I think that will make everyone feel more at ease, not knowing, of course, how long it’s gonna take to come back or more important, at least it gives them a schedule. And business is all about planning and having the schedule.

Daryl Huff, Hawaii News Now:

Just as a follow-on: Were you satisfied in the front end, you mentioned the piecemeal announcements, but were you satisfied at the front end that the government wasn’t overreaching and like, for example, closing many, many small businesses that only had one product to sell, while Walmart and the big boxers were able to sell the same products remained open. Did they make good decisions at the front?

Mufi Hannemann, Honolulu Mayoral Candidate:

Ok so let me be clear, on the quarantine aspect of it, I think they were united and they made good decisions, but now we need to shift to the economic recovery phase, so let’s be clear, the rules that they were putting out were arbitrary. They didn’t seem to have any kind of pattern. In one county would say, “We’re gonna open this.” The other county would say “we’re gonna open this.” The state would oftentimes say, “No, it’s gonna be this way.” So people were confused, they didn’t know what was going on.

And so therefore, I believe, and I go back to that point, if it was consistent, it was unified and they gave us set schedules and deadlines, I think we’d be a better place today in terms of economic recovery, not seeing that that’s gonna solve how our problems economically but at least have business owners be able to schedule these things because there’s gonna be a tendency for people to feel that once travel is open, everybody is gonna go back to work, right? That’s not going to happen.

Stewart Yerton, Honolulu Civil Beat:

So, so what can happen? We know it’s gonna take a while for tourism to pick back up again, as we’ve discussed, what can you do to create jobs to fill the gap? We have 150,000 people, statewide, roughly, unemployed. Many of them here, what can you do as mayor to create jobs for the people who won’t be able to go back to tourism?

Mufi Hannemann, Honolulu Mayoral Candidate:

Well let me put it this way. I wanna save jobs, and the sooner that we can reopen, the more that I can work with business owners, not just hotel owners, small business owners to get them back on their feet, so if there’s ways for us in the city to help that, I believe we can.

So if someone is sending for a permit process for a permanent application and that’s been sort of put on hold and they need that to be able to install a new equipment for the new normal, I’d like to expedite that. I’d like to see if there’s incentives at the city, that’s why I talked about property taxes being there, it may not be a full-on waiver, it could be a deferral that we would look at and then manage wisely.

The other thing, too, is that you know whether there’s a Trump administration or Biden administration, there’ll be economic stimulus package, especially in the area of construction, there could be an opportunity there to be able to create new jobs in that area there. So I believe having someone like my background that’s done this before in economic recession, and be able to be very creative, look at what the private sector can be at the table, and then knowing that you have a mayor that’s not gonna waste money, that was one of the mantras of my administration. We were able to mind the money of the people very carefully and be able to balance our budget that resulted in tremendous opportunities.

Stewart Yerton, Honolulu Civil Beat:

But what about for the last question, for current jobs, increasing a minimum wage to say $20 an hour for Honolulu or for the tourism industry?

Mufi Hannemann, Honolulu Mayoral Candidate:

Can you say that again?

Stewart Yerton, Honolulu Civil Beat:

On minimum wage, would you support increasing or imposing a minimum wage of say, $20 an hour for the tourism industry, as you know, the union says one job should be enough. What about that?

Mufi Hannemann, Honolulu Mayoral Candidate:

Stew, we gotta be really clear here, OK, businesses are struggling to come back, they’ve gotten losses and you know that, you report it in this very well in Civil Beat. How can you now say to them as you open jobs, “We want you to increase the minimum wage.” That’s another expense.

So I believe as the economy gets better, absolutely it’s on the table, but let’s get the businesses back on their feet. Why in the world would you say to them right now that they have to increase their minimum. And the other thing, it’s not done at the city level, it’s a state issue, if the state says they wanna increase it, obviously you will have to figure out how we do that, but I would rather focus my efforts on trying to get businesses that have been closed, jobs that have been lost, people have been worried about where the next paycheck is gonna come, I wanna put them back to work, and I think that should be the emphasis at this point.

Colin Moore, Hawaii News Now Political Analyst:

Mufi, in almost every poll, the number one concern of Honolulu residents is affordable housing. What’s the first thing you would do to address that problem if you were elected?

