A Look At My 2018 Kauai Primary Election Votes

In preparation for the final day of voting on August 11th, many in the Kauai community have been asking my thoughts on the various candidates running for office.

To make it easy, I have listed the candidates I voted for below.  I encourage all to review the candidate websites, attend the forums and contact the candidates directly to ask questions and seek additional information.

Voting in the Primary is happening today Thursday August 9th from 8am until 4pm in the Historic County Annex Building on Rice Street.  And on the very last day of August 11th at polling stations around the island.

For those who are interested I voted a few days ago for the following candidates:

Governor:  David Ige http://www.davidige.org

To a great extent this explains why I am supporting Governor Ige: https://garyhooser.blog/2018/06/21/governor-ige-leadership-core-values-and-resolve-under-pressure/

Lieutenant Governor:  Kim Coco Iwamoto https://www.kimcoco.com

Why I support Kim Coco Iwamoto https://garyhooser.blog/2018/06/07/why-gary-hooser-is-supporting-kim-coco-iwamoto-to-be-hawaiis-next-lieutenant-governor/

Kauai Mayor: JoAnn Yukimura http://joannyukimura.com

County Council: 

Mason Chock https://www.mason4kauai.org

Felicia Cowden https://www.feliciacowden.com

Adam Roversi https://electadamroversi.org

I chose to only vote for these 3 and not expend my full 7 votes. These three are the endorsed candidates of Pono Hawaii Inititiative (PHI) of which I am the executive director. Read more on the voting strategy here:  http://www.thegardenisland.com/2018/08/08/opinion/on-plunking-block-voting-and-breaking-through-the-14-mark/

2nd Congressional District Blank – No Vote

I have issues with all of the 2nd Congressional candidates on their “military” positions.  None are willing to speak in support of decreased military spending.  I believe in a strong defense but believe the United States spends far too much of our national budget on weaponry. 

State House District #15

Queenie Daligdig

https://www.facebook.com/pages/biz/political_candidate/Friends-of-Queenie-Daligdig-618028798554766/

State House District #16

Daynette “Dee” Morikawa

I do not live in District #16 but if I did, I would vote for Dee. I have found Rep. Morikawa to be a bridge builder and a professional, thoughtful legislator who does her homework and then works hard for the betterment of her community.  It is critically important that Dee be re-elected and I am asking friends who live in District #16 to help spread the word.

Oha was a tough one for me and I fee less confident making recommendations. I encourage folks to review the Sierra Club endorsements as I know they employed a thorough evaluation process and these candidates are likely strong on environmental issues as well as being strong on issues relavant to their community.

https://www.votesierraclubhawaii.com/2018-primary-endorsements/2018/6/22/and-the-endorsees-are 

Also you might want to consult with other friends active in the Hawaiian community to get their input.  If you are not sure, simply leave it blank.  Please do not just guess or choose based on simply name familiarity.

Good luck!  gh

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Waiting for the shoe to drop. Expect attacks as they will be coming.

When we set out to rock the boat, we should expect to get wet. 

History tells us that when a power structure is threatened by change they may not be able to control, they will do “whatever is necessary” to retain that power.  And in the arena of government and politics, when the potential disruption of power involves a multi-billion dollar budget and fundamental changes to public policy, “whatever is necessary” is a description that knows no bounds.

Such is the nature of any serious quest to disrupt the status quo and create systemic change at the Hawaii state legislature.

And that my friends is what we are doing.

In these final days leading up to the critical August 11th primary day, there is already evidence that the entrenched powers are pushing back. The messages of anger and implied threats of retaliation against us have evolved from a faint murmur of irritation, to now tangible expressions of acrimony.  Those pesky, inevitable and intractable things called “screen shots”, capture the words, thoughts and threats in text message, email and on Facebook.

So it behooves us to be prepared.  During these final 7 days anything can happen.  No doubt those on the other side will at a minimum begin throwing even more money on their candidates, in a last minute attempt to turn back our momentum.

