What would you ask Obama?

LIHUE — ‘Tis the season for a well-deserved respite from work and school, and like many families nationwide, the first family returned home last week for their annual winter vacation on Oahu.

But, as it turns out, questions about President Barack Obama’s tenure and initiatives weren’t far away from people’s minds, either.  

When visitors and Kauai residents were asked by The Garden Island on Christmas Eve at Kalapaki Beach what question they would ask Obama if they were to meet him during the president’s holiday break, responses ranged from critical to supportive.

Lihue resident Steven Soltysik, a maritime educator, said he would ask the president to make education a more important priority for his administration should he happen to bump into the commander-in-chief.

In the same breath, Soltysik said he would also encourage the president to visit Kauai, because “some very exciting things are happening with education.”

“Teachers on the island are working so hard and too much is coming out of their own pocket, so improving their budget would be a big help,” Soltysik said. “I care too much about education, but it is an investment in the future of our children.”

Melissa Layton, a Laguna Beach, Calif., visitor, said she is in favor the president’s initiatives and would ask how she and her family could support him.  

“I think the change is positive and I think what he’s trying to do is take us back down to the grassroots level, so the question is how can we help him get down to that basic level?” Layton said.

Her husband, Robert, said he would ask the president one question: What’s the definition of honesty?

“I would like to find out where he’s coming from,” Robert explained. “What kind of place is he coming from? Is he coming from a good place in his heart? And that’s how you come from truth — you come from a good place.”

But not everyone is on board.

Wailua resident Nina Peterson said her response to Obama is quite simple: Go back to the Mainland.

“I’m not a fan of his at all,” she explained. “He made this county go downhill so fast.”

According to a Dec. 20 press schedule released by the White House Office of the Press Secretary, no public events are scheduled during the president’s 17-day visit to the islands.

As far as any Kauai stop-overs, well, that’s not apart of the agenda — at least publicly.

He did, however, make a scheduled appearance at the University of Hawaii at Manoa’s Stan Sheriff Center on Sunday, along with first lady Michelle Obama, mother-in-law Marian Robinson, and daughters Sasha and Malia, to watch the Oregon State University versus University of Akron game for this year’s Diamond Head Classic.

The first lady’s brother, Craig Robinson, is the head men’s basketball coach at Oregon State University.

• Darin Moriki, county government reporter, can be reached at 245-0428 or dmoriki@thegardenisland.com. Follow him on Twitter at @darinmoriki.


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