Mufi Hannemann, Honolulu Mayoral Candidate:

Every affordable housing opportunity that’s before us, whether it’s in the Department of Planning and Permitting or elsewhere in the city department, I’m gonna say this is a “wartime effort now. We are in war. This is crisis.” All the rules and regulations that we would adhere to strictly. Or the conditions that we put on it in good times, let’s look to be a little more flexible, a little more creative, and if it’s on the table, let’s do it, especially if we had a opportunity with federal funds there or a private sector that’s willing to put in most of the money for these affordable housing projects.

I really believe the future of affordable housing is with rail, a transit-oriented development that will take place. Why that’s so important is because of the fact that along the TOD line, sitting right outside the studio, from Middle Street to downtown Chinatown, the state’s goal is 10,000 affordable housing units. And that’s the beauty of TOD, is that it would create that, and I think you’re gonna see a plethora of affordable housing that would occur as a result of Rail be run efficiently and also finding the right way to fund it going forward.

Mahealani Richardson, Hawaii News Now:

Mufi, you talk about transit-oriented development, but what about the people of West Oahu, if and when rail is finally complete, will people of West Oahu finally see relief in their commute?

Mufi Hannemann, Honolulu Mayoral Candidate:

I believe so, because you’re gonna give them options to deal with that traffic gridlock. Right now it’s the car, the bus or some kind of ride share.

Why not have Rail be part of an integrated multi-modal system, so when they get up in the morning, like other cities that have it, you have a choice. If you wanna take your car to a certain part, you park it, you take the rail, you get off it, if you wanna walk, you ride the bus, I think it’ll bring that kind of relief they need. I also wanna say real clearly now, this is a time to say it, “Rail has exploded in costs over the past 10 years that I’ve been out of office, I’m not into pointing fingers.”

All, I’m gonna say is this “As the guy who started it, I wanna go back and fix it, and I wanna make it clear. We will not finance Rail through tax payers’ dollars through real property taxes, the construction of rail would not be done that way.

I said that back in 2005, somehow now there’s an agreement from the city to put skin in the game, so they’ll have to fill some bonds, backed up by property taxes. Once that commitment is over, I will not use property taxes, I will use private sector dollars and federal funds, and if we get to a point where there’s not enough money, I will halt and pause the project and defer projects, I will not use property taxes to fund the construction of rail.

Daryl Huff, Hawaii News Now:

There seems to be a consensus out there, including rail critics and supporters, and some auditors that in your ambition to be governor back when rail was just getting underway, you misled the people about its purpose, understated the cost, you issued contracts prematurely and ultimately caused a lot of waste and overruns that. That’s what they say. How do you answer that?

Mufi Hannemann, Honolulu Mayoral Candidate:

Absolutely, look at the facts. Before we issued that first contract, there are three sets of approvals, number one, the federal procurement code had to be adhered. Check.

Federal Transit Administration also had to give it an OK. Check.

At the city and state level, we have to make sure we had the procurement code, so the former governor actually issued a lawsuit protest with the department of Attorney General’s at that time to review the contract as it was given out. The Attorney General’s Office turned it over to the State Procurement Office, and they dismissed all the charges. You can look it up, that release was done in August of 2010, so we did proceed legally, the cost did get out of control because of the numerous delays. So once again, I state “When I was there, we were on time, on budget, on schedule with all federal and state requirements to proceed.” Now, the cost went from $5 billion when I left to $9 billion, I was not there.

So that’s why I’m saying going forward, you need someone who’s going back there, sort through the mess and then figure out how do we get this thing done properly, because if we stop it now, if we tear it down, minimum $8.63 billion would have to be paid by the taxpayers, and that’s not even counting the litigation and lawsuits that would take place.

Daryl Huff, Hawaii News Now:

Let me just say you are in very many ways the “face” of the rail project.

Mufi Hannemann, Honolulu Mayoral Candidate:

Really this face here?

Daryl Huff, Hawaii News Now:

I’m afraid so, that’s the fact of the matter. But are you sitting here today and saying that you accept no responsibility for the condition of the project today?

Mufi Hannemann, Honolulu Mayoral Candidate:

No, no, no, Daryl you miss my point, I’m saying people will always question, and those things that could have been done better, what have you. But I wanna be clear, people voted for this in 2008. Fifty-three percent of the people voted for rail. Had they said at that point “no rail” who am I, even though the Obama administration wanted it, even though Senator Inouye particularly wanted it. Even though the legislature voted for the funding, even though the City Council approved it, of course, I would have said “no,” I abide by the will of the people, but they said “yes.”

