After an exhaustive review of almost every race for every office in the state of Hawaii, the below list represents my final statewide endorsement suggestions for the 2020 Hawaii primary election and includes candidates for both State, County, and Federal offices. 90% of the candidates I am endorsing, I know personally. All, I believe are share the core values of economic, social, and environmental justice – Hawaii Candidates putting people and the planet above corporate profits.
There are 19 candidates running for the State House, each of whom if elected could make a huge difference – both to their community and to Hawaii as a whole. If I have not listed a race this means either the incumbent is unopposed, or I do not have sufficient information on the candidates.
If all or even a majority were elected, it would fundamentally change the nature of the Hawaii legislature. Imagine – a majority of State House Representatives committed to putting people and the planet above corporate profits.
Let’s make that our goal. 100% success in the House. We can do this. #rebuildthehouse
House District 3 (Hilo, Keaau, Kurtistown, Volcano)
Born in Honoka’a and raised on Hawai’i Island, Shannon Lopeka Matson, is grateful to call Hawaiian Acres her home. As an alumnus of U.H. Hilo, she has been an active community leader in the Hilo and Puna area for over 15 years. Fellow community leader Kealoha Pisciotta says it best, “I support Shannon Matson in her run for the House Of Representative for my District. She embodies a new kind of leadership that is needed in this time of great change. As a Mother, Business Owner, Environmental and Social Justice Advocate, I believe she has what it takes to be a champion for the people and the land.” https://electshannonmatson.com
House District 4 (Puna)
Eileen Ohara brings experience to the position, and that experience will tell you where her values are. Special Projects Manager, Malama O Puna, 2020
Hawaii County Council Member & Chair of the Environmental Management Committee, 2016-2018, Office Manager and Community Liaison, State Senate, 2012-13, Business Development Specialist, Pacific Biodiesel & Big Island Biodiesel, 2007-2011. Recycling Coordinator, County of Hawai`i, Dept. of Environmental Management, 2003-2006, Executive Director, Recycle Hawai`i, 2002-2003, Planner, County of Hawaii, Planning Department, 2001-2002, Coordinator, HELCO, Remote Residential Solar Electric & Street Lighting Programs, 1995-1999, Founding Board Member and Quality Control Officer, Hawai`i Organic Farmers Assn, 1993-2001
House District 5 (Naalehu, Ocean View, Capt. Cook, Kealakekua, Kailua-Kona)
Jeanné was born in Kona and raised on a small coffee farm in the nearby town of Captain Cook. She graduated from Konawaena High School in 2012 and currently serves West Hawai’i as a member of the Kona Coffee Cultural Festival Board of Directors, Lions Club of Kona member, communications chair of Konawaena High School’s 100th Anniversary Committee, and Director of the Miss Kona Coffee Scholarship Competition. Jeanné believes that it’s time to guarantee that the workers who drive our economy are able to thrive financially by raising the minimum wage to at least $15/hour and establishing a statewide paid family leave program. She is also committed to raising teacher pay, fully funding our schools, and creating a Green New Deal.
Note: For District 5, there are two names listed for the single seat. Jeanné Kapela has the endorsement of the Pono Hawaii Initiative, and Colehour Bondera who was a late entry to the race has my personal support. This is a “win-win” for District 5 as both are solid in their values and both bring new energy to the State House of Representatives. This race and the endorsement process was a difficult and awkward one for me as I have great respect for both candidates.
House District 5 (Naalehu, Ocean View, Capt. Cook, Kealakekua, Kailua-Kona)
Colehour Bondera is a farmer and long time resident in the District. He is the President of the Board of Kona Coffee Farmers Association, a board member of the Kona Farm Bureau and on the board also of the national organization, Beyond Pesticides.
