The Race For Mayor Is On Track
Wednesday - July 30, 2008
Now it’s a race.
Don’t get me wrong. I am not anti-Mufi. I like the mayor. He’s intelligent, determined and charming when he wants to be, not to mention he’s a darned good singer. But having City Councilwoman Ann Kobayashi and UH professor Panos Prevedouros chasing after his job can only be good for the city of Honolulu.
I have never been a fan of unopposed races, no matter how popular or powerful or effective a candidate or office-holder has been. Having no one to challenge them on the issues can make them arrogant.
An overly secure politician may begin to take his constituents for granted. He or she may feel it unnecessary to include the public in the critical discussions of the day, be it war, or energy, or mass transit. And no matter to which side of that particular argument you belong, there is no doubt that you deserve a voice.
I happen to favor rail. I believe it to be an integral part of the solutions we must seek - not just for transportation but also for the environment. Having once lived in Ewa Beach, I can tell you that I would have jumped at the chance to take a train to school or town rather than sit in traffic, burning up fuel and patience, and then paying an arm and a leg for parking. The rail systems I’ve ridden in this country and others have mostly been effective and easy ways to get from point A to point B.
This is the time for rail. Ridership across the country is going up, and I think we all know why. Gas prices are not going to go down. I was at TheBus pass office on Middle Street the other day and the guys behind the counter told me they’re seeing a big increase in the number of folks coming in to get passes.
So we need more, not fewer, fuel-efficient buses, just as we need better-engineered highways and, I believe, a rail system. They must be integrated in order for us to reap the maximum benefits, otherwise we have what we’ve always had - piecemeal projects that may or may not work together. We need a system that fits together like a jigsaw puzzle.
How we get there, however, makes a difference. There is a real and growing concern about the way the mayor’s plans are being implemented and how much they will cost us. The dissenting voices are loud, but do they represent the majority? Problem is, we really don’t know. Of course, there are conflicting interests. There always are in a project of this magnitude. But the bottom line is we are the stakeholders. If enough people say they want a vote, they should have it.
What we don’t need is another study. We’ve had study after study and years of indecision. Enough! We need action, and that requires a decision - yes or no.
Should the matter come to a vote, we will see once and for all where the voters of Honolulu stand. And even if the transit question itself is not on the ballot, people will now have the opportunity to vote their choices through the candidates.
Mayor Hannemann, Councilwoman Kobayashi and professor Prevedouros are smart and dedicated people who are going to have to work very, very hard to educate people about their options.
But in the end, the choice will be ours. Come election day, we have a chance to speak clearly and decisively. Let’s do it.
And then let’s move on.
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