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 continues with Rick Blangiardi. 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:

Rick Blangiardi, great to see you. Thank you for coming here.

Rick Blangiardi, Candidate for Honolulu Mayor:

Thanks, Mahea.

Mahealani Richardson, Hawaii News Now:

We wanted to jump right into the questions. Why should voters trust you to be the leader to lead us out of this pandemic crisis?

Rick Blangiardi, Candidate for Honolulu Mayor:

Well, you know, my entire body of work and my whole life has been about putting other people first ― starting with my family, my employees, various stakeholders. I don’t perceive, you know, my running for office as an individual experience. You have to have enough, I think, understanding and humility to realize that it takes a team. And I’ve been very good at selecting people, picking people, understanding decision-making, a lot of the transferable skills. So I would tell you that I think I bring a lot to this job.

Daryl Huff, Hawaii News Now:

You know, when you decided to run, the city was in great shape. The economy was booming. Now it’s in total crisis. It’s chaotic. As you’re coming in, in the middle of a crisis that is a threat for the health, safety and economy of this, of the city, what in your experience has prepared you to deal with a city in turmoil, and what is your plan?

Rick Blangiardi, Candidate for Honolulu Mayor:

That’s a good question, but let me just tell you, Daryl, I’m not so sure that the city was, that we were necessarily gangbusters. We had tourism, record-breaking numbers, we had low unemployment. All of that is true. Well, we had a lot of major issues involving, I saw a lot of crises if you wanted, homelessness and the rail. And quite honestly, a leadership crisis as far as decision-making. Now, what I perceive to be a real need, and the people who I love lived here. So that said, you know, I think that… What was the question again?

Daryl Huff, Hawaii News Now:

What the main thing is, looking forward, how do you… What has prepared you in your past experiences to come into a city in this kind of dire straits?

Rick Blangiardi, Candidate for Honolulu Mayor:

Yeah. Well, I don’t think, you know, anybody has ever been here before. I mean, I’m being real honest with you. I’ve been in different crises for different reasons, at different times, and so leadership during a crisis moment is different. But this is more so than anything we’ve ever experienced. So I think part of that is having that understanding, you know, and knowing that I’m not gonna revert back to an old playbook.

Like I said earlier, it’s gonna be decision-making, it’s the team of people we put around us and what we expect. I, very hopefully, finding the smartest thinkers and the smartest doers, but more than anything, people who embrace accountability. But I have no notions about my being the sole person. I’m asking for the responsibility to run the city, and this time on a going forward basis, but it’s gonna take a lot of talented men and women to do it. And so I think more than anything, that ability to collaborate, communicate, delegate, I think the kinds of skills that are gonna help us. It’s gonna really take a lot of people to make this happen.

Chad Blair, Honolulu Civil Beat:

Rick, I think I heard you say that with decision-making, you had some concerns about what has happened at Honolulu Hale. I assume you mean specifically the Caldwell administration. Where has he fallen short, where has he made a bad call that you would have done something differently?

Rick Blangiardi, Candidate for Honolulu Mayor:

Well, you know, I promised civility here, and one of the things I really liked about going for this job, Chad, is the fact that (Mayor Caldwell) is terming out. It’s a non-partisan race, he’s terming out, and all of us are up for it. Look, we’ve stuck with some situations in homelessness that I really felt that could have been done better. There have been other issues that I really, haven’t really been too pleased with, the whole rail thing has been somewhat of a debacle. I don’t know if I wanna put all of that on Caldwell, this administration, per se, because of the way HART’s been set up. But those are some things that have been very, very powerful in my mind from the standpoint of managing the city.

Colin Moore, Hawaii News Now Political Analyst:

Rick, if you had to say there was one big idea that you have for the city, one big idea voters could connect with your campaign, what would that be?

Rick Blangiardi, Candidate for Honolulu Mayor:

Well, I’m really convinced that we could do a lot more on homelessness. I think that’s a really important part of our community right now, and I come from that with pretty extensive work effort, if you will, over the last almost eight or 10 years. I remember sitting down with Governor Abercrombie, so that was well before even Governor Ige stepped in. So I think that compassionate disruption doesn’t work. I think that homelessness has become so pervasive in our neighborhoods, people now feel sheltered. They feel threatened by it. And so I really think we need to go back and look at the systemic issues of what causes homelessness. And the facility right now, just in this past epidemic, on Ahi… Ahiaki St., right here in Iwilei, even the ability to house homeless during the COVID crisis, people with symptoms, the relief that provides to the hospitals, etc. I just, I think that that’s something from the standpoint of who we are and what we could get done I really want to stay focused on.

Christina Jedra, Honolulu Civil Beat:

What would you do differently on homelessness that current and former leaders have not? Are you the candidate that’s going to end homelessness once and for all?

Rick Blangiardi, Candidate for Honolulu Mayor:

Well, ending homelessness is sort of the ideal. I’m not so sure. You know, I look at the point in time count, Christina, how they presented, and we seem to stay pretty constant. That’s because people were coming in and coming out. I think we can take a big bite out of the chronic homelessness. And that’s gonna take collaboration with the private sector, with the state, you know, with a lot of people. But it also speaks to the situation providing some relief for our hospitals and what the average cost is. 95% of the people that are homeless, they’re using the hospitals, they’re using the (emergency room), don’t need that. And there’s a lot of cost-benefit analysis to doing that.

So I really think that homelessness is something that, when you consider it from the standpoint of how I would look at it, is a scalable problem. Now that said, that’s dealing with our chronic homeless, and as I said earlier, other people coming in and out of homeless all the time, which is why it stays somewhat costly. Because there’s been a lot of progress made, if you talk to the homeless service providers and what they were able to do. And don’t, even going back to when we broke up the park at Kakaako. But I’m really worried about the amount of homeless people we may see on a going forward basis, and for that, I don’t have an answer right now. And that is something that, look, we’re six months out from getting into the office. There’s so much that can happen. If I stop and think, it’s three months to the day that we had to shut down, on how much has happened in 90 days as I’ve gone on this learning curve to run for office, and how much we’re all witnessing and experiencing all the unknowns in uncertainty. I worry about what’s to come.

Stewart Yerton, Honolulu Civil Beat:

Rick, you just mentioned you’ve been looking at homeless issues for eight to 10 years…

Rick Blangiardi, Candidate for Honolulu Mayor:

Yes.

Stewart Yerton, Honolulu Civil Beat:

Setting aside what’s coming in the next few months, possibly with a lot of unemployment, a lot of unemployment and people running out of some federal money that’s drying up. Set that aside, eight to 10 years, based on that experience that you’ve had, what would you do?

Rick Blangiardi, Candidate for Honolulu Mayor:

Compassionate disruption has run its course, so we need to really treat these people. I’ve been a strong believer in it. Sit-lie bans are a catalyst to putting people in, and we need to get the institutions set up. So we’re already seeing some success in Iwilei. It’s only been two months in operation. And we’re getting some success over in Kaneohe, but we need more of those kind of community service places. People need a place to go, okay? And so we’re gonna have to really make sure that we do that and provide the necessary resources. That’s gonna take a re-prioritization, and at a time right now where we’re not even sure where we’ll be budget-wise, that’s one of the first things we’re gonna take a look at. I mean, the first thing will be, I talked to Christina before, a couple of weeks ago, about the budget, which just got approved, the 2.9 and is less money. And you know what’s that gonna look like? I don’t know what it’s gonna look like in six months.

You know, they keep saying August is gonna be the big month, and they’ll be able to tell and what they may or may not do not on my watch. But we go in there, and I said this, the opening day when I announced I was gonna run for mayor, it’s something I’ve done throughout my career. It’s where you spend your money and how you set your priorities, and so homelessness will be a priority, and we’ll actually do something about that. And we may have to reallocate dollars. I’m just a little bit concerned about how much of a free fall we’re gonna be in with the loss of tax revenue, which looks to be substantial.