House District 8 (Kahakuloa, Waihee, Waiehu, Puuohala, Wailuku, Waikapu)
Ka’apuni Aiwohi says that “Growing up in a Hawaiian household taught me the foundational value of mālama. To care for those that can not care for themselves and for those that do not have a voice.” He will advocate for improving Hawaii’s educational system and for building an economy that will provide jobs for the next generation. He believes strongly also that we must restore trust in our government, protect Hawaii’s sacred places and “bring a holistic and sustainable approach to our `āina so the next generations can enjoy the natural luxuries that we currently use.” https://votekaapuni.com
House District 11 (Kihei, Wailea, Makena)
Representative Tina Wildberger has 23 years of work experience in Hawaii both as a hospitality professional in Food & Beverage and a small business owner. She is a progressive employer who understands the issues faced by business owners working hard to make ends meet in our island economy. In the first legislative session following her election, Tina showed her willingness to speak truth to power when she stood up and spoke out against the corporate water theft bill being promoted by House leadership. If not for her willingness to speak out, public trust rights to stream waters on Maui would have been transferred for free to a private real estate investment trust who had already essentially sold them to another entity for $62,000,000. Please help support and ensure the reelection of Representative Tina Wildberger.
House District 12 (Spreckelsville, Pukalani, Makawao, Kula, Keokea, Ulupalakua, Kahului)
Simon Russell was raised in Hawaii, works as a farmer, and lives in Upcountry Maui (Makawao). Simon is “everything agriculture” and is totally committed to helping to create a Hawaii that is food self-sufficient. He helps farmers today through Hui ‘O Mālama ‘Āina LLC, an agricultural consulting company, and Farm Maui LLC, a licensed contracting company focused on farm operations and management. His background includes Hawaii Farmers Union Foundation (HFUF) – Founding President (2015-2017), USDA Farm Service Agency – State Committee Member, Affordable Agriculture Worker Housing Working Group – Founder, and involvement with many other agricultural and community organizations. Simon Russell is a staunch advocate for Hawaii farmers, Hawaii families, and Hawaii’s natural environment.
House District 13 (Haiku, Hana, Kaupo, Kipahulu, Nahiku, Paia, Kahoolawe, Lanai, Molokai, Molokini)
Uncle Walter Ritte is a legend, a visionary, and a force for the people. In the past, he has moved rhetorical mountains – including the U.S. Congress, the State of Hawaii, and the University of Hawaii – and he has protected real ones. His election and presence in the House of Representatives would be a monumental win for the aloha aina movement.
House District 20 (St. Louis Heights, Palolo, Maunalani Heights, Wilhelmina Rise, Kaimuki)
Becky Gardner is an attorney with extensive experience working at the state legislature. She is an elected member of the Kaimuki Neighborhood Board and a founding board member of Envision Kaimuki. As the child of a Filipina mother and an English-German father, Becky learned the value of diversity and honoring culture early on. She is driven by a passion to help create a better world for her two daughters and to share with the community her vision for a just, equitable and sustainable future. Becky Gardner’s election would bring valuable personal and professional experience to the Hawaii House of Representatives.
House District 22 (Waikiki, Ala Moana, Kakaako)
Adrian K. Tam was born and raised in Honolulu. In 2015, Adrian graduated from Penn State University and returned to Hawaii to join his family business and ultimately serve as legislative staff for former Speaker Calvin Say and current State Senator Stanley Chang. He has served in multiple capacities for the Hawaii Democratic Party, is a board member of Young Progressives Demanding Action, a member of the Waikiki Lions Club, and the former vice-president of the Taiwanese American Professionals. “I know Adrian to be caring, hardworking, and deeply committed to supporting progressive initiatives that help the people, ecology, and economy of Hawaii.” – Malia Nolan, Community Advocate
Kim Coco Iwamoto
House District 26 (McCully, Kakaako, Ala Moana, Downtown)
Kim Coco Iwamoto’s victory in this race would shake the House and Hawaii’s political establishment to its core. She is experienced in business, is a former legal aid attorney, has served as a member of the Hawaii Civil Rights Commission, and on the Hawaii Board of Education. She is a strong advocate of fulling funding public education and says succinctly: “If the legislature can find the political will to fund elevated rail, it can find the funds to elevate our schools”. As to affordable housing and economic justice, she walks the talk: “Kim Coco is part of the solution. She reached out to programs serving the homeless and rented an apartment to a hard-working father of three who had slipped into homelessness and had been living in their van for three years.”– Catherine Graham – Housing Advocate. Kim Coco is a champion of justice and a fearless advocate who puts the interest of people and the planet above all else.
