Rebuilding The House – A list of endorsed candidates

An almost complete list of candidates for the Hawaii State House of Representatives that if elected, could change our world here in Hawaii-

Driven by a strong sense of urgency and a keen awareness of pervasive injustice, Pono Hawai’i Initiative (PHI) has identified 13 emerging leaders who are willing and able to challenge the status quo; willing to fight for economic, social, and environmental justice AND willing to put people and the planet above corporate interests and petty politics.

Imagine for a second, the potential for positive change these candidates represent, and then please do your part and help them.

Regardless of where you live, please make a contribution to their campaigns today and prior to July 17 if at all possible. Whether it is $20, $200, or $2,000, these candidates need your help to make that extra push down the home stretch. If you live in the district, put up a yard sign or contact the campaign and volunteer.

Ballots will be mailed on or about July 18th which leaves us less than a month to help make this happen.

Please. Join with me now in pushing as hard as we can.

We can do this.

Candidates for election to the State House of Representatives that have been endorsed by Pono Hawaii Initiative:

Shannon Matson
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 alumni 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.”

Jeanné Kapela 
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.

Tina Wildberger 
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.

Walter Ritte
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.

Haʻikū, Hāna, Pāʻia, Lana’i, Molokai

Becky Gardner
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.

Adrian Tam
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 Eduction. 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.

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 as the Chair of 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.

Matt LoPresti
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 demonstrate clearly that he is a strong voice and a solid vote for progressive issues – putting people and the planet first.

Amy Perruso
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.

Kau’i Pratt-Aquino
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.

Micah Pregitzer 
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.

Alan Akao
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.”

Other strong candidates who have not yet been interviewed for a Pono Hawaii endorsement but who are deserving also of consideration.

Colehour Bondera
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, and a board member of the Kona Farm Bureau and Beyond Pesticides.

Simon Russell
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.

Simon Russell 2020

Ka’apuni Aiwohi
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.”

James Logue
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.

Sonny Ganaden
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.

Vickie Kam
House District 42 (Kapolei – Makakilo)
Vickie Kam is committed to the service of her community through addressing the needs of working families, economic equity,and environmental stewardship. She is an educator, small business owner, bee keeper, 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.

Gary Hooser
Executive Director
Pono Hawaii Initiative (PHI)
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About garyhooser

This blog represents my thoughts as an individual person and does not represent the official position of any organization I may be affiliated with. I presently serve now as a volunteer President of the Hawaii Alliance for Progressive Action (H.A.P.A.) I am also currently the Vice-Chair of the Democratic Party of Hawaii. In a past life, I was an elected member of the Kauai County Council, a Hawaii State Senator and Majority Leader and the Director of Environmental Quality Control for the State of Hawaii - in an even earlier incarnation I was an entrepreneur and small business owner. Yes, I am one of the luckiest guys on the planet. Please visit my web site AND sign up for my newsletter (unlike any email newsletter you have ever gotten, of that I am sure) - “Come to the edge.” “We can’t. We’re afraid.” “Come to the edge.” “We can’t. We will fall!” “Come to the edge.” And they came. And he pushed them. And they flew. - Christopher Logue (b.1926)
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7 Responses to Rebuilding The House – A list of endorsed candidates

  1. Eileen Cain says:

    Mahalo for this list and your insights. I’m not in Uncle Walter’s district, but I hope he gets elected.

    • garyhooser says:

      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!

  2. Frank DeGiacomo says:

    Jacquie Esser?

    • garyhooser says:

      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.

  3. K Takata says:

    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.

  4. Johnathan says:

    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.

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