Off the Mainland, Cities Are Still Important: MayorTV Talks to Honolulu Mayor Mufi Hannemann
Mayor Mufi Hannemann of Honolulu has different concerns than many “mainland” mayors. Indeed, he worries about Honolulu’s role in the Asia-Pacific region (who could say the same for, say, Scranton?). And when asked about Senator McCain’s failure to address the U.S. Conference of Mayors meeting in Miami in June, unlike other mayors, Hannemann demurred, reminding MayorTV that the Arizona Senator had previously addressed the Conference’s tourism committee, which Hannemann heads.
When pressed, however, the Mayor distinguished the urban policies of the two presidential contenders and emphasized that one has a clearer overall vision for cities:
I think both presidential candidates have their strong points, but so far we’ve heard clearly from Senator Obama…how he intends to help the mayors. In essence, he says, ‘I want to be your partner. I want to be your friend.’
Indeed, Mayor Hannemann expressed distaste with Washington’s recent treatment of cities:
[Cities] have suffered for too long from inattention, from negligence, from Washington D.C.
This negligence comes at a particularly difficult time for Mayor Hannemann who is currently engaged in a pitched – and nasty – debate with a highway advocacy group about a light rail plan he has developed for Honolulu. The $3.7 billion project has received some federal funding, but the Mayor hopes for more. He told MayorTV:
What’s missing from our quality of life in Honolulu is a light rail system that can be part of an integrated, multimodal system that will enable us to connect the bus, connect bike lanes, park and rides, as well as a ferry system that we’ve started. We need help from the federal government.
Indeed, the Mayor was unequivocal in what he wants Senators Obama and McCain to speak about:
We want to hear specifically from [the presidential candidates] how they intend to help us with respect to the issues that we face in each of our cities.
Please find interviews with mayors from Richmond, Nashville, Albuquerque, and many other U.S. cities at MayorTV as we continue our summer series highlighting the need for a conversation about cities in Election ’08.