House District 29 (Kalihi-Palama, Iwilei & Chinatown)
James says: “I want higher wages for our workers so they can go home after a long day of work and not have to worry about being able to make rent or their mortgage payment. We need to prevent homelessness by supporting our workers. Most people are one paycheck or disaster away from homelessness. Higher wages can alleviate that burden. I spoke to James at length recently and came away convinced he someone who will fight hard for the rights of working men and women and is definitely not afraid to speak truth to power. The State House certainly needs more people willing to speak up.
House District 30 (Kalihi, Halawa, Sand Island, Airport)
Sonny Ganaden loves Kalihi, the community where he lives and works. He is a writer, an attorney, and the program coordinator at a non-profit in Kalihi, mentoring young people and helping to build community. As an attorney, he represents small local businesses, indigent defendants, juveniles, and victims of domestic violence. As a journalist, his focus is on the dignity and creativity of ordinary heroes. Sonny is committed to working hard for the people of his district and he is committed to a reform of the criminal justice system that is fair and equitable for all people, not just the rich and connected.
Trish La Chica
House District 36 (Mililani Mauka, Mililani)
Trish La Chica has dedicated her entire career fighting against unjust systems and policies favoring those with wealth and power. As a community advocate, Trish believes that government should work hard to ensure that the people it serves should never, ever have to feel powerless. Trish is currently the advocacy and policy director for the Hawaii Public Health Institute and also serves on the Mililani/Waipio/Melemanu Neighborhood Board. Her public policy focus can be summed up in 7 words – “Championing issues that impact Hawaii’s working families.” It is without question that working men and women on all islands, in all communities here in Hawaii, would benefit from the election of Trish La Chica.
House District 41 (Ewa, Ewa Beach, Ewa Gentry, Ewa Villages, Hoakalei, Ocean Pointe)
Matthew S. LoPresti, Ph.D. (University of Hawai‘i at Manoa) has been teaching philosophy at the university level since 1999, and has served two prior terms in the Hawaii State Legislature, House of Representatives for District 41. Matt’s work-ethic and his care for the land and the environment comes from both of his grandfathers, each of whom were farmers and small business owners. His passion for education comes from his mother who was a teacher. Matt’s past record in the House of Representatives demonstrates clearly that he is a strong voice and a solid vote for progressive issues – putting people and the planet first. https://matt4ewa.com
House District 42 (Kapolei – Makakilo)
Vickie Kam is committed to the service of her community by addressing the needs of working families, economic equity, and environmental stewardship. She is an educator, small business owner, beekeeper, mom, and a new grandparent. Vickie Kam is tireless in her community work as evidenced by her involvement with: West Oahu Alumni, Blue Zones Project, Kapolei Chamber of Commerce, Hawaii Working Families Coalition, Founding Member of Women’s Island Soccer Association, Democratic Party of Hawaii (Labor and Women’s Caucus), NEA Teacher Leader Initiative, ACLU, and The Southern Poverty Law Center.
House District 46 (Wahiawa, Whitmore Village, Launani Valley)
AmyPerruso works hard for her community. First and foremost Amy is a teacher and says that “Teaching and surfing for decades in Hawai’i led me to the practices, people, and politics of aloha ʻāina.” Her stated mission is to “help create a more sustainable, just, and prosperous future for our community and our islands.” Because of Amy’s hard work and initiative, the Department of Education announced a “no herbicide policy” for ALL public schools in Hawaii. While hundreds of people and many organizations were essential partners in this success, it was because of Representative Amy Perruso’s leadership and initiative that it came to fruition. Let’s all get behind this incredible woman and support her reelection. https://www.voteamyperruso.com/
House District 48 (Kaneohe, Kahaluu, Waiahole)
Kau’i Pratt-Aquino is about community empowerment. She goes to sleep every night and wakes up every morning thinking about how to help and support her community. She is a mother, a lawyer, and an extraordinarily effective community advocate. Raised in Koʻolaupoko, she is a seventh-generation Native Hawaiian of the area who brings over seventeen years of experience in community advocacy and development to the legislative arena. She was raised in Pūʻohala Village where she and her family have resided for nearly 40 years. Kau’i says “I am running for the State House of Representatives because I care deeply about our future and the needs of our community. As I travel around the district, talking with people too often I hear they do not feel their interests are being represented in government. I want to change that.” All Hawaii will benefit from the election of Kau’i Pratt-Aquino.