Colin Moore, Hawaii News Now Political Analyst:

What would you look at cutting, then, assuming there is a major loss?

Rick Blangiardi, Candidate for Honolulu Mayor:

You know, I think Colin, right now it’s really hard to say. But one of the first things I’m gonna look at is the waste, okay? And I haven’t, and I’m not… I haven’t looked at that budget yet, to be honest with you. I’m waiting, hopefully win the primary, you know, and I think we’ll start to build. If we get by that, to really think in terms of where we have budget-wise, also at that point too we’ll start to see how our city reacts to August and what gets left. So that would be the first sort of business, is to really kind of take a look at what are the numbers we’re dealing with. This is, in any endeavor, that’s the situation. And so we deal with that reality. And then you go from there.

Mahealani Richardson, Hawaii News Now:

What specific program, though, do you view as being wasteful?

Rick Blangiardi, Candidate for Honolulu Mayor:

I don’t have a specific program right now that I would say is wasteful, but I would tell you that if I had … Many times people said to me, ‘you’re gonna be amazed at the amount of waste in there.’ I wanna go back in there and I wanna look at that. So again, I’m not trying to talk about something I don’t know for certain, but I just know that that exists.

Stewart Yerton, Honolulu Civil Beat:

In terms of tax revenues, one of the things that hotels are saying is they’ve not been able to operate …

Rick Blangiardi, Candidate for Honolulu Mayor:

Right.

Stewart Yerton, Honolulu Civil Beat:

… for months. And they’re saying, ‘we really need a property tax break.’ Would you just, not just pushing it back, but a break, would you give that to hotels?

Rick Blangiardi, Candidate for Honolulu Mayor:

You know, that’s a big question, right? Because there’s a big difference between saying they wanna defer their taxes inevitably, or whether or not it is, I think the mayor has done, given them a four-month term. Right? That’s a big forgiveness, because if we were to say no, you don’t pay property taxes, then I think that actually got raised and it got killed. I’m not in favor of doing that. These are big, multi-international hotels have been here. They’re really working in an extractive business and have been for a long time. And while they serve Hawaii well, you know, there’s a lot more I believe they could go back to doing in the community. I said yes, today, publicly, that I would go back to the hotels and negotiate with them. I actually want them to make a bigger contribution, and if anybody was ― I’m not gonna raise property taxes for residents, but if there’s anybody we would look at to a form of revenue, it would be the hotels.

Daryl Huff, Hawaii News Now:

Do you feel by doing that you can increase the cost of coming to Hawaii for guests? Because a lot of people have talked about, ‘Oh, we wanna reduce the number of tourists who are here, we want them to spend more money.’ Do you do that by basically making it more expensive to be a tourist?

Rick Blangiardi, Candidate for Honolulu Mayor:

Look, we’re about to re-calibrate tourism in a way that we’ve never seen before, and it’s gonna happen almost on a natural basis. All the experts and people I talk to right now say, maybe, maybe starting August 1 through the end of the year, we’ll see a million visitors, maybe. We’re still not sure. We’re getting breakouts that are on the rise on the mainland, we don’t know about the willingness of people to travel, even with a test available to them, we’ll see.

But let’s say we got a million visitors, let’s say we do that. And this year’s number that we’re committed around three million, but do the math on the next five months, okay? You get a million, is like it’s just for simple math purposes, 200,000 people a month. Divide that by 30, you tap in to 6- to 7,000 people a day coming in here, I’m sorry. Think about that compared to the 30,000 we had before, and what’s that gonna look like, you know in our hotels. How many rooms, who’s even open up for hotel. We’ve already lost 25% of our restaurants, with another 25% or so hanging in the balance. That’s 750 or 1500 restaurants. So I’m not interested in, necessarily … There’s a possibility here for a different clientele going forward, ‘cause if you do the projections, you learned over the next couple of years, then I think that it’s gonna require different clientele.

But I’m on record, I’ve said in (Civil Beat), we’ve been wholesaling to the masses for a long time. It has been the almighty dollar, how many planes can fly here, how many seats are in here, and how many rooms and nights can we fill at the expense, I think quite honestly, of even the visitor experience, but also especially to our residents. We’ve subordinated our residents in pursuit of that money. So I’m not worried about the margins of these big hotels. I am not worried about that.

Steward Yerton, Honolulu Civil Beat:

What about a higher wage, higher minimum wage for hotels and the hospitality industry?

Rick Blangiardi, Candidate for Honolulu Mayor:

Well, you know, they’re already considerably above the minimum wage level, okay? And I’m really dismayed at the lack of progress we’ve been able to make, but I understand it now, especially having been in this role here because I was a strong advocate for raising the minimum wage, getting people to $15, even $17 an hour. But if you really begin to look at it and think about the impact locally, and the backbone of our community, which is our small businesses, many them can’t really do that. So to me, the alternative is we need to start creating affordable rental units and build to price, because we’re not gonna be able to bring the salary up to that. We have to really do that. That, along with when I talk about homelessness, all of that stuff works hand in glove on affordable rental units in the urban core. I believe that there’s spaces to do it, I know that developers wanna do that. There’s a lot of smart minds.

This is gonna be a lot of collaboration. You asked me earlier about what I bring, it’s gonna take that kind of business thinking, in that kind of collaboration and communication. I really think we can do that. We are in a different place here, in a mindset, because of the impact, and we haven’t even begun to feel it yet the way we’re going to feel it, okay? And so I think there’s a chance to do some things that maybe 20, 10 years ago, even 30 years ago, people would have thought, can’t happen. Won’t happen, for all the other reasons. This is what this kind of situation brings about, this is the opportunity, if you will, the silver lining coming out of this crisis, to do the things we need to do. And re-calibrating tourism is one, building affordable rentals, because we absolutely have to, is another.

Christina Jedra, Honolulu Civil Beat:

Rick, you mentioned that you haven’t read the city budget that just was signed by Mayor Caldwell. So why should voters trust you to run the city if you’re not familiar with the city’s finance?

Rick Blangiardi, Candidate for Honolulu Mayor:

Because it’s a budget. I’ve done budgets … We’ve worked with budgets a long time, and I will tell you honestly, I plan to surround myself with some really good people. I’ll say that over and over again ― budgets are just a matter of zeros. I’ve worked with much bigger budgets than I ever have here. When I came to Hawaii, that was the first thing I had to do, was re-calibrate my thinking. I was in places where $50 million was a rounding error, and here $50 million was the whole market. So it’s that, it’s really what’s behind the budget and the people and what we’re gonna have.

Again, I don’t know what they’re gonna do, I have no idea what kind of cuts they might make. All this talk going on right now, just on the pay raises that were negotiated months if not years ago, and what’s gonna happen there if they’re gonna put a moratorium on that and what the fallout’s gonna be, and so on. So I, I bring, um, I bring a track record of being the guy who was always hired to replace the person was fired, and said, “Fix it.”

Mahealani Richardson, Hawaii News Now:

Rick, you mentioned picking the right members of the team.

Rick Blangiardi, Candidate for Honolulu Mayor:

Yes.

Mahealani Richardson, Hawaii News Now:

Picking the right people, surrounding yourself with the right people, who would you pick as members of your Cabinet, your department heads?

Rick Blangiardi, Candidate for Honolulu Mayor:

I don’t know that yet Mahea, I don’t. And I will tell you, that’s one of the things ― I wanna try to get by the primary, you know. I wanna also be, in all fairness, evaluate who’s in there.

