Rail rules the night in mayoral debate

By Lara Yamada
Published On: Jul 06 2012 07:21:30 AM HST

The leading candidates for Honolulu Mayor duked it out over everything from rail to rubbish on the PBS mayoral debate.

HONOLULU -

In a mayoral debate Thursday on PBS, leading candidates for Honolulu Mayor duked it out over everything from rail to rubbish, but the subject of rail ruled the debate for nearly the entire hour.

"We can always build rail better and I'm looking to do exactly that," said Former Honolulu Managing Director Kirk Caldwell.

"Ben's option will keep those cars on the road and that will be catastrophic, so instead of just suffocating traffic it will be annihilating traffic," said Mayor Peter Carlisle.

"My question to the viewers is do you want to pay 5.2 billion dollars or seven billion for something that's going to reduce traffic congestion by 1.4 or 5 percent. Not me," said Former Governor Ben Cayetano.

Even as moderator Dan Boylan tried to move the discussion to the developments of Hoopili and Koa Ridge, or the homeless, Caldwell and Carlisle brought it right back to rail, even with Cayetano giving his stamp approval on the homeless issue.

"We can do better and I think with rail we can build affordable housing," said Caldwell.

"And we can do a good job putting people into the types of housing that they need, particularly with transit-oriented development," said Carlisle.

"Frankly, these guys got good homeless programs, and I can't disagree with them, but what's important is for the city and state to leverage their programs," said Cayetano.

Finally moving off rail, the candidates tried to separate themselves on what to do about a landfill, sewer problems, garbage pickup, and whether to combine EMS and Fire operations.

But allegations over illegal campaign spending by Cayetano in the past, brought about the night's most heated exchange -- Carlisle taking credit for changing the rules.

"The person who did ultimately stop it, you're looking at," said Carlisle.

"Bottom line is, it's not acceptable it's not ok," said Caldwell.

"Come on man," said Cayetano looking at Caldwell. "Look at me. Are you saying I did something wrong?" 

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