I felt an obligation to get it to a good point before I did this transfer or the hand off to the next administration. So there’s been problems. I don’t think we need to go into why those problems happen, all I’m saying is, this is where it is at $9 billion. My job is to go and fix it, complete it, because it will bring tremendous benefits. Look at Aloha Stadium now, there’d be no talk of a new stadium were it not for rail. I want to be really clear of that, and that’s gonna be a public, private partnership. Look at the station outside of Pearl Harbor, they’re gonna have a military invest in that, so you’re gonna have a state of the TOD taking place right outside of Pearl Harbor. And you can say what you will about Kakaako, but it has increased property values, that’s brought in more property taxes into the city. “Why?”As mayor, I said, “I wanna see rail coming through.” Now going forward in terms of “Are there lessons learned?” I think what mayors have to do from here on out is everyone who’s gonna benefit along the TOD should be asked up front. “What are you prepared to pay for? How can you help the city’s treasury make this happen?” I don’t think that was asked as clearly and distinctly, when they did Kakaako ‘cause I left office. When we go down from Middle Street to Chinatown, I will ask that question.

Christina Jedra, Honolulu Civil Beat:

Mufi, a 2019 audit said that you were part of a pattern of officials pledging the rail would be cheaper and faster than was reasonably foreseeable at the time. How do you respond to people who say that’s evidence of dishonesty that in October 2009, you said the project was shovel ready? And it wasn’t?

Mufi Hannemann, Honolulu Mayoral Candidate:

It was shovel ready. If we weren’t held up with all these lawsuits, that’s what happened. We were delayed, and I mentioned that the challenge that was brought on by the city.

Christina Jedra, Honolulu Civil Beat:

But the audit suggests that the delays came from premature contracting.

Mufi Hannemann, Honolulu Mayoral Candidate:

No, it was not premature contracting. I go again and let me restate, we got all three folks on board that approved of it, two federal agencies and the state procurement office.

Christina Jedra, Honolulu Civil Beat:

Would you do it the same way again?

Mufi Hannemann, Honolulu Mayoral Candidate:

Well, if we were facing an economic recession, which is what we were facing at that time, so if you look at the bid that we put out, it was a good time to do that, and it was backed by the business community because we needed projects to get us going, and that was a perfect example of a construction project to go forward. Now, people weren’t ready for that. It was challenges. You have to live with it. So I’m saying, “I don’t wanna dwell on the past.” All I’m saying going forward is “It was legal.” Okay, nobody’s gone to jail as a result of those projects at that time. So let’s look at the positive aspect of getting rail on good footing.

Christina Jedra, Honolulu Civil Beat:

Even if it was legal, though, was it the right thing?

Mufi Hannemann, Honolulu Mayoral Candidate:

I believe it was the right thing to do if in fact, people were prepared to support it, but there were a lot of challenges and you know Jedra, I wanna be clear there’s gonna continue to be challenges until people actually ride like H-3. A lot of challenges, people think, “I’m in front of the tunnel not wanting this to happen.” But once it happened, you won’t find anybody saying, I’m going back in the past and saying “You know I was against that.”

They’re all saying, “This is the greatest thing since sliced bread.” And I really believe that’s gonna happen with rail. Once people ride, once they see the benefits, the conversation is gonna change, but you need a strong leader to go back and say, “You know what let’s do together” and I also wanna be clear that’s not gonna be my first priority going back. I’m the only one that’s come out with comprehensive five-point plan to get the city going, Health and safety first, bringing businesses back, making Honolulu a world-class city, minding the money, and secondly, and last, but not least, making sure that we keep Honolulu on a green and sustainable path. It’s detailed, it’s written to the point where people can understand the reason why my plan is believable, it’s because I have a track record of being able to get these things got in the past.

Mahealani Richardson, Hawaii News Now:

Mufi, you know you mentioned conflicts, and we have seen the Mauna Kea movement, even though it’s not a city issue, spark these conflicts in the community over projects that have been approved by government. So what do you say to those nervous developers who said, I have the green light from government and then the police who have to enforce the law and native Hawaiians who are willing to put their health at risk and be arrested for the causes?

Mufi Hannemann, Honolulu Mayoral Candidate:

So you said what do I say – developers or?

Mahealani Richardson, Hawaii News Now:

To each of those groups.

Mufi Hannemann, Honolulu Mayoral Candidate:

Well, first of all, the developers need to recognize that the community planning is a part of it, so I would like to investigate and look at every one of them. Was there enough community input? Was that community input ignored? What is this project actually going to do? Now, obviously, there’s some that I won’t be able to change because they’re going forward, and if they’re going forward, my feeling is that we have to continue to engage the community and your educational efforts should not stop as a result of the fact that it’s going forward.

