Mayoral candidates Kirk Caldwell and Ben Cayetano in Saturday’s debate before a live audience at the law school.
Image: Ikaika Hussey

Mayoral candidates Ben Cayetano and Kirk Caldwell squared off before a live audience on Sat., Oct. 6 in a debate organized by The Hawaii Independent in co-sponsorship with Radio KTUH, the League of Women Voters, and the William H. Richardson School of Law at UH Manoa. About 100 people attended. Professor Avi Soifer, dean of the law school,served as moderator in the classroom venue. Questions had been received beforehand via the web and social media.

The tit for tat between the candidates was entertaining, and it spilled into the Twittersphere, where the discussion on the hashtag #hnlmayor became an outright argument between the two camps.

The conclusion: If rail is your one issue, then your mind is already made up. But if you’re interested in anything else, there was plenty in Saturday’s debate to think about.

Below, some highlights:

Public health (in terms of the NYC ban on large soft drink sizes)

Cayetano: The city and county should be responsible for educating the public on foods.

Caldwell: Honolulu should follow San Francisco’s model by requiring labelling and disclosure of nutritional values.


Cayetano: Supports keeping Kaimana Beach a space for locals.

Caldwell: We should tear down the pool and leave the memorial to honor war veterans.


Both spoke in favor, in broad terms, of the current ‘big wind’ and undersea cable proposals, with some sort of reciprocity to the host. Surprisingly, neither argued for more self-reliance for Oahu.


Cayetano: Should build more affordable rentals for those in need.

Caldwell: Supports projects like Hoopili and Koa Ridge in order to create more housing supply, and innovative approaches like safe zones.

Climate change

Cayetano: “We should study the matter. This requires long term planning. I will do something about it.”

Caldwell: Need to remove seawalls to accommodate the moving beach lines.

It was refreshing to hear both candidates talking about climate change as a serious issue.


Caldwell: “There needs to be more county input in the process. The PLDC is in the fixing stage, not the throwing out stage. I think we can work with it.”

Cayetano: “I understand the Gov. [Abercrombie] is trying to fast track development. But I would be hard pressed to support any circumvention of the laws that meant to protect our way of life.”

The candidates also discussed multilingual access, public parks, emergency services, and solid waste. A full report is available online at [hawaiiindependent.net].

The writer is publisher of The Hawaii Independent.