Mahealani Richardson, Hawaii News Now:

But shouldn’t you be having these conversations with people already? And these people would be informing your decisions and guiding …

Rick Blangiardi, Candidate for Honolulu Mayor:

Well, I’ll be honest with you, I would like to have done that, because my notion of what was gonna happen in a political campaign and what the reality of COVID brought, those two concepts, social distancing and campaigning, could not have been any more antithetical. And I’ve only now just started to get out and meet people. Look at this, I’m actually talking to six people, compared to another Zoom call, okay? So I haven’t gotten there yet. I’ve only had two or three meetings with real people. Everything has been via Zoom.

Daryl Huff, Hawaii News Now:

In general, though, would you look to the private sector more than people who’ve already been in government?

Rick Blangiardi, Candidate for Honolulu Mayor:

Depends. It depends on who comes out, I think, if we get out, if I’m … If I’m out there and we’re saying we, I think … Look, I know there are a lot of really smart, talented people here, and I really wanna take some pride and be able to recruit those people. My biggest concern is their pay, and in some cases, if they’re gonna be leaving private sector jobs. But with so much at stake for Hawaii, I really think there are a lot of good people, a lot of really smart young people who wanna stay here, fight here, who have a lot to offer. And I think I actually changed the trajectory of local politics by being the person I am, not only as an individual and how I operate, but what I represent in the equation on a going forward basis. That’s what’s at stake right now. Hawaii’s future is at stake in a very different way.

Colin Moore, Hawaii News Now Political Analyst:

Rick, if you’re elected, you’ll also have to deal with the City Council, and you know the council has a long history of infighting. Five open seats. What’s your philosophy there? Can you work with the council on the same page?

Rick Blangiardi, Candidate for Honolulu Mayor:

Well, you just said it Colin. Five empty seats. Five new people coming in. What a great opportunity to start building a shared mindset and drop the politics of old, if you will. I don’t wanna sound naïve. I’ve operated always with people who will disagree with me all the time, but you work really hard to build consensus, in this particular case, for the greater good. If we see an exodus out of here next year as a university is projecting, of 25,000 to 35,000 people, and while I’ve actually heard some cynical people say, “That’s okay, just like the tourists, we didn’t need ‘em.” I don’t come from that place. I used to live here for a long time, moved away. I knew the pain of what it feels like to leave here involuntarily, although I left on a voluntary basis, but to have left Hawaii and wanted to come back, so my attitude about that is precisely that.

Chad Blair, Honolulu Civil Beat:

One of the biggest, maybe the single biggest criticism, is coming from Colleen Hanabusa, Mufi Hannemann, Kym Pine… All of them have served in office or are serving.

Rick Blangiardi, Candidate for Honolulu Mayor:

Yeah.

Chad Blair, Honolulu Civil Beat:

And you can’t just come from the business world. You’re gonna need training wheels. Keith Amemiya, the other top candidate as well, has a business background. You gotta respond to that.

Rick Blangiardi, Candidate for Honolulu Mayor:

Sure, I’ll respond.

Chad Blair, Honolulu Civil Beat:

They say you’re not gonna be up to the job.

Rick Blangiardi, Candidate for Honolulu Mayor:

I would respond to that right now, because I’ve heard, I actually heard one of them say the other night in a forum that this isn’t business, it’s government. Okay. And that, to me, just really, like, that’s exactly why I decided to do this, okay? Because somehow that’s some sort of inner, secret world? Look. The mayor is the CEO of the city. It is about managing. Managing people, decision-making. I’m gonna say it again, having the right people, understanding what it takes to get things done. This is not some inner secret club, whatever, because we’re not in that place.

Daryl Huff, Hawaii News Now:

That’s exactly … I mean I kind of agree with you. People should look at government more like a business. However, government is a very unique from a business in that you’ve got a unionized workforce that is unionized all the way up past the supervisor level. And then you’ve got the most incredible procurement bureaucracy, environmental laws. I’m just wondering, do you have the patience, as a person who’s always been a fast-mover, do you have the patience to go butt your head up against that bureaucracy?

Rick Blangiardi, Candidate for Honolulu Mayor:

Well, we’re gonna have to find that out, because I’m gonna tell you, economics are gonna dictate that as well.

Daryl Huff, Hawaii News Now:

But how do you manage that situation? Can you picture yourself managing …

Rick Blangiardi, Candidate for Honolulu Mayor:

Well, I’ve worked with a lot of unions, okay, and there are things that you do, you don’t do. But I’m gonna say it again, the overriding financials determine, determine some of the things you’re talking about.

Chad Blair, Honolulu Civil Beat:

Are salaries potentially on the table? Is something that you want to think …

Rick Blangiardi, Candidate for Honolulu Mayor:

I think, I think everything is on the table in this situation. And that’s the reality check, right? People talk about making tough decisions. This is not the perpetuation of the status quo. We are gonna be in uncharted waters, whether anybody wants to hear that or not, that’s the reality, and that’s also the concern. So how … My plan would be to try to mitigate as much damage versus doing something that seems draconian. It’s just the opposite. But we’re gonna be faced with circumstances, they’re gonna be very painful.

Chad Blair, Honolulu Civil Beat:

But what about SHOPO? That’s the police union. They’ve endorsed you. Would you be able to stand up to them and say, look guys …

Rick Blangiardi, Candidate for Honolulu Mayor:

I already have. I’ve already come out in favor …

Chad Blair, Honolulu Civil Beat:

You’re not in office yet.

Rick Blangiardi, Candidate for Honolulu Mayor:

Right, but I already have. I got asked what my position was publicly on … Was it 285? I got so many numbers in my head.

Chad Blair, Honolulu Civil Beat:

So, yeah, HB285, the transparent, the misconduct record. Right, but that’s at the state level. We’re talking about, I mean, it applies to all four counties. But I’m saying if you’re facing a budget situation, a severe crisis, and I recognize collective bargaining is involved here, but you may have to turn to SHOPO and say look, I got your endorsement, but I’m afraid we’re gonna have to look at a, I don’t know, a 10% cut across …

Rick Blangiardi, Candidate for Honolulu Mayor:

Now, I have a different attitude towards that, Chad, on the first responders, because I think the safety of the people of the state is really important, of our city, of our island especially. And so, while there’s nobody who’s in a protected class, they’re already under-staffed some 300-plus jobs, and given everything that’s going on, I think it’s getting even more increasingly difficult to even recruit, which is part of the reason why they’re under. And so I would tell you that I would look at first responders last, because of what it means for …

Chad Blair, Honolulu Civil Beat:

Let’s see, can we say: sacred cow.

Rick Blangiardi, Candidate for Honolulu Mayor:

I wouldn’t say it’s a sacred cow. Nothing is sacred, nobody’s safe.

Chad Blair, Honolulu Civil Beat:

And let me just get you on the record …

Rick Blangiardi, Candidate for Honolulu Mayor:

Nothing is sacred, nobody’s safe, okay?

Chad Blair, Honolulu Civil Beat:

Got it. Let me just get you on the record. When it comes to police misconduct records, you would be in favor of releasing the names of those officers who have been suspended or been fired and making that public, which is the opposite of what SHOPO wants.

Rick Blangiardi, Candidate for Honolulu Mayor:

I’m already on record saying that. I called Malcolm (Lutu, the union’s president) about that. I was in this room, in this office, with Louis Kealoha demanding that. So I’m not gonna be duplicitous about that. I was surprised they endorsed me. I went in there taking a lot of heat for the actions of this newsroom towards the police department, and I stood my ground, okay? And they endorsed me, to my surprise, alright?

Daryl Huff, Hawaii News Now:

One thing, though, is that’s a very important reform, but also there’s other reforms being talked about …

Rick Blangiardi, Candidate for Honolulu Mayor:

Actually, by the way, can I just say one thing?

Daryl Huff, Hawaii News Now:

Please.

Rick Blangiardi, Candidate for Honolulu Mayor:

Dismissed police officers get reported, it’s just misconduct …

Christina Jedra, Honolulu Civil Beat:

Well, it’s often very difficult to get records about fired police officers.