The other thing I’m gonna insist upon is community benefits. No different when I was a council member and we faced this whole new world of big box retailers coming into town, and at that time it was Home Depot. People in Pearl City were nervous. What is this gonna do to the character of our community? And the administration then wanted to do guaranteed zoning for purchase. I said that was wrong. Let’s go back to the drawing board. That’s exactly what we did. We went back to square one. Made everybody bid again, Home Depot won out, but it was clear to Home Depot community benefits has to be a part of this.

I will do that with projects that already been approved. On the flip side, to whether they’re Native Hawaiian or other groups here. Once again, a mayor has to be at the table. A mayor leads by not sitting back and say, OK, my age, and consultants, you guys go and do the dirty work and let me know if there’s good news, I’m gonna be right up front. I’m gonna be sitting with you, I’m doing that right now. The members of the Native Hawaiian community, as we talk about tourism and how we’re gonna bring it back and my bet, my pledge is that you will be actively involved.

We need to listen to what you have to say because that’s important. This is Hawaii. This is our home. You can’t leave one person out because you’re saying, Oh, I’m gonna do this because of jobs, that’s not enough. you gotta hear what they have to say and see how you can incorporate that as you move on.

Mahealani Richardson, Hawaii News Now:

Mufi, can you describe one of the most difficult periods of your life and how did you lift yourself out of it?

Mufi Hannemann, Honolulu Mayoral Candidate:

It was the death of my mom and dad. I still feel that today. I lost my mom when I was 18 years old. I lost my dad when I was 46. And everything that I had, everything that I hope to be, is due to my parents. I struggle with that every day, especially on memorable occasions like Father’s Day and going to my father’s grave in Laie and knowing that my mom is not buried here. It makes me feel that I have a mission in life to follow what they taught, and that is to train up your child in the way that should go, and when they are old, they will not depart from it. But that’s the biggest challenge that I have.

Daryl Huff, Hawaii News Now:

You and I are maybe, we’re about the same age. And a lot of people say the Baby Boomer generation is responsible for many of the chronic problems we have in this country right now. I’ll give you a little bit of a moment. Take your time to listen to this.

You know we still have global warming, we haven’t addressed that. We have the problem of racism, we haven’t fully addressed that. These problems of society that are chronic. And now the young people who you just mentioned in your answer, have really overcome. They’re the ones that are driving the change. Do you sometimes think now, why is this not now the time to hand the reins to people of that generation?

Mufi Hannemann, Honolulu Mayoral Candidate:

I disagree. My whole life has been about mentoring. I have a wonderful program that I was fortunate and blessed that I’ve started called The Pacific century fellows.

You’ve had 17 classes of cohorts of individuals who have come in in their mid-20s to early 40s. They bond, they focus on solutions, they’re looking proactively of how we can deal with some of these problems, and they’ve done exceptionally well across the board. That is what I’m gonna continue to do. In my office, I, I have a very small staff. But the majority of them are millennials. My vice president is 32 years old.

I really believe that’s what leaders do, they prepare the next generation. So in my mind, who better, who better to advise us on the challenges and the priorities that they have going forward other than this millennial generation? I’ve done that, so it’s not you know just fancy phrases or commitment. You look at my DNA, it’s there.

I also started a group called hospitality young professional entrepreneurs, all young people involved in a travel industry. They also want to be able to be mentored. So my administration, you will see those folks involved. In my first cabinet, I had six former Pacific century fellows. They were in my administration or important positions, like the Department of Budget and Finance, the City Corporation Council, the Head of the Department of Community Services, the head of the Mayor’s Office of Culture and Arts. I will do that proactively. Why it’s believable is I’m doing it now, not waiting to become mayor and say, I need some young people, let me try to see who I can bring in to the office.

Colin Moore, Hawaii News Now Political Analyst:

Mufi, you’ve been a public figure for a long time. When was the last time you changed your mind about something important?

Mufi Hannemann, Honolulu Mayoral Candidate:

I think my position on the importance of making sure that people feel that their voices count. You know I’m a big guy. I can come across very strong and intimidating because it’s not often that you find a 6-foot-7 person who’s in politics in our community. And so I’ve tried to adapt the way I speak, the way that they know that I’m truly listening. And because I’m prone to make decisive decisions, I think I wanna do a better job of making sure that their voices were heard.

