- Associated Press - Friday, October 10, 2014

HILO, Hawaii (AP) - The three major candidates for Hawaii governor agree schools should have more local control, but none of them think the statewide school district should be broken up into smaller districts.

Independent candidate Mufi Hannemann, Republican candidate Duke Aiona and Democratic candidate David Ige participated in their first Big Island debate Thursday in Hilo.

“They talk about empowering principals, but their actions don’t demonstrate it,” Ige, a state senator, said of the school board. “They need to let the community and the leader of the schools take responsibility and make the most important decisions on how the children should learn and how we could support them better.”

Former Honolulu Mayor Hannemann expressed concerns about Common Core standards, saying: “What works for New York may not work for Hawaii.”

Aiona, former lieutenant governor who has worked as substitute teacher, said he would let schools decide their own curriculum and purchase their own equipment.

The three men also agreed the state Department of Health is moving too quickly to phase out cesspools on the islands. Cesspools have been used to receive untreated wastewater.

They used the two-hour debate to offer their own pitches while making the occasional jab, Hawaii Tribune-Herald (https://ow.ly/CzRDE) reported.

Hannemann, who was vice president of C. Brewer and Company and general manager of Punaluu Sweetbread Shop, touted his Big Island connections. Aiona pledged to reduce taxes and fees and help Hawaii businesses. Ige said government should reach out to hunters and fishermen when looking at how to manage natural resources.

Aiona noted that Hannemann ran unsuccessfully as a Democrat in the last two elections before forming the Independent Party, suggesting that was done to get in the general election.

They also took time to discuss one of the most pressing issues facing the Big Island - lava flowing toward communities in the Puna district.

Aiona said the response to the disaster will require leadership. He said he played a role in responding to major disasters as lieutenant governor. Ige said the county needs to take the lead on disaster response, with the state helping with executive actions. Hannemann said the state needs to do what it can to support county officials responding to the lava flow.

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Information from: Hawaii Tribune-Herald, https://www.hawaiitribune-herald.com/

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