Yes, that inevitable negative “hit piece” is even now in the mail heading our way. You can bet also that daily there are also attempts to “plant negative stories” in the local media. As that fails, these same stories will then leak out into social media and fake news sources, attempting to spread rumor and innuendo.

We should know that it is coming, but we should also not let it distract us from winning on August 11th. To be clear, it is too late for negative attacks to have much of an impact as over 1/2 of the vote has already been cast.

So long as we remain focused, keep our eye on the prize and push hard all the way through the tape – on August 11th we will win.

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The Voter Non-Voter Conundrum

I often find myself wondering how I can get the attention of the non-voter.  Should I yell, or beg or attempt to shame them?  Should I tell them their vote really does matter even though nothing ever seems to change?  Should I tell them that all politicians are not crooked and many do truly care about the future of our community?

Or should I just ignore their cynicism, accept their ambivalence and speak to the people who do vote?

This is the question every person running for office must ask themselves.  Do I spend my limited time and resources speaking to non-voters, or to people that vote?

There is a fundamental rule of politics that goes something like this: “No matter how smart you are, no matter how hard you work and no matter how good you are in your heart, you cannot serve in public office without first getting elected.”

So, the answer of course seems obvious.  Candidates primarily focus on those who actually show up at the polls and vote.  Statistically this means old people, government workers, higher income demographics, and other specific groups with a defined history of regular voting.

Young people, low to moderate income earners, and new residents have the worst voting records of any demographic.  Consequently, they often get less attention from candidates. and less attention when it comes to public policy support and public funding priorities.

If low to moderate income earners voted in large numbers, affordable housing would be a mandate and not a political talking point that never seems to rise to the top of the priority list.  If young people became engaged and started voting in large numbers, our schools would be properly funded and there would be universal access made available to all residents who wanted to pursue a higher education.

If history repeats itself, which it normally does, the results of the 2018 Primary election that ends on August 11th, will be decided by only 30% of the voting population.

30% of the voting population will decide who makes the first cut for election to our County Council, and for the Mayor’s race.  State legislative races will begin and end at the Primary level, because there is no functioning Republican Party fielding candidates at the legislative level.  Some would say, WUWT?

The office of the Governor and the Lieutenant Governor will also to a great extent be determined in this upcoming Primary.

It is an inaccurate statement to say that the Primary will be decided by the 30% who vote.  The truth is that the 70% who choose to ignore the Primary election and stay home, are the ones really making the decision.

Please know that your vote can make a difference.  After running in 10 elections myself over the past 20 years, winning six and losing four, I know very clearly and sometimes painfully so, that every vote does indeed count.

The 2018 Primary election concludes on August 11th, but early voting is happening now!  Regardless of where you live in the State, you can vote now through August 9th, Monday through Saturday from 8am until 4pm.

For all statewide early voting locations – click here: https://elections.hawaii.gov/voters/early-voting/

Do a little homework, search out information about the candidates, ask your friends and neighbors for their thoughts, then exercise your civic duty and vote.

If you are not registered to vote, that is not a problem either.  Simply bring in your Hawaii driverʻs license and they will register you on the spot and you can vote at the same time.

Those of you who are regular voters, please spread the word and encourage your friends, neighbors, and family members to vote early as well.

We are responsible for the quality of our government leadership.  By voting we take active ownership of that responsibility.  By not voting we are being neglectful and have no one to blame except ourselves for the conduct of our government and the condition of our community.

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Campaign Strategy, Status and Needs – 16 days left to win on August 11th

16 days from now the primary election will be over, and membership in the State House and Senate will be selected. To a great degree, the budget and policy direction of our State legislature will be set for the next two years.

Many of us, on every island, have been working and pushing very hard to support a wide selection of excellent candidates who have stepped up to serve.

It’s time for the last and final push. The candidates cannot let up, and neither can we.

The Pono Hawaii Initiative (PHI) has endorsed and is aggressively supporting, 6 candidates for the Senate, and 8 for the House. https://ponohawaiiinitiative.org/endorsements/

All 14 are extremely electable, values centered, highly competent individuals, and all are campaigning hard in their districts.