Rick Blangiardi, Candidate for Honolulu Mayor:

Really?

Christina Jedra, Honolulu Civil Beat:

Even though they’re supposed to.

Rick Blangiardi, Candidate for Honolulu Mayor:

Ok. Well, so I haven’t been doing your job, but my understanding was on the books that the only thing that they were keeping back was the misconduct.

Chad Blair, Honolulu Civil Beat:

The only thing that’s really clear is that the police officers are the only government employees that have this exemption.

Rick Blangiardi, Candidate for Honolulu Mayor:

Ok.

Chad Blair, Honolulu Civil Beat:

Revealing their names involving misconduct.

Rick Blangiardi, Candidate for Honolulu Mayor:

Alright, so here is what I think, okay, I think my overall tenet of my administration, first and foremost, is gonna build trust. You have to have transparency to have trust in today’s world order, not just because what’s happened on the mainland, but even here. And especially given the circumstances, we’re gonna be on there, which is not gonna be easy to do. You know, you can’t have something like that, so it may not be what they wanna hear, but I believe in that. And I believe Caldwell has already come out in favor …

Chad Blair, Honolulu Civil Beat:

He is in favor …

Rick Blangiardi, Candidate for Honolulu Mayor:

Of this legislation. Right, so he understands it. I understand it. Okay?

Mahealani Richardson, Hawaii News Now:

Rick, I wanted to get to something that Chad had mentioned, and some of your opponents have said they don’t need training wheels for the job of mayor. Do you need training wheels?

Rick Blangiardi, Candidate for Honolulu Mayor:

Yeah, well, first of all, I find that very condescending, okay, if not arrogant. And I don’t think any of these other people have been asked before if they need training wheels to do their jobs, so … I’ve done some big jobs in my life. Is there a learning curve? Absolutely. Do they have a learning curve? Absolutely. You think any one of them has even been in a situation like this before? None of them have really even run anything. I run big organizations, complex organizations, tough situations, turning things around, as I said earlier. My problem is I don’t talk in singular pronouns, that’s my problem, and what I’m learning earlier on, the political office, they do, okay. So, you know, we are in a place where this is not deja vu. This…

Daryl Huff, Hawaii News Now:

I don’t get that reference, singular pro … You don’t talk in singular pron …

Rick Blangiardi, Candidate for Honolulu Mayor:

I don’t say, “I, I, I,” okay?

Chad Blair, Honolulu Civil Beat:

I think you did just say, “I don’t need training wheels.”

Rick Blangiardi, Candidate for Honolulu Mayor:

Yeah, well, thank you.

Christina Jedra, Honolulu Civil Beat:

Rick, I think what voters are gonna wanna know is they know that you’ve led a large organization very successfully, but what homework have you done that prepares you for the job of mayor, with the specific constraints that that job has?

Rick Blangiardi, Candidate for Honolulu Mayor:

Well, we’re doing homework every single day, Christina. I mean we’ve had all kinds of discussions on, and learning policy positions, on the homeless and what may be possible on rail, which has been … We haven’t got to yet, I’m sure, which is a big moving target. As recently as today, they just referred now to August 27th on the P3. I mean, this is a changing landscape, so when you talk about homework, when these shifting sands, it is hard, as I said earlier, we’re not even gonna be in office for six months, and the worst of this from the standpoint of how it impacts us, hasn’t happened yet. So my fear is you start to, it’s not about not learning something, I don’t wanna be in a position where we make statements about what we’re gonna do that don’t hold up.

Christina Jedra, Honolulu Civil Beat:

But why should voters choose you over someone who is more well-versed in the issues …

Rick Blangiardi, Candidate for Honolulu Mayor:

Are they more well-versed in the issues?

Christina Jedra, Honolulu Civil Beat:

People that have, you know, served on government boards before …

Rick Blangiardi, Candidate for Honolulu Mayor:

I would say to you, ”What’s their track record for getting things done?” Okay, that’s what I would say to you. I’ve gotten things done everywhere, anywhere I’ve been. My work in broadcast over the last 43 years is only part of what I’ve done. I’ve worked extensively here, this newsroom has afforded me a real lens on this community, but I’ve also worked diligently in this community out there, so there’s not like there’s some secret club in some secret mystery here. We’re gonna take things head-on, and I think that’s part of what has to happen.

Colin Moore, Hawaii News Now Political Analyst:

If you’re elected, you’re gonna have to work pretty closely with the state, um, you might not wanna talk about the details, but maybe just give us a big picture philosophy of how you’d work with Governor Ige, what’s your relationship like with the governor, and what would be your philosophy working with the state moving forward?

Rick Blangiardi, Candidate for Honolulu Mayor:

Look, this is … We talk about collaboration. If I’m fortunate enough to get elected or you make that trip over, it, and I recognize what the … Who the governor is and what the governor represents. So you start to work in a collaborative way. Um, you know Colin, that’s exactly what we don’t wanna have is this sort of positioning, if you will, this sort of silos. And I’m here, and you’re there. This is gonna take all of us. It’s gonna take not only the state and the city working together, and hopefully having a City Council that understands that, but this is also involving the private sector, winning trust with the people who live here, getting understanding.

It’s gonna be a lot that’s gonna happen that way. So I think it’s about … I think it’s about collaborating and not getting territorial, and communicating, and, you know … When the cameras are rolling, I’d tell you it’s about having the right heart for this job, okay? I’ve got the leadership experience, I’ve got the capabilities mentally here on what it takes to do it, but I think there’s another dimension about the caring that goes on, and then what’s at stake.

Stewart Yerton, Honolulu Civil Beat:

Do you have any ideas on how to rebuild the economy, create new jobs, new sectors to target?

Rick Blangiardi, Candidate for Honolulu Mayor:

Yeah, um, you know, that’s the number one thing, right? So we’re now, we’re gonna run for mayor. The talking points, I thought, were gonna be on homelessness and rail, because we’ve done enough, extensive research. But clearly things like neighborhood crime, infrastructure, elder care, classic talking points in the city, and now COVID happens, right? So the rebuild of the economy is an enormous thing that nobody in this, in the field has ever done before. Right? Yet, I’m asking or being asked … So I also know, to the work we’ve done in broadcast over all the years, have a lot of respect for small businesses, and we’ve initiated a lot of small business programs over the years to give them the light of day to create awareness and whatever. In this particular case, I think the first thing we’re do is, we’re gonna have to find out who’s surviving, because a lot of people are saying they’ve either closed their doors forever, they’re about to close their doors forever. What are we out there?

So the first thing is to try to do is help these people understand and get the maximum amount of money we can get from the city’s P3 money, or the PPP money, that was allocated. Okay? And I think the second thing is helping them become operational in from the standpoint of any PPE that they need, or anything else that they need, to allow them to do business. And then I think the last thing would be really trying to help them navigate through the federal monies, I think we’re gonna have to be that kind of a resource. And providing that kind of outreach, so many businesses in this town, our families run, or they employ 20 or fewer people, and they’re really at risk, so we’re gonna have to really be in that kind of helping relationship in every way we can.

Daryl Huff, Hawaii News Now:

Rick, on that point, you do have the luxury of being able to run as a blank slate, you know. Looking forward. So, one way of analyzing how you think about issues is to look back a little bit. So on the COVID thing, when the mayor puts his first orders, shutting things down…

Rick Blangiardi, Candidate for Honolulu Mayor:

Right.

Daryl Huff, Hawaii News Now:

… shut down anybody, any business, that was not essential.

Rick Blangiardi, Candidate for Honolulu Mayor:

Right.

Daryl Huff, Hawaii News Now:

Many of those were small businesses that only sold one or two products out of their stores, and they’re done. Many of those will never come back, partly because they were shut down immediately and then were closed, furloughed.

