From L-R, Cayetano, Carlisle, Caldwell
Image: Matthew Kain

Hosted by the Hawaii Chamber of Commerce (HCOC), the first debate of the 2012 mayoral campaign kicked off May 2 at the Plaza Club. Candidates Mayor Peter Carlisle, former Gov. Ben Cayetano and former city Managing Director Kirk Caldwell were all in attendance.

Each had his own unique reverberations, but truth is they don’t seem to disagree on much other than rail. They all seem willing and eager to rid the city of plastic bags and make housing more affordable for future generations. Also, none would explicitly pledge not to raise property taxes.

Carlisle repeatedly lauded transit-oriented development. “[It] will change the way we use our lands, create our future and build for generations to come,” he said.

“You can’t have any transit-oriented development unless you have a good sewer system,” countered Cayetano, whose platform rests mainly on fixing the city’s aging infrastructure.

Caldwell referenced vertical development in the urban core and he’s not sure how yet, but plans to let taxpayers decide what to do should the rail go overbudget. “If we don’t get the federal funds we’ve been promised or we run over budget, we take it back to the people,” he said.

The showdown will be broadcast on ‘Olelo community access television several times throughout May.