If all were elected, that would without exaggeration turn the Hawaii State Legislature on its head. The days of big money and special interests controlling both budget and policy, would be greatly diminished.

Hawaii could then finally pass living wage and family leave legislation. Hawaii’s environment would receive the protections it deserves.  Affordable housing and education would be properly funded.  And the price tag would be paid by the restructuring of priorities and the shifting of the tax burden to the visitor industry and the top 1%.

These 14 all know very well that if we can find the money to fund rail, certainly we can find the money to fund education and affordable housing.

From my direct experience serving in the Hawaii State Senate for 8 years, 4 of which were as Majority Leader, I know even small numbers matter.  The truth is that any one of these candidates could as an individual, change the dynamics and alter the conversation of the legislative body to which they are elected.  Such is the nature of group dynamics at the legislature.  One person, can make a difference.

PHI working with non-coordinating partners across the State has already supported multiple direct mailings in support of many of these candidates, and we are now preparing to send out our last and final mailer consisting of over 30,000 targeted pieces.

However to complete this last element of our primary election strategy, we need to raise an additional $15,000.  Otherwise, that last piece will not be mailed.

Can you help?  In order for us to meet the printer deadline and get something in the mail in time to have an impact, the funds must be received prior to Monday July 30th.   All contributions, large and small are important and all will help.

If we fall short of our $15,000 goal we will scale back our effort. Our hope and goal of course is to exceed the goal, and do even more during these final days.  Contributions can be made online at:

https://ponohawaiiinitiative.org/donate/

or via mail at:

Pono Hawaiʻi Initiative

P.O. Box 871

Honolulu, HI 96808

Please help if you can.  Time is of the essence, and contributions must be received by Monday July 30th in order to impact the primary election and support this final push.

Sincerely,

Gary Hooser – Executive Director, Pono Hawaii Initiative (PHI)

IMPORTANT NOTE:

One of PHI’s endorsed candidates, Representative Matt LoPresti who is running for election to the Senate is being challenged by Alicia Maluafiti, a corporate lobbyist who was the former executive director for the Hawaii Crop Improvement Association (Monsanto, Dow, DuPont, Syngenta etc).  Needless to say she has been a strong opponent to any and all legislation that has been proposed to regulate the chemical companies. Clearly, the industry is targeting LoPresti for his support of Bill 3095 (banning chlorpyrifos) and attempting to send a message to other legislators, that if successful would have a chilling effect on our future attempts to regulate this industry.

We need to work especially hard to support Matt LoPresti who supported us when we needed him.  We cannot let the chemical companies win, and effectively punish a legislator for his support of legislation that regulates their industry.

Please help if you can:  https://ponohawaiiinitiative.org/donate/

*As always – I extend an open invitation to anyone who wants to meet in person, or on the telephone – just email me and we can set up a time that works for both of us.  gh

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Broken News: Kauai residents allowed to choose on removing term limits, but not on increasing affordable housing

Today will be a potpourri of housing policy and politics, relating to issues before the Kauai County Council.

The 3% for affordable housing proposed charter amendment that was introduced by Councilmember JoAnn Yukimura was shot down this past Wednesday by the Council majority.  It is interesting that Councilmember Ross Kagawa believes that voters are smart enough to remove term limits for him and his colleagues, but not smart enough to vote on budget priorities.  I found the argument made “that the setting of budget priorities is beyond the scope of regular voters” was a bit disingenuous.  In the past voters chose to create an “open space fund” via this same process.  This fund has been enormously successful, and has not adversely impacted the budget process one iota.

The question of whether this type of initiative should be done “by ordinance” or “by charter amendment”, is a valid one.  The ordinance is a route that allows for more budget flexibility and does in fact, at first glance, seem the more sensible route to take.  However the reality is that future councils may or may not place funding of affordable housing as a priority, and consequently there may or may not be the funds available for housing on a year to year basis.  More importantly, the “ordinance route” is not a “dedicated funding stream” which is needed to support the floating of long-term low interest bonds necessary to do large projects.

