The first live debates among Hawai‘i County mayoral candidates took place Thursday, June 25, 2020. The debates were hosted by BigIslandPulse.com and were broadcast live on the digital publication’s website and social media including BigIslandPulse.com, Facebook, and Instagram. In addition, the debates aired live on Nā Leo TV, Channel 54. All 15 of the candidates running for the office of Hawai‘i County Mayor participated.
“BigIslandPulse.com is proud to provide all candidates the opportunity to participate in these mayoral debates. We are especially excited that we are able to bring this event to Hawai‘i Island residents in a live, televised format, even with the special accommodations that we have had to make in light of the challenges that come from hosting a live event during the current pandemic,” BigIslandPulse.com Publisher/Owner Kristen Thario said.
The debates were divided into two time periods with two different “pods” of candidates in each period. The separation was an unavoidable necessity and the only way that the debates could be broadcast live while maintaining social distancing required by the state. Candidates were divided up using a private poll that ranked each candidate according to their popularity, campaign visibility, and performance at previous mayoral forums. In an effort to make the groupings fair, candidates were given the opportunity to submit questions to candidates in the other pod, which were read by panelists. Donalyn Dela Cruz served as debate moderator.
Part 1 (Pod 1) consisted of the following candidates: Paul Bryant, Yumi Kawano, Lahi Verschuur, Mike Ruggles, Mikey Glendon, Ted Shaneyfelt, Robert Greenwell, and Wendell Ka‘ehu‘ae‘a.
Part 2 (Pod 2) consisted of the following candidates: Stacy Higa, Neil Azevedo, Harry Kim, Ikaika Marzo, Tante Urban, Bob Fitzgerald, and Mitch Roth.
The broadcasts will be available on BigIslandPulse.com’s website and social media channels through the end of the election.
Podium location and placement in the debate rotation were drawn at random once all candidates in each pod arrive at the studio. The debates start with brief candidate introductions, followed by questions from the panel, then questions from the other candidates, and ending with each candidate offering their closing remarks.