Hawaii News Debates appear doubtful as Tsutsui cites conflicts By B.J. Reyes July 20, 2014 Mahalo for supporting Honolulu Star-Advertiser. Enjoy this free story! CRAIG T. KOJIMA / CKOJIMA@STARADVERTISER.COMLt. Gov. Shan Tsutsui Read more Mahalo for reading the Honolulu Star-Advertiser! You're reading a premium story. Read the full story with our Print & Digital Subscription. Subscribe Now Read this story for free: Watch an ad or complete a survey Log In Already a subscriber? Log in now to continue reading this story. Activate Digital Account Print subscriber but without online access? Activate your Digital Account now. Lt. Gov. Shan Tsutsui is unlikely to appear at any public forums or debates with his top Democratic challenger, state Sen. Clayton Hee, before the Aug. 9 primary election due to scheduling conflicts. At least three joint appearances were in the works this month — on Hawaii Public Radio, PBS Hawaii’s "Insights" and a candidate forum with the Kona Chamber of Commerce — but Tsutsui said last week his work, campaign and travel schedules would not accommodate any of the meetings. "I guess it’s just one of those running-out-of-time kind of matters," Tsutsui said, noting he already had planned to spend the final week leading up to the election on a campaign tour of the neighbor islands. "I think, at this point, it might be pretty hard. In terms of scheduling, it seems like every day there’s something." Hee expressed frustration and disappointment for not only himself — because he wanted a face-to-face interaction and debate with his former Senate colleague — but for the public as well. "The voters are the big losers," Hee said Friday. "There’s so few opportunities for incumbents and challengers to meet that every effort should be taken to provide the public with making an informed vote." John Hart, chairman of the communications department at Hawaii Pacific University and a former debate coach, agreed, noting that a formal debate may be the only part of our modern political system that would be recognized by the founding fathers. "Political debates, despite all their problems with format, are the public’s last, best chance to see behind the advertisements, the pseudo-events and the infomercials, to really get a sense of who the candidates are," Hart said. "Any time we don’t debate, it’s a disservice to the public who’s trying to make an informed decision on who to vote for." Hee noted the lieutenant governor has been in office the same amount of time as his predecessor, U.S. Sen. Brian Schatz, whom Tsutsui succeeded after Schatz was appointed to replace the late U.S. Sen. Daniel Inouye in December 2012. Schatz has had five debates with his challenger, U.S. Rep. Colleen Hanabusa. "So Schatz is saying, ‘Hey, this is what I’ve done in 18 months as your U.S. senator.’ Tsutsui should do the same," Hee said. Despite the lack of debates, Tsutsui said he believes voters should have enough information to make an informed choice. "We’ve been trying to respond to as many different questionnaires as we can," he said. "And each community group seems to have its own website with our positions on different issues so people can do that side-by-side comparison. We’ve done a number of things, including recordings for public access TV on all of the different islands and so forth. "So I believe there’s ample information out there." Hart agreed that there is plenty of information available on every candidate. "On the other hand," he added, "it’s not the same as seeing them interact, seeing them ask each other questions, seeing what they believe when pressed on public policy positions and getting a sense of who they are as people." Also running as Democrats are state medical board member Sam Puletasi, lifeguard and real estate investor Miles Shiratori and former TV reporter Mary Zanakis. Previous Story Newswatch Next Story You row girl!