Dedicating 3% of property taxes to funding affordable housing via a charter amendment, would give the County instant access to over 50 million dollars that could be used tomorrow to begin a major affordable housing project (or projects).  Working in partnership with private non-profit affordable housing developers, and utilizing other federal and state matching funds, it is not unreasonable that this amount could double or triple via further leveraging.  In other words, Kauai could increase its affordable housing inventory significantly during our lifetime.

A budget ordinance may give the County Housing Agency 4 million dollars in any given year (based on the current proposal) if the Council during a given year, decides that housing is a priority.

So, the people can choose a path that grants them access to 50 million dollars today for affordable housing, or take a chance that future councils may or may not budget drips and drabs of funding.

Oh wait, the people will not have a choice, because the council voted down the measure and will not allow the matter to be on the ballot.  But you will be given the opportunity to choose to remove the existing term limits for councilmembers, and allow them to serve in perpetuity.

On other matters relating to housing: At the regular Wednesday meeting on August 18th, the Council will be discussing and voting on the up-zoning of Rice Street initiative introduced by Councilmember Brun (Bill 2687).

The broad scope of the testimony given during last week’s Public Hearing was thoughtful and consistent.  In general the testimony was in support of giving property owners the benefit of doubling their allowable density, IF there were measures in place to ensure that the increased density would be used for affordable housing.  It will be interesting if the Council acknowledges this important element, totally lacking now in the proposed ordinance.

Actually it’s bit worse than that.  The proposal now on the table does not even mention the word affordable in its existing language.

My complements to the increasing number of citizens getting involved in the process and showing up at the Council meetings. Please know that your voice is important, and please continue showing up. Bring a friend or neighbor with you next time. Or at the minimum, send an email to the council at: counciltestimony@kauai.gov

It’s call civic engagement.  And to create and preserve the future our children and grandchildren deserve, we need more of it.

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Kauaʻi Council Brings Christmas Early To Rice Street

With the passage of Bill 2687 the Kauaʻi County Council seems poised to gift millions of dollars of increased property values to a relatively small number of owners located in Lihuʻe along Rice Street with “no strings attached”.  Land owners could get their density allotments doubled which doubles the number of homes/units they are entitled to build on their property, but there is no mandate for a reciprocal public benefit requirement.

They apparently are not required to do anything at all in return for the largess of the Council and could literally sell their property the day after this is signed into law and reap the profits, without turning a single shovel full of dirt.

Following todayʻs, Wednesday July 11th Council meeting is a Public Hearing on Bill 2687 introduced by Councilmember Arthur Brun.  Testimony may be made in person at 1:30pm at the Historic County Building or via email at counciltestimony@kauai.gov

Please read the actual Bill here: https://tinyurl.com/y9bonclf

The measure is framed as an initiative that will help alleviate the Kauaʻi housing shortage, but unless it is significantly amended it is appears to be just a gift to the landowners on Rice Street.

First in the warm and fuzzy section, Bill 2687 states:

“Findings and Purpose. The Council of the County of Kauaʻi finds that there is an urgent need to address the shortage of available housing units on Kauaʻi.”

Then finally when you get to the meat of the measure Bill 2687 states:

“By increasing the upper limit of the Residential Zoning designation for the Rice Street Neighborhood Design District from R-20 to R-40, the infill development capacity for creating a significantly greater number of residential density factors within the LIhuʻe urban town core will essentially be doubled.”

Most who study and seek answers to Kauaʻi’s ongoing affordable housing crisis, agree that increasing density in Lihuʻe is a key piece of the puzzle.  But granting a windfall profit to property owners without obtaining a reciprocal commitment to fulfill the need to actually build affordable units for local residents is selling our community short.

