Supporters often praise Gov. David Ige, 60, for his soft-spoken, humble leadership style.
Critics call him tepid. But he seemed to have found his voice Sunday at the grand opening of his campaign headquarters at 1803 N. King St. With just 182 days until the primary and a 159-day deadline until absentee ballots, Ige told about 175 supporters that he has delivered on his 2014 campaign promises. He also uncharacteristically listed them and took some credit.
“I just want people to know that we have been able to deliver,” said Ige, who began his career in public service in 1985 as a state legislator. “We’ve done a number of things that really put the state in a good position.”
In his speech Ige highlighted a half-dozen or so contributions:
- Airport modernization in Honolulu and Maui
- Traffic improvements, including increasing contra-flow and zipper lanes
- Improving the 2017 statewide homeless count, which was down 9 percent from 2016
- Providing air conditioning to 1,200 public school classrooms, making funds available for school innovation, and supporting expansion of a program that allows public school students to take college classes for credit
- Saving $1.6 billion over the next 20 years so that those that served the state can retire with dignity
Rachel Kailianu, an Ige supporter from Waianae, was impressed.
“He’s very quiet but he’s very effective,” said Kailianu, who praised Ige for providing $24 million to the Department of Hawaiian Home Lands and for cooling schools.
“Quiet but Effective” was a campaign slogan for former Gov. George Ariyoshi.
Honolulu Mayor Kirk Caldwell endorsed Ige for his humble ways and strong leadership.
“I’ve seen him make some very hard decisions,” Caldwell said. “Most elected officials don’t want to touch rail … they want to run and blame. Twice he’s given authority to extend the surcharge on the (general excise tax).
So far, Ige’s campaign has raked in more than $810,903. At the end of December his war chest was ahead of Democratic opponent U.S. Rep. Colleen Hanabusa’s collections. But her campaign has gained ground since Jan. 13, when a state employee sent out a false ballistic missile alert, plunging more than a million Hawaii residents into 38 minutes of uncertainty.
Eddie Flores Jr., founder of L&L Hawaiian Barbecue, said the missile alert fiasco is a temporary setback. Ige’s record is strong, especially in regard to rail and homelessness, Flores said.
“People will see the truth, and he’ll be able to get past it,” he said. “A lot of people respect him. They know he’s done a great job.”
Ige said Sunday that his administration has “identified and implemented the changes needed to ensure that a false missile alert never happens again.”
Ige said governors, unlike candidates, don’t get to pick and choose campaign issues. But he’s confident that he’ll be fairly judged by voters.
He also took it as a good sign that the turnout at this campaign office kickoff was larger than it was for his 2014 run.
“I have faith in the people of Hawaii and the voters,” he said.“They always make the right decision.”