House District 50 (Kailua, Kaneohe Bay)
Micah Kalama Pregitzer is a longtime resident of Kailua and the Windward side of O’ahu. He has been teaching science at Kalaheo High School for the last 16 years and currently serves as Windward Chapter President for the Hawai’i State Teachers Association. A champion of economic justice, Micah is committed to ensuring that Hawai’i’s economy works for people, not corporations. He will fight to fully fund public schools, raise the minimum wage, build truly affordable housing, and establish paid family leave programs that uplift working families. Micah is also committed to strengthening Hawai’i’s efforts to combat climate change and protect our natural environment.
House District 51 (Kailua-Waimanalo)
Alan K. Akao, Esq. is a life-long Kailua resident. He received his B.A. in Classics with a minor in Philosophy from Rutgers University. In 2015 he earned his Juris Doctorate (J.D.) with a certificate in Native Hawaiian Law and subsequently became a practicing attorney licensed to practice in Hawaii in both state and federal courts. Alan has received the enthusiastic endorsement of both the ILWU and the HSTA who stated “Alan is the candidate who can best advocate (for the rights of working people and for education) in the state legislature for House District 51.”
U.S. Congress CD2 – Kaiali‘i “Kai” Kahele
State Senator Kai Kahele has proven that when the crunch comes, he will do the right thing. Certainly, on issues pertaining to environmental protection, he has without question proven himself. He has also on numerous occasions bucked the powers that be, and taken tough decisions that put people and the planet first. https://www.kaikahele.com
Honolulu Prosecutor – Jacquie Esser
Jacquie is an experienced, eloquent, strong, and independent voice for justice – true justice for all regardless of how much money they have.
In the races listed below, other seats also up for election but I am making no recommendation.
I am only endorsing candidates who I know personally and have some experience working with them at some level. I suggest leaving “blanks” and not voting on races unless you are clear and firm on your choice.
Office of Hawaiian Affairs
Note: These offices are voted on “statewide”.
Dan Ahuna (Kauaʻi County)
Lanakila Mangauil (Hawaiʻi County)
Maui County Council
Kelly King (South Maui)
Tamara Paltin (West Maui)
Shane Sinenci (East Maui)
Keani Rawlins-Fernandez (Molokai)
Gabe Johnson (Lanai)
Kauai County Council
Mason Chock (Island Wide)
Felicia Cowden (Island Wide)
Luke Evslin (Island Wide)
There are many new candidates running on Kauai that I have not yet had the opportunity to properly review and/or get to know. It is my hope to expand this list after the Primary election and include additional candidates. But for now, I am only actively supporting these three candidates.
HAWAII COUNTY COUNCIL
Heather Kimball, CD1 (Portions of South & North Hilo & Waimea & Hamakua)
Matt Kaneali’i-Kleinfelder, CD5 (Portions of Western Puna)
Rebecca Villegas, CD7 (Portions of South & North Kona)
Honolulu City Council
Will Espero – District 9
Esther Kia’āina – District 3
On the Mayor’s race for Oahu and Hawaii County – There are too many candidates and none at the moment stand out as particularly strong on the issues most important to me – environmental protection and economic and social justice AND have the experience needed to manage the County. While I may write about these races in the future, I do not expect to make any recommendations.
Please help by sharing this message far and wide.
“Hawai’i candidates putting people and the planet above corporate profits.”
Note: If you received this blog post “forwarded from a friend” and would like to be kept informed of policy, politics and the upcoming elections – please consider subscribing to my email newsletter – http://garyhooser.com/#four
Hawaii Candidates putting people and the planet above corporate profits.
Mahalo for this list and your insights. I’m not in Uncle Walter’s district, but I hope he gets elected.
Thank you Eileen for touching base and for your support of Uncle Walter. Living in the district or not, please help spread the word and make a small contribution if you can. He needs the help and support and it all adds up!