I have written in the past, and I will repeat it again here:

“The invisible hand makes them do it.  Without government serving as a counter balance, the invisible hand of free enterprise drives all development to sell to the highest bidder.  More homes built for the market do not create more affordable housing.  The trickle down theory does not work.”

The Council will hopefully amend this measure to require the development of affordable (clearly defined) units (for sale or rent), in return for the increased density that is being granted.  Hopefully also they will put in place a clear time line to motivate the landowners to take action soon and certainly within a stated time period of say, 5 years.

Yes, the private property owners must earn a profit in return for their effort and risk, and yes government must provide incentives for the development of affordable housing.  But it is reasonable and necessary that the Council act in the publics best interest by putting in requirements to ensure that affordable housing is indeed constructed in return for the benefit granted.

Otherwise, this is just a gift to the landowners along Rice Street.

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Meet me on the barricades. Let’s do this.

For those of us focused on bringing about a political revolution in Hawaii, that time has arrived.

All the essential elements are in place.

  • There is a wide array of solid, qualified candidates on every island who share our values of economic, environmental and social justice. They are running strong campaigns and they can win.
  • We have established a strong, state-wide, grass-roots network of citizens and like-minded organizations who are more aligned and more connected than ever before.
  • The recent wins at the State Legislature prove that when our community is engaged, focused and involved in making change happen, it does indeed occur.
  • People are energized and motivated.

We have an opportunity before us to change the nature of politics and government in Hawaii for decades to come.

But the candidates need our help now.

On Maui, Kauai, the Big Island and through-out Oahu PHI has endorsed high quality, values centered candidates, that can win. 

But the clock is ticking and it’s time now to step up our game. Absentee ballots are being mailed “as we speak” (which represent about 50% of the vote), and August 11th, the final day to cast your vote for the all important primary election is less than 30 days away.

The Primary Election is everything.  The Republican Party is pretty much non-existent in Hawaii and consequently almost every state legislative race will be over with August 11th.

What do candidates need?

  1. Boots on the ground – Candidates need your help holding signs and knocking on doors.  This is where your help is most needed.
  2. Social Media Boosts – Please “like” and “share” the candidates FaceBook postings thus helping to increase their visibility online.
  3. Money – Every candidate needs funding, especially at this crucial moment (between now and July 20) as they put together last minute absentee mailings and their final push toward the finish line.  $20, $50, and $100 contributions – all are welcome.

Yes, the much needed political revolution in Hawaii can happen.  The pieces are all in place, but to take it all the way we must work very hard for the next 3 weeks.

We must hold nothing back.

The Pono Hawaii Initiative (PHI), also needs your help.  100% of contributions received between now and July 20th will go toward direct but non-coordinated candidate support. Contributions of any amount are welcome and much needed. Donate online here: https://ponohawaiiinitiative.org/donate/

As the Executive Director for PHI, I welcome calls or emails from those of you who want to step up and help, and perhaps need more information.  I am happy also to meet in person, on any island at any time.

Thank you so very much to all who have already stepped up to help.  For the next few weeks, I will continue pushing as hard as is humanly possible, and I trust and hope that you will join me.

Winning means Hawaii will be a better place and our children will live in a better world.

Let’s do this.

Sincerely,

Gary Hooser

Notes on just a few of the PHI endorsed candidates:

On Oahu, Ikaika Hussey is running for the Honolulu City Council. His singular presence on that body without exaggeration will have a significant impact for the better.  Check out his really, cool website – read about his vision for Honolulu’s future.

For Kauai County Council, PHI has endorsed 3 very strong, value centered and integrity based candidates –
Felicia Cowden  Adam Roversi Mason Chock
Read more about the process here: 

Take a moment and watch a short introductory video by Kauai Council Candidate Felicia Cowden.

Maui candidate for the State House, Tiare Lawrence also has a short video you might enjoy watching.

NOTE: The statement above represents my personal opinion, is sent to my personal email list and written on my own time on a Saturday morning. My words, are simply my words and do not represent the official position of any organization. In addition, no candidate has approved or is even aware of this message prior to it being sent.

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