w Editor’s note: This is part two of a two-part talk story with Gov. David Ige.
The Garden Island met with Gov. David Ige last week through a Zoom call, and was told any question goes, but we had only 20 minutes with him.
Freedom of press: Senators Brian Schatz (D-Hawai‘i) and Todd Young (R-Ind.), introduced new legislation to protect journalists and promote press freedoms around the world. What are your thoughts on that?
I think freedom of the press is really, really important. I mean, it’s a bedrock of democracy, and has been throughout our history are such an important part of holding government and elected officials accountable. So I continue to believe that. I do think that one of the challenges today is that everybody has a megaphone, and everybody can be a journalist, right?
I mean, the technology allows anybody to be a blogger and be able to post them. I think one of the challenges is really identifying real journalists, websites or news sites that embrace fully the whole notion of impartial, unbiased reporting, which is the foundation of journalism.
Versus just the bloggers and those that have a bias and reporting on activities that are happening. And I do think that that’s one of the biggest challenges of this era. With social media being so widely available, everyone has a megaphone, being able to identify those that may be providing balanced and unbiased reports from those who have an agenda is getting more and more difficult for the general public.
The lawmaking branch: Do you have any regrets about the legislative session?
I always continue to work to serve the public in general, you know, and I recognize that we have disagreements from time to time. But you know, I’m committed. I understand the role of the Legislature. They do set policy. Even in those areas that they overrode my veto. As governor, now I am required to implement the law. We are committed to doing that in the best way possible to serve the public.
Education: Teachers’ bonuses got vetoed. If you could, would you give a bonus to our hard-working teachers?
I know that many public servants across our state and county governments have really stepped forward during this pandemic. Many have worked overtime without getting paid.
I think that public servants understand that during this crisis, the demand for government services really is higher than others. So, I’ve looked at teachers getting bonuses with all the public servants who have really stepped to the challenge.
I wish that we were in better financial condition, and then we could consider that. But we will be looking at all public servants and trying to see what the state can afford, even though I know many have really provided service above and beyond.
Historical places: Coco Palms is about to be auctioned. However, with climate change and water erosion happening over there by the highway, what do you think we should do with it?
I think that facility has really struggled for so many years, first being devastated by the hurricane, and then, not really being able to get cleaned up and renovated, like so many other facilities. I’m hopeful that whoever purchases the facilities can really renovate it in a way that would add value to the Hawai‘i community.
We need housing for residents and, it could be turned into affordable rentals, or if there are investors wanting to reopen it as a hotel, that would provide jobs for the community.
I’m supportive of whoever acquires the property in working with them to really look at what the needs of Kaua‘i are. We are hoping that we can make progress in whether it’s affordable housing or shelters for homelessness or whatever the purchaser might want to do. It is definitely sad to see such an important asset being wasted for so many years.
Getting personal: Why did you run for governor? What is your vision for our state? Are we getting close to it? And who is Gov. David Ige?
For me, I have been focused on restoring faith and trusting the government, as one of the reasons I ran for governor. I felt that too many decisions were being made on behalf of special interests rather than the public interest. And I’ve been committed to really remind myself that I’m a public servant.
And I am committed to making decisions that benefit the general public, all across the board. And the second priority, or the second focus area, is — I do have three children. And right now, they are all working on the mainland. I’m committed to creating a thriving Hawai‘i, right?
Ensuring that our young people have the career opportunities, the job opportunities, be able to find and afford a home so that they can choose to call Hawaii home. That’s really important. And that touches a lot of the priorities, a lot of things that we talked about.
The whole notion that people find that they are unable to afford to live in a way that they don’t have the career opportunities that excite them. I’m committed to creating a Hawai‘i that the next generation can choose to call home and find fulfillment in.
Leadership style: What is your type of leadership? How do you stay calm?
I am just a very collaborative person. I don’t see value in creating drama or conflict. My parents kind of taught me that. If you don’t have anything good to say about somebody you should not say anything at all.
I don’t like talking negatively or badly about people, even those I disagree with. I try and be respectful in the disagreement, and I always am committed to doing the right thing at the right time for the right reasons. That’s the kind of philosophy that drives my governorship. It is about serving the public and making decisions that benefit the public.
This story has been edited on July 19 at 9:18 a.m. for accuracy.
Stephanie Shinno, education and business reporter, can be reached at 245-0424 or firstname.lastname@example.org.