I’m a huge fan of Jacquie Esser and she has both my personal endorsement and the Pono Hawaii Initiative (PHI) endorsement. My focus, however, is on #rebuildingthehouse But, yes…I will be highlighting Jacquie as well in the future.
Live/vote in House Dist 22 & will plan to support Adrian Tan over one of most stereotypical so-so entrenched-for-years truly career local politicians.
Knew Kim Coco Iwamoto fairly well when she was associated with Volunteer Legal Services (Lawyers Care back then) and know she is a solid gold human being.
I’d be prone to support Uncle Walter but am a firm supporter of TMT done right. Hope he may realize that done right, TMT could be a great positive for Hawaii’s future.
Agree or disagree on TMT, Walter Ritte has walked the walk for many years and deserves the support of all progressives.
Yes. His fearlessness and willingness to speak truth to power, would be a welcome change and empower others as well.
I will only support candidates who believe in the right to CHOOSE what goes into OUR OWN bodies. I will NOT support anyone who has sold their soul to Big Pharma or Big Ag and has any connection to them. If people care about their health and their children’s health, if people care about their children living in a free society I suggest they make this a priority when it comes to choosing a candidate.
Thank you for this list. It helps us understand the candidates platform and what new blood can do to move our State into progressive new thoughts to serve our needs.
We need more people in the know to show us what our politicians are doing that has thwarted progress and other downfalls in abuse of power and corruption.
Thank you for these recommendations! Are you going to give an endorsement for Kauai County Council and US district 2?
Senator Kai Kahele is my pick for CD 2 – as far as the Kauai County Council…I am still thinking about this and may wait until after the primary election. My bet is the “top 5 seats will go to incumbents and the former Mayor will get the 6th seat…so only one true newcomer will squeeze into #7. There are at least 4 in this category that I am looking at. I’m looking for values, character and the willingness to work hard. Some of the candidates seem to not want to do the work it takes to win a campaign (put up signs and banners, hold signs on the highway, run advertisements, raise money, etc. etc. etc.). Even if I LIKE someone personally and they seem to have my basic values…if they are not willing to do the work then I am unable to support them. But..am watching and trying to do my homework on all of them.
Surprised about Kai Kahele…
Kai Kahele has come through strong on a number of issues important to the environment and “good government”. And he has disappointed me and others on some issues as well. There is no doubt whatsoever that he will win with a huge margin of victory. If there was another candidate with strong progressive and environmental values who was viable and had any hope whatsoever of winning, then I would certainly be open to giving them a look – but there are none. I am convinced that Senator Kahele is a man of good character, who cares about people and the planet, and when the crunch comes…he will come through for us.
What do you think of what Brian Evans has to say about Kai Kahele?
I’m disappointed that you haven’t had endorsements for the BI (other than Heather Kimball, who is a geneticist and GMO apologist). We seriously need to get Ippy Aiona into office in District 9 and oust the incumbent who is trying to GMO the entire island and willing to make mob-style threats over it.
Actually, I have made many recommendations for candidates running on the Big Island – 3 council candidates and several for the State House https://garyhooser.blog/2020/07/21/a-complete-list-of-hawaii-county-election-recommendations-state-house-council-federal-oha/ Unfortunately I have not been able to fully examine every single race and candidate. Several of my friends in Hawaii County have also suggested that Ippy Aiona was a good and solid person that I should be supporting. Because I am essentially a one-person operation…and because there are hundreds of candidates running across the state…I have not been able to cover them all. As to the Kai Kahele question…I thought I had addressed that elsewhere on this blog? But if not…the short answer is similar to that of all candidates – I believe his plusses far outweigh his minuses…
What are your thoughts on Brian Evans’s comments about Kahele’s track record?
Also, note that we have Ippy Aiona running for District 9. We need the pro-GMO incumbent who has only served himself out of office. Don’t even get me started on the threats and backbiting by his minions.
Hey Gary, appreciate what you are trying to do … I had pretty much picked my candidates before I saw your endorsements and was pleased to see that they coincided. Since the state elections are effectively over this weekend, let’s hope for the best!
Mahalo. Please help spread the word. Every vote is needed.