Gov. Ige to be inaugurated to second term

  • Hawaii state Sen. Josh Green, left, candidate for lieutenant governor, and Hawaii Gov. David Ige wave to motorists on Nov. 6 in Honolulu. (AP Photo/Marco Garcia, File)

HONOLULU — Gov. David Ige is scheduled to be sworn in today to a second term leading Hawaii.

He’ll face tough challenges in the next four years, including addressing the state’s chronic housing and teacher shortages and large homeless population. He’s also vowed to boost local food and renewable energy production.

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Joining him will be the state’s newly elected lieutenant governor, Dr. Josh Green, an emergency room doctor and state senator from the Big Island.

The inauguration ceremony is scheduled to be held at the state Capitol in Honolulu.

Ige defeated Republican former state Rep. Andria Tupola in the Nov. 6 general election.

Ige campaigned to boost affordable housing, a key issue in a state where half of renters spend more than 30 percent of their monthly income on housing.

He has said he wants to continue the momentum generated in his first term, when Hawaii allowed state money to cover some housing infrastructure costs, which cleared the way for affordable rentals to be built.

He has touted his administration’s support of the construction of 5,300 homes during his first term and its goal to help build 10,000 units by 2020.

The state predicted in 2015 that population growth will drive the need for about 65,000 additional housing units by 2025.

Ige has said the state is pursuing the development of state land along a rail line the city of Honolulu is building to create more affordable homes.

The state aims to partner with private companies to redevelop several Honolulu public housing projects as a way to both boost public housing units and bring market priced rentals into the properties.

Hawaii also faces persistent teacher shortages.

The Hawaii State Teachers Association points out Hawaii public schools have 1,000 teacher vacancies, while the number of teachers who haven’t received teacher training has increased to 508 this school year from 473 last year.

Only 51 percent of teachers hired five years ago were still teaching at Hawaii schools this year, as teacher retention continues to decline. The figure is down from 54 percent last year.

The Ige administration will welcome new blood with Green’s swearing in. Shan Tsutsui, who was elected with Ige in 2014, resigned earlier this year. His replacement, Lt. Gov. Doug Chin, ran unsuccessfully for Congress.

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Green said he expects to take a leadership role on issues that he’s been passionate about, like chronic homelessness. He praised the progress the state has made in getting homeless off the street as part of its Housing First program. But he said Hawaii and the rest of the country have done an inadequate job in addressing what he called the “combined crisis” of mental illness, addiction and homelessness.

“Where those areas transect, that ground zero space right in the middle, is where I am somewhat expert,” Green said in an interview. “Those are the people that suffer the most, cost the most and are most visible. And that’s what I’ll take on.”