Two Sundays Ago In The Park …

Gubernatorial candidate Mufi Hannemann  PHOTO COURTESY MUFI HANNEMANN

Gubernatorial candidate Mufi Hannemann


Mufi Hannemann’s gubernatorial campaign recently competed with a sunset. Any sunset offers stiff competition, but a “Waianae Sunset on the Beach” can steal the show from any politician, even one as formidable as the former mayor of Honolulu.

But Hannemann’s campaign put up a fight. Stew, rice and tossed salad were on the menu, and a quintet played Hawaiian music. Twenty-five supporters lined up along Farrington Highway in front of Maili Beach Park. They held “Mufi for Governor” signs and waved at passing motorists.

The candidate waved as well. Hannemann’s hard to miss. The former Iolani School and Harvard University basketball center measures 6-foot-6. Years of leaning to shake the hands of voters have bent him slightly, but he still towers.

Earlier in the day, Hannemann made two converts at a New Hope Leeward gubernatorial forum. Mona and Jerry Burrell drove directly from New Hope to Hannemann’s beach park rally. The Burrells are concerned about the national Common Core and DOE’s Pono Choice sex-education curriculum.

“The Common Core is going to affect all of us,” said Mona Burrell, “and it’s a dangerous, dangerous thing.” Added husband Jerry, “The Common Core is Pono Choice on steroids.”

At the New Hope forum, the Burrells felt Republican Duke Aiona side-stepped questions about Common Core, but that “Mufi came out against both of them.” (Democrat and Buddhist David Ige didn’t attend.)

Ewa Garcia and husband Romeo sat with a half-dozen Filipino neighbors. Why does she support Hannemann?

“Mufi has the experience,” she replies. “The executive experience. Not just judicial or legislative.

“And he knows what’s best for us Filipinos. He’s been to the Philippines seven times. I don’t think his opponents have ever been there.”

With the food served and the sun set, Independent lieutenant governor candidate Les Chang rose to introduce his running mate. An Air Force veteran, Chang served as director of Parks and Recreation in Mayor Hannemann’s administration. Before deferring to his former boss, Chang describes the parks department’s successful efforts to reclaim Maili Beach Park and 12 others along the Waianae Coast from trash, graffiti and the homeless.

Then it was Hannemann’s turn.

Clad in aloha shirt, lei, glasses and baseball cap, Hannemann took the microphone and began walking through the crowd, shaking hands and singing a spirited Ka Leo O Ka Manu. His audience sang and clapped along.

Hannemann reminded all that, in 2004, after trailing the late Duke Bainum for mayor, the Waianae precincts reported, putting him over by a mere 1,300 votes: “I’m here to ask Waianae to hana hou one more time.”

Then he presented his case: “As mayor, we left the city better than we found it. H-power — we started it. The voters said they wanted curbside recycling. We worked with the unions, tested it in selected neighborhoods, then adopted it. We fixed the infrastructure, the stuff that’s underground.”

On a Hannemann governor-ship: “I just want the best. A team of all-stars. I’ll ask Abercrombie people to stay if they’re doing a good job. I’ll put people first, before party. That’s what’s missing today.

“No one can do it alone. I’ll work collaboratively. I want to form a Hawaii council of leaders that will include all the mayors and the governor working together.”

He’d also look to public-private partnerships “to bring back the interisland ferry. Right now people are at the mercy of air fares. The ferry would help families, schoolkids and small businesses.”

And so it went, on into the Waianae night.