Rick Blangiardi, Candidate for Honolulu Mayor:

And many, Daryl, forgive me, many were also depending on state contracts. A lot of small businesses.

Daryl Huff, Hawaii News Now:

And meanwhile, these big box stores, the Walmarts and so on, were able to operate, selling the same products that those poor small business people were selling. So, do you think that the orders that came out at the initial COVID crisis were over-broad and too damaging to the economy? Would you maybe have done that a little differently?

Rick Blangiardi, Candidate for Honolulu Mayor:

Yeah, I think I would have. You know, it’s hard to … You know, the one thing I don’t wanna do is second guessing, and now we’re going back in time here, okay? I was a little bit despondent over the communication that was coming out because it was all over the place, from the governor’s office, to the mayor’s office, and people jockeying for leadership positions and miscommunicating. And I know, just through the work we’ve done here in broadcast, we’re in crisis, you’re providing information. It’s really important, especially information that could possibly save people’s lives. But back to your question. I went to supermarkets, and I went to Walmart, I went to different places, I even was in the kupuna line at Costco…

Daryl Huff, Hawaii News Now:

I’m having a hard time picturing you at Walmart, but keep going.

Rick Blangiardi, Candidate for Honolulu Mayor:

I did, even though in some cases, we had social distancing walking in, once you walked through the door that was all over, okay. And so I really thought, “Gee whiz,” you know, this essential business thing here is a bit of a shibai.” And so I really felt that, you know … I understood when we locked down in March, I understood, absolutely. And when we hit the third week of April and they said, “We’re gonna close to May 31st,” I thought, “Wow,” because I was already hearing from people in businesses or whatever, that this is breaking their backs. This was gonna be really hard, and that seemed to me to be an overreach. Okay, and so I really thought at that time that, you know, we lost perspective on good public health and a stable economy. Right? And everything was gonna be on the side of good public health, with no accountability to a stable economy, understanding the businesses that are out there. And that just got extended upon extended. I’ve understood, I supported the governor’s decision on what we’ve done with tourism, even though, even though that is significant. Okay? But I thought we could have got other small local businesses, given the commerce of this place, back, and it seemed to be no willingness to do that. And I thought that was punishing.

Mahealani Richardson, Hawaii News Now:

Rick, you mentioned shopping in the lines at Walmart. You’ve had a very lucrative and successful career in television, so what makes you able to understand the problems of a multi-generational family that’s working multiple jobs to make ends meet?

Rick Blangiardi, Candidate for Honolulu Mayor:

Let me tell you something about my life, Mahea, that you don’t know. I grew up in a bilingual household in a tenement, my mother was a youngest of nine. My father was the oldest of seven, immigrant families. We didn’t even have a bathroom in my house at the age of 12, okay. Those are my roots. And then I was the first of my family to go to college, and not only that, you know, I was really proud of that, but then I got into a business called football coaching, which was my passion of what I wanted to do, and I wasn’t making any money. I would work the … I got to be the associate head football coach at the University of Hawaii, and defensive coordinator with our coaching parts, I had a good career going before the age of 30.

And we worked really hard, had a baby coming, I was making $15,000 a year despite having a master’s degree. So I got into television because Cec Heftel told me if I was gonna work hard in three years I could make $50,000 a year. And at that time Larry Price was the head coach, he was making $25,000. And for the first time, somebody told me, you could make double what the head coach was making, because all through college and everything else I worked my way through school. You know, I never thought, well, making money, because I was in a business at that time, at that time, it just didn’t pay well. I love coaching. I was making $15,000 a year. Nick Rolovich just left for $15 million. What’s the difference in four years?

I’ve never forgotten who I am, okay. I got into this business to take care of my family, which is what most jobs are gonna be about. I mentioned that early, I’ve always been putting other people first, and so I worked hard and built success against the odds, year after year, setting after setting, I’ve never forgotten who I am.

Daryl Huff, Hawaii News Now:

You mentioned Cec Heftel and it reminded me of something. He ran for governor as a self-made person, and he basically, one of his problems running for governor was this widespread perception that he was buying the election. Are you doing that or are you financed outside? Or how are you financing?

Rick Blangiardi, Candidate for Honolulu Mayor:

Well, it’s been the most incredible time to raise money to run for office. I mean I’ll be honest with you, there are people that I wouldn’t ask for money because I know that they’re carrying their own employees. I’ve had business associates in town, so you know, I’m self-funding to the extent that I can, but I will tell you far from buying the election, there’s a lot of things. I’m just trying to … you said earlier, I’m glad you brought that up Daryl. I’m just trying to win in the primary. That’s the first thing. OK, it’s gotta be two of us, so you know we haven’t had the most financial resources, but we’re doing okay, we’re trying to put it out there, but it’s anything but buying an election.

Christina Jedra, Hawaii News Now:

Rick, what single action do you think would most improve the lives of Honolulu’s families and future generations?

Rick Blangiardi, Candidate for Honolulu Mayor:

Wow, that’s a great question. What single action? I wish there was a single action.

Christina Jedra, Hawaii News Now:

Or one area?

Rick Blangiardi, Candidate for Honolulu Mayor:

One area.

Christina Jedra, Hawaii News Now:

That’s you’d focus on …

Rick Blangiardi, Candidate for Honolulu Mayor:

I actually think that if we can … I’m gonna go back to homelessness. I think if it’s … despite the fact that’s a fraction of 1% of our state’s population, I’ve done enough research even when I was here, but even since then, on what’s top of mind. Even during COVID-19 and so, you know, to me, it’s tied, it’s tied to our root culture, it’s about compassion and taking care of that, but it’s actually spread because … Got a little bit of a different composition now the chronic homeless have become a danger to a lot of people. And so I think that if we could, if we did that combined with having affordable rentals really doing that and building to a different AMI and making it feasible for people to stay.

You know, a couple of years ago, Hawaii Business did an article that for the first time in state’s history, people who were born here, and this is true of two of my three children who are alive, living elsewhere, rival the in-state population. That, you know, I’m not suggesting we could have to 2 million people here, I’m not saying that at all, but it’s that whole thing of feeling like I can’t make it here, I’ve gotta leave, or having homelessness in people’s faces to remind them. You know, you’re familiar with the ALICE report how fragile things are, one out of two people, and I think that number is gonna increase from the 50% or higher number, so I so I would tell ya there’s no one thing here, I think we’ve gotta be, we gotta, we gotta have to be open to entrepreneurs, an entrepreneur ideas, new thinking, I’m not gonna go down that, diverse, diversifying our economy, laying in any kind of rhetoric, I’ve looked at.

You’ve asked him what I’ve been learning over this time, you listen to, you could read what every governor has said, over the last 50 years about diversifying the economy and what’s really happened, but I do think there’s a lot of entrepreneurs, entrepreneur ideas out there, and I said, you know building in that construction and in our agriculture and certainly in our energy sector, we have opportunity to do some things that are … you know that we need to do. So I think it’s understanding who we are, we’re gonna bring it to one. And then doing the things that facilitate that. You know, so whether it’s, it’s being really progressive if you want our thinking on job creation.

Christina Jedra, Hawaii News Now:

Well back to the housing piece for one moment. You know, we hear all the time, “We need to address the homelessness, we need to increase affordable housing.” Politicians say this you know ad nauseam, but what exactly is your plan to do that. What are you gonna do differently?

Rick Blangiardi, Candidate for Honolulu Mayor:

The affordable housing, the notion of affordable housing is kinda lost. The word “affordability” to me has sort of lost its meaning, OK? Because if you look at what the rental incomes are and what people make, and this is why you don’t have one job is enough and whatever. So we, look when I first came back to go to graduate school in ’71, I lived in a little cement building, three steps walk-up kind of a thing, I don’t know when they stopped making those, haven’t seen one of those buildings a long time, we’re gonna just have to take a look at what we can actually build. Not to remove homelessness.