There’s always room for improvement. I said, during the course of this campaign, I made mistakes in the past. I think I’ve overcome my shortcomings, and with age, gray hair, comes wisdom. So that is what I like to do a better job of. You know, I’m gonna be tough decisions as the mayor and try to bring our economy back. People are not always gonna be happy, I wanna be very clear, you’re never gonna get 100% approval of everything that you want to do.

But I think it’s important on some of the things that Jedra has brought up that people understand that I was truly listening, I played by the books, and there’s no hanky panky going on. When I was mayor, I insisted that everyone in my cabinet go through ethics training, be able to comply with all the different types of discrimination in the workplace, violence in the workplace. We all had to do that from the mayor on down, and I don’t think people fully grasp how important I believe that’s part of the administration. So this is gonna be a part that I will work overtime into it ‘cause right now, more than ever, people are questioning their government, they’re doing it right here at home. some of them are saying wow the evidence is such we should open up. And then there those who say, no, no, no, no, don’t open up, spikes are occurring. So whoever comes down on that, once you make that decision, you gotta make sure that the side that disagrees with you understands why you did it and you’re fully transparent about it.

Mahealani Richardson, Hawaii News Now:

Mufi, you were the “singing mayor” back in the day. What’s your favorite song and why?

Mufi Hannemann, Honolulu Mayoral Candidate:

I think right now it is (singing), “Let me try again, let me try again. Think of all we had before. Let me try once more.”

Mahealani Richardson, Hawaii News Now:

Is that going to be a commercial?

Daryl Huff, Hawaii News Now:

Let me ask though, along those lines. You’re running for office. You’ve lost several times. Heartbreaking races, I’m sure for you, but not small margins, and you have the rail project hanging around your neck, you explained your position very well on that. And also you’re representing the hotel industry, which is not in great favor right now. So I just wonder, are you running also to sort of redeem your reputation to get back the loss you maybe felt before when you were in office?

Mufi Hannemann, Honolulu Mayoral Candidate:

Daryl that would not be a good reason to run. Gail still wonders, Why am I giving up all this? Increases in salary and the like, and taking care of my ohana because I’ve also had two older brothers and a sister that’s passed away. I’m doing it because of the people. Once again, if I was certain, the qualifications are excellent with everyone that’s running, but legislators make laws. Individuals who haven’t been in government, you have to question it. Are they ready for prime time? It’s gonna be a learning curve. So I’m running to put people back to work.

Now, let’s talk about the losses, keep in mind, I have won four or five county races. Four or five. I’m a moderate, I’m a centrist. I have a hard time in Democratic primaries that tend to vote very liberal. OK. And it is what it is. County races, I do well, including winning twice as mayor because Democrats, Republicans and Independents find my message very appealing. I’m running as an Independent. I’ve been an Independent for several years now, so to me, if they look strictly on qualifications, experience, never mind about the past, we have someone running who also lost three races. Three major races. So it is what it is. You look forward, and I believe at this time, right man, right time to move this city forward because we are in an economic crisis of proportions that we have never seen before.

Christina Jedra, Honolulu Civil Beat:

What would you say is your biggest regret from your previous time as mayor?

Mufi Hannemann, Honolulu Mayoral Candidate:

Maybe I should have stayed and finish the job as mayor. I get it. I get it from those who say, “If you hadn’t gone, I’d be riding the rail right now. If you hadn’t gone, the road would be in better shape. If you hadn’t gone and we’d be able to make progress on homelessness and so forth because you know how to read the private sector.” I get it, mea culpa, mea culpa, mea culpa. But I thought at that time I was making the right decision to take those executive skills that I had basically mastered at the county level to the state level. The people said, no. No way. I get it. So.

Mahealani Richardson, Hawaii News Now:

We wanted to move on to climate change and …

Mufi Hannemann, Honolulu Mayoral Candidate:

Can I just finish this one right here?

Mahealani Richardson, Hawaii News Now:

Go ahead.

Mufi Hannemann, Honolulu Mayoral Candidate:

So therefore, because this is an excellent question. Therefore, I think having gone through that, I wanna make it clear, these people think I’m gonna do the same in two years. OK, I’m here now. I’m here to bring this economy back and you can’t do it in two years. There’s no way. We’re gonna continue to struggle beyond two years of being in office. Thank you.

Mahealani Richardson, Hawaii News Now:

Go ahead, Chad.

Chad Blair, Honolulu Civil Beat:

You probably saw that report a couple of years ago, it’s gonna cost us $20 billion. Climate change, sea level rises are gonna knock out roads, infrastructure businesses, hotels. Talk about tough decisions. What are you gonna do about what really is the issue of our time?

