Lt. Gov. candidates discuss tourism issues at public forum
Five democratic candidates for Lieutenant Governor met in a forum Friday at the Prince Waikiki Hotel, talking tourism.
What's the upside to being Lieutenant Governor? Some see it as an office with few responsibilities and little or no power but the five Democratic candidates running for LG in this year's Primary Election want to change that.
Kauai Mayor Bernard Carvalho, former Board of Education member Kim Coco Iwamoto and State Senators Will Espero, Josh Green and Jill Tokuda, took part in a public forum on tourism Friday.
Kim Coco Iwamoto wants to be a Lieutenant Governor for the people, opening doors to public input and concerns. Just like her opponent, Bernard Carvalho.
"It's been truly wasted, a wasted opportunity and wasted space. Not many people realize that the Lieutenant Governor's office is the same exact size as the Governor's office. So I want to throw open the doors, open it up to the community," Iwamoto said.
"I'm supporting the governor but at the same time, the people need a place to come be heard, be connected," Carvalho said.
Jill Tokuda strikes a similar theme...
"The people elect you and it's your responsibility to make sure that when you step into that office, that you reflect the voices of those 1.4 million people that are counting on you to be their voice and their champion," she said.
Josh Green plans to lean on his medical background.
"Without a clear description of the governorship, that's what I'm describing it as, an opportunity to work on the healthcare crisis and homeless crisis in our state and the opioid crisis where there's just far too many pills being consumed," Green said.
Will Espero wants to truly be a governors right-hand man.
"If a governor is not inviting the Lieutenant Governor to his or her meetings, then there's something wrong," Espero said.
At the Hawaii Lodging and Tourism Association's forum Friday, the candidates were asked tourism-specific questions like if they support raising the minimum wage to $15 an hour, if they believe in regulating vacation rentals and how many tourists is too many. But will the next LG even touch these issues?
"They get the question all the time 'what would you do when you're lieutenant governor' and part of that depends on a large part what the governor allows you to do," Neal Milner, political analyst said.
Milner says the LG essentially did whatever the governor assigned them in the past, or took over when the governor wasn't around. But the actual role is "totally undefined."
Milner says past LGs used the position to improve image and credibility and as a stepping stone towards a higher goal.
"The main reason you'd want to run for it is you want to be governor," Milner said.
Primary election day is August 11.