Christina Jedra, Hawaii News Now:

But do you have a plan to address it?

Rick Blangiardi, Candidate for Honolulu Mayor:

Do I have a specific plan right now on a housing plan? I think we’ll develop that. I think I can tell you right now that I think that, that there are developers who really want to build that way. There are incentives that could be, that could happen that way, and I think we’re gonna design that.

Mahealani Richardson, Hawaii News Now:

Rick, you know we’ve seen the Mauna Kea movement spark conflict and protests across the state and over city projects. What would you tell those nervous developers who have said, I have followed the law, we’ve gotten the approval from government, police who feel that they’ve made to look out like the bad guys and native Hawaiians who are willing to risk their lives and be arrested for their beliefs what would you tell those three groups?

Rick Blangiardi, Candidate for Honolulu Mayor:

What is the question specifically?

Mahealani Richardson, Hawaii News Now:

The question specifically is, “What would you say to those three groups if you were in the middle of a conflict over a city project?”

Rick Blangiardi, Candidate for Honolulu Mayor:

Well, I think we need to be community-based, first of all. I signed the pledge agreement to protect Sherwood Forest, had nothing to do. Kahuku was already done. I had nothing to do with the … It was the voice I could have as a candidate, but I went out there, I walked around the grounds, I met with people, I went to Waimanalo Town Hall meeting, Town Center at the school, drove all through the valley never even been back in the back of Waimanalo before. I think it’s about, we need to communicate. I think we’ve got a responsibility to our residents, so I think it’s really about whether you “listen to hear” whether you “listen to speak.” I’ve learned to “listen to hear” and do what’s practical.

So I think, look, if I were to say it this way, we have a lot of fear and uncertainty now, that’s only gonna be exacerbated on a going forward basis, so to project that into office if you will, with a fearful people like you just said, concerned people, if the first order of business through our actions would be to create hope, then my end game would be with a time I left office would be to leave a confident people. That’s gonna come from integrity, it’s gonna come from doing right by a community, by doing it by just treating people who live here as if they have a voice in what you’re doing.

Mahealani Richardson, Hawaii News Now:

Rick, you know, many Native Hawaiians have been angered by your support of the Thirty Meter Telescope project. It is a state project, but they are angry at you because of that stance, why should they change their minds about you?

Rick Blangiardi, Candidate for Honolulu Mayor:

You know, we, we took a position on getting the workers back up and Keck, we’re aggressive about ‘cause we really felt that those are local people there that needed to get back to work and it was hurting the planet. When this shifted to what it became on sovereignty issues, we became very respectful and my voice then was not anywhere as vocal.

If we were advocates, just to be clear, ‘cause I’ve talked to a number of Hawaiian people, if we were advocates on anything it was about getting the workers back up at Keck because that was responsible and the right thing to do. Um, and uh that’s what that is. And if people … I will tell you what’s the root of that, to be really perfectly honest, because so much of our advertising here came, the TMT chose Hawaii News Now, to advertise on because of the strength of this newsroom, that because we got the advertising here, I got associated with it that way.

Mahealani Richardson, Hawaii News Now:

But on the flip side, if you look at the developer side, they feel that they have followed the law and they have followed all of these processes, so the others have criticized government for not being swift and decisive when it comes to these projects.

Rick Blangiardi, Candidate for Honolulu Mayor:

So you’re talking about developers up, we’re gonna talk about TMT.

Mahealani Richardson, Hawaii News Now:

All developers who are now saying government is not moving fast enough, they’re not making swift and decisive decisions, and they are coddling people who are willing to stand in front of the project.

Chad Blair, Honolulu Civil Beat:

There’s a worry that a developer has an idea for something that’s gonna be important, think solar energy, right now Hawaiian Electric is moving forward with wording these projects to have solar to be really good things moving, but the concern is what happens if a developer has met all those obligations to build the project and then along comes a group perhaps it’s a Native Hawaiian group who says, “You can’t build this here, you can’t build this there.” What are you gonna do with what?

Rick Blangiardi, Candidate for Honolulu Mayor:

Well, I think … And I wanna go back to what Christina asked me about the plan because I really … my plan is centered around DPP and what we need to do there, OK, in the Department of Planning and Permitting. To that end, that’s gonna be hard to project, you know, I’m all for people’s ability to protest, but this again, when you’re a community-based, if it should be done ahead of time, there’s a matter of building trust and whatever, I would have to just see what that situation is, I’ve not seen that be evolving solo with people protesting saying, “You can’t build that here.”

Chad Blair, Honolulu Civil Beat:

Well, look at Kahuku, look at, look at the wind turbines.

Rick Blangiardi, Candidate for Honolulu Mayor:

Yeah.

Chad Blair, Honolulu Civil Beat:

That was something where the people in those neighborhoods felt they were not being listened to, and in fact it was the police that had to come in and enforce that and make sure at the equipment got up there to build those things.

Rick Blangiardi, Candidate for Honolulu Mayor:

Yeah.

Chad Blair, Honolulu Civil Beat:

The folks up there in Kahuku asked them, a lot of them felt like, “You didn’t listen to us.”

Rick Blangiardi, Candidate for Honolulu Mayor:

Right.

Stewart Yerton, Honolulu Civil Beat:

It changes.

Rick Blangiardi, Candidate for Honolulu Mayor:

I didn’t have that, I hadn’t had anything to do with that. I would not let that happen. In fact, I was surprised that they moved, they moved all that to places with people. I don’t know how something like that happened, Chad. I wanna say it again, I’m getting in this, you asked me early, you were the one that wanted to ask me about … about how I perceive things. I mean that’s the kind of stuff that shouldn’t really be happening now. Now you can’t always please everybody, but it seems to me like there was more than a breakdown there on what happened. I’m sorry.

Daryl Huff, Hawaii News Now:

To be clear, you’re saying that you would not have arrested people in order them to have the wind farm get up there.

Rick Blangiardi, Candidate for Honolulu Mayor:

I think that part of the complaints coming out from Kahuku had a lot to do with the fact that the big wind mills, which were noisy, and everything were put in places, they didn’t know where it was gonna be, it was different than what they thought. OK?

Daryl Huff, Hawaii News Now:

With the industrialization of a rural neighborhood, right?

Rick Blangiardi, Candidate for Honolulu Mayor:

Yeah, that’s part of it. We’re gonna need wind power as part of our future, though, and anybody who’s involved with that will tell you that on the Clean Energy Initiative, but you know whether it was a lack of transparency, a deception. I don’t know, I don’t know, I wasn’t involved in that. I watched the stories that we covered here on that, but there was something that had really broken down, and I think that’s what I’m trying to say you know.

Daryl Huff, Hawaii News Now:

We need to shift over to rail a little bit because we need to make sure we have enough time to do that.

Rick Blangiardi, Candidate for Honolulu Mayor:

Yeah, I just want to make sure, Mahea, you had another question?

Mahealani Richardson, Hawaii News Now:

No.

Rick Blangiardi, Candidate for Honolulu Mayor:

Oh, I’m sorry.

Daryl Huff, Hawaii News Now:

She was telling me “rail.”

Rick Blangiardi, Candidate for Honolulu Mayor:

Oh, I’m sorry.

Daryl Huff, Hawaii News Now:

So you know, the whole rail project right now is, depending on what you mentioned earlier, the 3P, the private part, public-private partnership,

Rick Blangiardi, Candidate for Honolulu Mayor:

Right.

Daryl Huff, Hawaii News Now:

And they’re counting on a consortium of companies coming together in order to build the last segment and then run it for 30 years, hopefully take the risk out of the project, they just moved it back again, do you feel confident that that’s gonna come through and if it doesn’t, what’s plan B for you?

Rick Blangiardi, Candidate for Honolulu Mayor:

Yeah.