Mufi Hannemann, Honolulu Mayoral Candidate:

Well, let’s take an advantage of being in the hospitality industry. All those hotels in Waikiki have proactive plans to deal with climate change. They’re doing it right now.

So you have the opportunity of someone who has a working relationship with them to continue to encourage them to put in that investment, no different than what the city needs to do. And I like what Josh Stanbro has done with the current Office of Climate Sustainability. I wanna take a closer look at that to see how in fact we can incorporate some of the things they are asking for because it will take money, no question, and businesses have to understand that some of the requirements are gonna require money, but here’s the other thing again, I bring to the table. I was a very active member of the U.S. Conference of Mayors. I was a steering committee member. There’s opportunities there in a national effort to call attention on Congress to provide more funding for climate change as we go forward, and we have a good basis of a start what Josh Stanbro put together with input from the community. I wanna build upon that and see how we can do this responsibly.

Chad Blair, Honolulu Civil Beat:

Hotels are projected to be underwater. Waikiki is projected to be flooded to the Ala Wai. The airport, Downtown Honolulu. That’s gonna be more than just money. You may have to actually move a lot of these facilities inland. How are you gonna lead that charge?

Mufi Hannemann, Honolulu Mayoral Candidate:

Well, that’s all part of the discussion. Right now I’m not an unknown to the owners. We’ve been having ongoing discussions because they’re frustrated like everyone else. They wanna put people back to work. So it’s not like when I call them, they’re gonna say, “Who are you? What you need?” you know it’s Mayor Mufi on the line. You have to pick up and they’ll have to see that this is a need to have, not a nice to have. But it’s not gonna be like an eviction notice, you gotta move now. It’s gonna be a phased approach, and if more needs to be done, we can’t just rely on the private sector to do that, it has to also come from government. No different than what we’re doing with Waikiki business improvement district. Some of the things that we’re doing along the shoreline there are working with WIA is a public private partnership. Private sector puts up money, but government also has to be ready to step up and provide funding.

Daryl Huff, Hawaii News Now:

Climate change also, we have many, many shoreline communities and many communities, you know Laie, places like that, those are not rich communities, and people are faced with losing their property. Even to this day Ewa Beach there’s waves that crash over houses you know down there. What about those folks who don’t have big resources for rebuilding or building up? How do you as a county mayor, how would you help them?

Mufi Hannemann, Honolulu Mayoral Candidate:

Well, I would look to the private landowners, you know Laie has a major landowner there. So it’s not just a hotel issue, if you will, but we’re all in this together. And if they wanna continue to be present in our islands, employ people, that’s part of the community benefits package it has to be incorporated, but I wanna be clear again, you should not voice all those expenses upon the county.

I don’t want the people to worry. They’re the last ones that should worry about that. That’s what government leaders do, they step up in times of crisis, and this is a crisis if we don’t take care of it now. So let’s take what has been done now and then be able to escalate it and I really believe it’s gonna be opportunities at the federal funding level to get more federal funding, especially if you argue from the fact that we are an Island, we’re very susceptible to this, and this is something that could be very helpful in making that case going forward, we need additional funding.

Daryl Huff, Hawaii News Now:

An individual property that’s getting overrun, what would you do for that person, an individual homeowner who owns his own property?

Mufi Hannemann, Honolulu Mayoral Candidate:

Well we’ll try to keep them there, and if they are in harm’s way, we obviously have to relocate them and I will do that. I will help them relocate in a compassionate way.

Mahealani Richardson, Hawaii News Now:

Mufi, you talk about mentoring and the next generation, and everyone at this table is here for our children, our keiki. What would be three words you would use or the next generation would use to describe you? Just three words.

Mufi Hannemann, Honolulu Mayoral Candidate:

Mufi loved us. Because decisions I’m making today, take rail. We’re not gonna see the full benefits of that. It’s all said and done. And they will reap the benefits of it. Or the infrastructure improvements that I’ve made at the city in the wake of that sewage spill. He thought about us. Every decision I make, Mahealani, I don’t think structure, I think two or three steps down the road, and I believe that will come to pass, ‘cause I don’t want them to remember me as the tallest mayor Honolulu’s ever had or the singing-est mayor Honolulu’s ever had. He actually did good by us.

Mahealani Richardson, Hawaii News Now:

Mufi Hannemann, thank you so much for your time and your insights.

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