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Rail support a common theme for candidates

By Richard Borreca

POSTED:
LAST UPDATED: 02:40 a.m. HST, Jun 13, 2010

Hawaii's three major candidates for governor, Republican Lt. Gov. James "Duke" Aiona and Democrats Mayor Mufi Hannemann and former congressman Neil Abercrombie do agree on some things—rail, for instance.

While Hannemann is the public face of the city's rail project and successfully lobbied the Legislature to allow the county to increase the excise tax to help fund the project, both Abercrombie and Aiona back rail.

"The lieutenant governor has always supported mass transit, but concerns remain about the cost of the current rail plan and the city's ability to pay for and maintain it," Aiona's campaign said in response to a request for his position on rail.

Abercrombie also has strongly supported the city's first plans and the tax.

"Neil is concerned over the future of the rail project with a new Honolulu mayor and whether that person would have the desire or ability to see the project through," his campaign said.

On the subject of Hawaii's sputtering economy and the state budget, Abercrombie and Aiona see it differently than Hannemann, who is calling for a strategic audit of state finances and then renewed efforts to save money.

Aiona says he would "review all budgeted and appropriated project funding to prioritize contracting and spending, and accelerate infrastructure modernization plans."

Abercrombie says he would "access the hundreds of millions of unspent federal dollars that were intended to stimulate Hawaii's economy."

The issue of education has all three candidates coming up with different plans.

Hannemann says he would be the "downfield blocker" for the superintendent of education and include him or her in his Cabinet.

Aiona wants to "conduct a comprehensive, independent audit of the Department of Education," and lift the cap on the number of charter schools and increase the number of magnet schools and expand vocational education.

Abercrombie has his own plan to restructure the entire Department of Education.

"An Abercrombie administration will implement a full-scale reorganization of the school system to place decision-making authority within the school. True decentralization does not mean the creation of multiple mini-districts, but rather entrusts principals to manage their staff and resources," the campaign said.






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