Daryl Huff, Hawaii News Now:

If that P3 doesn’t work. What’s plan B?

Rick Blangiardi, Candidate for Honolulu Mayor:

Well, I’m not confident it’s gonna come through. OK, and we were waiting like everybody else, it’s getting pushed off until August 27th. They seem to be, HART, seems to be, rather not had the conversation with anybody to date, that will definitely be a key, but then it becomes at what cost? Nobody knows the details. So I, you know, like anything, it’s almost like Venture Capital, I would not be prepared to wanna sell off a whole lot of the City to do that necessarily, so I let me be really clear about a couple of things.

Daryl Huff, Hawaii News Now:

You know the other day, you were jumping on another candidate’s position because you say, “Oh, I wanna move, I build it all the way to a Ala Moana.”

Rick Blangiardi, Candidate for Honolulu Mayor:

That’s right. I’ll to come that right now.

Daryl Huff, Hawaii News Now:

Well, well, but you said that it would “increase property taxes to record levels,” but nobody is supporting using property tax to pay for a rail or, I’m wondering who told you that that would happen?

Rick Blangiardi, Candidate for Honolulu Mayor:

Well, because how else you’re gonna pay for it? You see I turned around, I asked, ”Was you think we’re gonna get more money from the feds?” We’re gonna get more money from the feds to do that which is what I heard people, which is what I’ve heard people saying that, ‘cause what’s it gonna come. You’re gonna have a real depression in your GET and your hotel room tax, which is actually has a lot to do with the construction of the Rail, so if you’re gonna say build it to Ala Moana, let’s just be feasible and let’s be real. OK, and I was always an advocate for building the Rail, to completion, COVID-19, there’s a “pre-” and “post,” COVID-19 is a wake-up call.

So if you’re gonna say, “We’re gonna build it to Ala Moana,” and you already know, first of all, we don’t even know what the bid is gonna come in at, the $1.4 billion for the last 4.1 miles is tied to P3, provided the bids, what if it’s an even a bigger number. How does that get paid for? If in fact, if they’re gonna pay that, okay, at what price do we have to give up the city, so my point is, you’re gonna have less revenue, that’s been already the model to fund this thing from the general excise tax and the room tax, OK. And so if you’re not gonna raise property taxes, you’re gonna go the Feds, you gonna go the Feds and you’re gonna say we need more money for a project, that’s billions of dollars over budget, that’s years behind in the making, that’s under investigation for corruption and other things. Where’s … you think that’s a likely source of money, so where is it gonna come from under these circumstances?

Chad Blair, Honolulu Civil Beat:

You’re the guy that’s running for mayor, tell us.

Rick Blangiardi, Candidate for Honolulu Mayor:

Well, I think, I’m not gonna raise property taxes. So then we have a whole different mindset about where we are with rail and what we’re gonna do about it. Now, are there alternatives or whatever? Look, it’s not desirable to stop it at Middle Street, if you listen to all the analysts about ridership and everything else, okay, that’s not a desirable conclusion, but there’s a lot of things we’re about to face that are not desirable.

Christina Jedra, Hawaii News Now:

So what do you do about it?

Rick Blangiardi, Candidate for Honolulu Mayor:

So let … well, you’re asking me what is the call?

Christina Jedra, Hawaii News Now:

So in that situation.

Rick Blangiardi, Candidate for Honolulu Mayor:

If we can’t, if we can’t build it, we make the call, we stop it. Just like I’m gonna tell you, “If we can’t pay you, you don’t have a job anymore.”

Daryl Huff, Hawaii News Now:

You mean stop it, or stall it?

Rick Blangiardi, Candidate for Honolulu Mayor:

Well, I said earlier, I’d probably stall. This is a 100-year project. Do you remember how it got sold? It’s a 100 year project. This was gonna be the link between Honolulu and the building of a second city.

Alright, so if you’ve got to take a time out because of a global pandemic, that is unprecedented in our history, that’s gonna cause pain and suffering for the common person working where it’s already under hardship, okay, what, what is wrong with that? If you have to do that and then maybe you come back another point in time, you know because who’s gonna pay for it? It’s not gonna get paid, and if these guys are gonna come in and let’s say it’s $2 billion or slightly more … I’ve heard projections all the way up, it could be a $15 billion, and they’re gonna say, “We’ll take this … if there was even a P3.” At what price would they take that? What would we have to give them.

Daryl Huff, Hawaii News Now:

Let me understand … sorry to monopolize our side of the table, this side of the table for a minute

Rick Blangiardi, Candidate for Honolulu Mayor:

No.

Daryl Huff, Hawaii News Now:

But if you, the main financing mechanism for the rail has been the excise tax, and now the TAT for the entirety. Right? A good portion of the excise tax comes from the visitor industry, obviously, the TAT’s entirely from the visitor industry. If the visitor industry comes back in three or four years, those taxes will be back again, and what I’m hearing you say is maybe you stall until that starts happening?

Rick Blangiardi, Candidate for Honolulu Mayor:

That’s what I said. Yes.

Daryl Huff, Hawaii News Now:

Okay.

Rick Blangiardi, Candidate for Honolulu Mayor:

That’s what I said, yes, that’s what I meant by stall. It’s a 100-year project. We may not be able to go forward, not forward with it now, just like the hotel worker who’s gonna lose their job ‘cause the hotel has got one-fifth of the attendance in there, there’s nothing. If you can’t pay for something, you can’t pay for it, and it’s a notion of … that’s why I said “You gonna raise the property taxes?” The comment that was made was, “We’ll sharpen our pencils.”Are you kidding me on that project? Where is it gonna come from? You’ve gotta be … look, maybe I’m just too grounded in reality, but that’s who I am.

Daryl Huff, Hawaii News Now:

So you say you haven’t met with HART. Have you?

Daryl Huff, Hawaii News Now:

No, I passed, I passed Robbins in a hallway. No, I’m waiting to see if they’re gonna … I was all set to meet with him, July, after July 23rd, you know I wanted to … we would all find out even then, I think with the announcement comes out, I’m not sure when it would be awarded, but no, we haven’t done that yet.

Mahealani Richardson, Hawaii News Now:

We wanted to just shift gears a little bit, we wanted you to explain one of the most difficult periods of your life and how have you gotten yourself out of it?

Rick Blangiardi, Candidate for Honolulu Mayor:

Well, all I’ve done my whole life, it’s work hard against the odds, Mahea. There were different times in different chapters in my life that were more difficult than others, I’ve always believed in just having integrity, work hard, stay hon … be honest, integrity and honesty are little bit different in my mind from the standpoint of … who I’ve been on a consistent basis.

Mahealani Richardson, Hawaii News Now:

Can you share a specific story?

Rick Blangiardi, Candidate for Honolulu Mayor:

Of real hardship?

Mahealani Richardson, Hawaii News Now:

Yeah.

Rick Blangiardi, Candidate for Honolulu Mayor:

I think, Mahea, it was a … from a financial standpoint, I guess or maybe from a career standpoint. I left coaching. I didn’t wanna leave coaching. That was really hard for me. I was doing really well. I was born to be a college football coach. I have every confidence if I had stayed then I would have been a head coach, you know at some point. I just was really comfortable in that, um but I couldn’t afford it to stay in it, and so I took a job, I knew nothing about. You know this is, this is how I got into a broadcast career. Friends of mine who had left coaching, said, “Don’t go sell insurance. You’ll hate it. Don’t sell sporting goods, you’ll hate it.” I literally backed into a media job, I really had no game plan of who, despite the fact I already had a master’s degree. I was so programmed, I was gonna go to that. So I changed my life’s direction and that wasn’t easy. And they didn’t exactly roll over and make room for me at KGMB in those days. That was a dominant television station. So it was out of that. And quite honestly, in the beginning, I even felt sorry for myself for a while, I didn’t walk into it feeling really good about it, I was doing it out of duress, it’s a tough chapter. I had a baby coming. So that was a turning point for me. It was a major turning point. Since then, there’s been, there’s been ups and downs in my life you know um, it’s not been easy.

