KAILUA-KONA — Candidates for the Hawaii’s highest office are headed to Kailua-Kona this week for a forum in advance of the gubernatorial primary scheduled for Aug. 11.
Presented by the Kona-Kohala Chamber of Commerce and Community Forums, the event will run from 5:30-8 p.m. Friday at the Kealakehe High School Cafeteria, located off Ane Keohokalole Highway at 74-5000 Puohulihuli St.
Sherry Bracken, of Mahalo Broadcasting and Hawaii Public Radio, will moderate the forum, which is co-sponsored by Kohala Coast Resort Association, League of Women Voters, West Hawaii Association of Realtors and West Hawaii Today.
It will feature gubernatorial incumbent Gov. David Ige and his Democratic primary challenger, U.S. Rep. Colleen Hanabusa. From the Republican side will be candidates John Carroll and Andria Tupola.
“The forum is to provide our community an opportunity to meet the candidates and hear their stances on issues important to West Hawaii,” said Wendy Laros, executive director of the Kona-Kohala Chamber of Commerce.
Bracken, Community Forums and the chamber’s Governmental Affairs Committee have collaboratively crafted questions for candidates, though additions can be suggested by the public if sent in advance to firstname.lastname@example.org.
One area Bracken said will receive particular focus is the impact of the current Kilauea volcano eruption on the Hawaii Island economy, both in the immediate and in the long-term.
Before gubernatorial candidates take to the stage at 6 p.m., candidates running for Lieutenant Governor will get a half an hour to push their platforms to West Hawaii voters.
State Sens. Josh Green of Hawaii Island and Will Espero of Oahu will attend alongside fellow Democratic candidates Bernard Carvalho Jr., Kauai’s mayor, and Kim Coco Iwamoto. Republican Jeremy Low will also be in attendance Friday.
As of Monday, the forum in Kailua-Kona is the only complete forum set for the Big Island before the August primary.
Patti Cook, president of the Waimea Community Association, which will host a similar forum from 5-8 p.m. Thursday at the Waimea School Cafeteria, confirmed that Hanabusa recently pulled out of the North Hawaii event, citing a need to be present in Washington D.C. for a vote in the U.S. House of Representatives.
Hawaii Island Chamber of Commerce also traditionally hosts gubernatorial candidate forums, but president Bill Walter confirmed there is no concrete date for such an event this year.
“We’ve not yet given up but we’ve had difficulty trying to line up all the major candidates at the same time,” he said.