Friday, November 27, 2015         


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Hannemann is a proven, visionary leader

By Ropeti Ale


Ed Case's inflammatory mischaracterization of Mufi Hanne- mann veered its ugly head again into a very spirited debate last week.

During his recent endorsement of Hannemann's chief opponent, former Congressman Neil Abercrombie, Case called the former Honolulu mayor "the most dangerous politician in a generation" for being a "product and a clear choice of a political machine that must end."

I know Mufi Hannemann as an honorable man and a visionary leader who is very passionate about Hawaii's future.

Mufi Hannemann has accomplished something every struggling parent in Hawaii would love to see in his or her child: leave home, go to college, return safely and then aspire to make a meaningful contribution to our community.

Hannemann had been an outstanding community leader, an inspirational speaker and a respected business executive long before he became the top official in City Hall.

As Honolulu mayor, Hannemann led a process to confront some of Oahu's most daunting problems during the worst recession in our nation's history. They ranged from roads, trash, sewage, public safety, homelessness, limited budget, unemployment and severe traffic congestion.

Central to his efforts was the controversial rail transit project. No doubt the rail project will define his tenure as Honolulu mayor, but most important was the will and visionary leadership qualities he displayed in advancing the project close to reality.

Hannemann was bold. He made tough decisions and took risks in mobilizing resources to revitalize the economy, create jobs and earn both government and community support. He ruffled a few feathers and suffered the indignity of being called names by those who disagreed with him.

Critics may decline to credit him with the successful completion of rail when it finally happens. But they cannot deny the fact he advanced it in a way never done before in both city and state government.

The rail transit project also highlighted Mufi Hannemann's position in Hawaii as a foot soldier in the campaign for change.

People of Hawaii deserve a clean election devoid of malaise and other indignities of the plantation era. The debates thus far between Mufi Hannemann and Neil Abercrombie have been a brilliant display of political wrangling with a lot of respect between the two men as they argue their cases. The crucial issue in my view is not leadership voters can trust; the issue is proven visionary leadership.

Historically, the Democratic Party, with Ben Cayetano as governor, got swept out of power in a wave of change partly fueled by anger and discontent. Voters felt their faith had been betrayed by the status quo and the "political machine."

Today, eight years after voters entrusted their treasured faith in the Republican Party and Gov. Linda Lingle, it's not unreasonable to conclude that Hawaii voters are once again being betrayed on significant visionary leadership issues: school furloughs, Superferry, civil unions and rail.

Anyone can be a leader or a collaborator. But it takes special talents and unique qualities to have the aspirations and foresight to be a visionary leader.

This election is critical to the future of the Democratic Party and the state of Hawaii. Voters need more than just a leader who promises change and trust. They deserve a proven visionary leader they can entrust with their faith. Only then will it be possible for Hawaii to realize its full potential.

Ropeti Ale, a political science graduate of University of Hawaii at Hilo, is a Pearl City resident. He is a former editor of the Samoa Observer newspaper.


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