Colin Moore, Hawaii News Now Political Analyst:

Rick, reflecting back on your career, when was the last time you changed your mind about something really important?

Rick Blangiardi, Candidate for Honolulu Mayor:

That’s a great question, Collin. Have I ever changed my mind about something important? ‘Cause I can tell you I changed my mind a lot, a lot of times working here because we try to stay fluid, you know I … something really important. I changed my mind? I changed my life, I left a job that I loved doing each and every day with people I really cared about, and a place that I really felt we were making a contribution to go and do this. Okay, I went from being on top of my game to be questioned by people that I never used to get questioned by. Okay? To being criticized about stuff, to having people say. … So I would tell you I changed my mind to do this because I felt inspired that I could provide the kind of leadership for place that I love. I fell in love with Hawaii 55 years ago as a young person. The thing that’s been amazing for me, it’s loved me back, and so this is about that, and I will tell you right now, the real driver in this whole thing, and you’ve already alluded to it a couple of times. I felt a real sense of responsibility.

We all live here, we all have concerns. When you work in a newsroom, a news setting, maybe even feel a little bit more, because through the lens of this place, you see a lot. And plus in my work. You know, what I learned is that you can feel that responsibility, no matter what leverage we’ve tried to bring to bear, I had no authority, you know I had no authority. This is about getting authority to make decisions, to make things happen, and no I don’t have a plan for everything right now, but we will, but I know how to put plans together and how to execute, and so that’s what I would tell you what this is about, right now, and I like the fact that the job is open, I don’t have to bash the incumbent or Kirk, if you will, and it’s about getting us through this, for me, this will be my … I’m not building a political career, OK? I’m not. I’m gonna go into this job with everything I have, and I’ve had nothing but success in my whole life, and I know what drives that success, and that’s gonna be my approach to this job.

Colin Moore, Hawaii News Now Political Analyst:

You know, a lot of my students at UH, and I talk to them every day, they don’t see a future for themselves in the city, what would you say to them to convince them to stay and raise their own their own families?

Rick Blangiardi, Candidate for Honolulu Mayor:

I talked to young people all the time and I tell ‘em, “We need you. You have to stay here.” But we’ve gotta give them a reason to do that. Right? So that’s gonna be really hard. You know as I said earlier, I’m not indifferent about people leaving. I feel bad, I feel really badly. In fact, somebody said to me, just so you know, the housing thing, “Oh, well if all those people leave will have a housing available.” I thought, “That’s not the way I wanna look at life.” But just maybe … Is there’s something to that? You know, but maybe, maybe there’s something to that. You know maybe I’ll … but we don’t want that to happen.

So we don’t want young people to leave, two of my three kids don’t live here, they’ll never live here. They were all born here. So I think it’s gonna be more of the entrepreneurial front, but I also think we could do some things in ag and in energy that are pretty sexy and construction’s a great trade. And for that matter, when you asked me earlier about the police, you know I’m hopeful we can get better staffing, much less, less police because we’ve got 300-plus openings and that’s not, that’s not an ideal for the men and women who are serving in the police department.

There’s a lot of strain to that, to try to cover what has to be covered, so I think it’s gonna have to be through our actions. Just setting a different tone. Look, I’m a real big believer in leadership, and the difference a leader can make. Okay, I like to think that even at city hall, right now on, I’m not saying “Everybody’s gotta go out.” There’s probably really good people there, there are a lot of really good people when we moved in here and they had, and I know what we created over the course of time, so that’s what’s different. I’ll tell you this, I’ll say it very clearly. I’m different than any of the other candidates, and I’m different than the guy who’s in that office right now, and that’s what’s on the table, and it’s my life’s work and my passion for Hawaii, and my caring with no other agenda, and I’m not gonna be compromised ‘cause I don’t seek anything else in public office, that’s who I am. That’s the integrity I’ll bring to this. And what I don’t know, I can learn. And what I don’t know and I can’t learn, I’ll find people who do, because that’s no different than even in this situation or other ones I’ve been in, surrounding myself with a lot of really smart people who get the job done.

Mahealani Richardson, Hawaii News Now:

Rick, what is your favorite song and why?

Rick Blangiardi, Candidate for Honolulu Mayor:

My favorite song and why?

Chad Blair, Honolulu Civil Beat:

What a shift!

Rick Blangiardi, Candidate for Honolulu Mayor:

Oh, how about, ”It’s Too Late to Turn Back Now.”

laughter

Rick Blangiardi, Candidate for Honolulu Mayor:

How about that? Yeah, by the Cornelius Brothers and Sister Rose. Yeah, yeah, yeah, I had those thoughts, I tell ya.

Daryl Huff, Hawaii News Now:

I’m interested in that choice because when you started this campaign, I’m sure you had a completely different idea where it was, what it would be like. What have been your big disappointments in what has actually transpired, when it comes to your ability to get into office to run for office?

Rick Blangiardi, Candidate for Honolulu Mayor:

Disappointments have just mostly been, I wanted to get out there. You talk a couple of different scenarios about meeting people, you know talking with different people who might have been upset with me or would be just going into community and hearing. I actually said that at the day I announced at the Old Stadium Park, I was, I wanted to get out to all parts of the island. We’ve been precluded from doing that.

That’s, that’s been for me … to me, it’s a really human deal here, it’s just really, it’s just really organic. I mean you know, that’s been a bit of a frustration, and you only see so many people on a Zoom or you’ll hear something like you just said, and what can I do? I can’t even defend myself, you know I can’t even say anything, I can’t even have a rational conversation. Let’s say, I wasn’t even trying to defend myself, but just have a meeting of the minds and now you’re even precluded from doing that. And in today’s world, with social media, you’re almost defenseless, people can say whatever they wanna say, you can’t respond to all of that.

Christina Jedra, Honolulu Civil Beat:

Rick, is there something that you know you’re likely to fail at as mayor, something about the job you already know is not your strong suit?

Rick Blangiardi, Candidate for Honolulu Mayor:

That’s a great question. You guys are full of good questions today. I said I was gonna come in here and pull a Bill Belichick and just say, “No, I don’t like that question” you know? “Next.”

You know, fear has always been my greatest motivator, I don’t wanna fail, and I wanna, I would tell you what I feel right now in this campaign, is the people who’ve volun … it’s all volunteers, I don’t have any paid staff, is not letting anybody down. And for those people telling me “Rick I’m pulling for you, I want you to be,” I don’t wanna disappoint, and so I don’t wanna fail.

And you know I’m the first to admit when I don’t know something, that humility has served me well. I’ve never claimed to be the “smartest Crayon in the box.” Ever. But I’ve had a gift, if you will, of being able to pick really good people and work with them and understand … understand what they bring to it. So if I was to tell you, kind of always talked about this a little bit, I managed three kinds of capital, capital is always been … money, the money, we’re talking about a budget. That part’s, that part’s a byproduct of having a great organization, the part that’s always been intriguing where it really made the difference, is the human capital, the people who we pick the men and women who come to work, but then being able to work effectively with their primary derivative, which is their intellectual capital and how you embrace those ideas.

Mahealani Richardson, Hawaii News Now:

Finally, what are three words that the next generation will use to describe you, just three words.

Rick Blangiardi, Candidate for Honolulu Mayor:

It could be three adjectives, that could be one thing.

Mahealani Richardson, Hawaii News Now:

Three words.

Rick Blangiardi, Candidate for Honolulu Mayor:

You know, “Got things done.” (pause)

Decisive, Fair, Tough-minded.

Mahealani Richardson, Hawaii News Now:

Rick Blangiardi, thank you so much for your time.

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