It’s crunch time, and I will not mince words.

As described in “Fear and Loathing and Hope at the Capitol” ( we have before us an opportunity to #RebuildTheHouse

But it ain’t gonna happen without your help. That’s the bottom line my friends. We have a genuine opportunity to fundamentally change the very nature of our government, but to close the deal and make this happen requires you and many others to step up and help.

Across the islands, there are many qualified and credible individuals running for election to the State House. The Pono Hawaii Initiative has endorsed 13 ( so far and we continue to review another 5 very promising House candidates.

The 2020 Primary Election of August 8th has the potential to be a game-changer for policy and politics in Hawaii.

The election of Kim Coco Iwamoto ( alone would remove the culture of fear and shake the very foundations of the State House. With Kim Coco Iwamoto serving in the State House, issues of economic justice would no longer be shunted to the back of the line. She is experienced in business, is a former legal aid attorney, and has served as a member of the Hawaii Civil Rights Commission, and on the Hawaii Board of Education. Her commitment to environmental protection is unequivocal.

Currently, no person of Hawaiian ancestry sits on the House Water, Land & Hawaiian Affairs Committee. How does anyone in House Leadership think this is acceptable? No Hawaiians on the Hawaiian Affairs Committee? Clearly, there are Representatives in the House now who are of native Hawaiian descent, so either they have chosen not to sit on this committee or leadership does not allow them to. Both options are untenable. The election of Walter Ritte ( to the State House of Representatives would ensure this would not be the case in the future, of that you can be absolutely sure. Likewise, his election would mean that the House would no longer pass in relatively muted silence measures that attempt to sell our public trust resources to the highest bidder.

I know Kim Coco Iwamoto and Walter Ritte personally and do not exaggerate the huge positive impact either or both of them would have on the Hawaii legislature. Both need your active support – please contact their campaigns directly to volunteer and or make a financial contribution.

Today I write especially to help and support the following three remarkable women: Kau’i Pratt-Aquino (, Becky Gardner (, and Shannon Matson ( Each is without question highly qualified to serve in the State House, each share our core world view of putting people and the planet above corporate profits, and each can win.

But they need today an extra push that I am hoping you can help with. Like every candidate, they need people to help with phone calling and putting up yard signs – but most of all they need today your financial contributions.

While the official date of the Primary is August 8th, because of the “all mail-in voting” nature of this particular election – ballots will begin arriving on or about July 20.

It’s crunch time. People start voting in less than 30 days from now.

Printing and mailing a single postcard to registered voters cost each candidate approximately $4,000 to $5,000. None of these three candidates are wealthy and all have young families. They have put their personal lives on hold in the hopes of serving in public office, in order to make the world we live in a better place. Of this core motivation, I am certain.

Campaigns cost money to run and the candidates must have help to pay these expenses. This is the home stretch. They cannot let up, and neither can we.

Please give what you can today if possible, be it $20, $200, or up to $2,000. Contributions made prior to Monday, June 29th are especially important.

Kau’i Pratt-Aquino ( – House District 48 (Kaneohe, Kahaluu, Waiahole) Kau’i Pratt-Aquino 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 who brings over seventeen years of experience in community advocacy and development to the legislative arena. All Hawaii will benefit from the election of Kau’i Pratt-Aquino. Donate online to Kau’i Pratt-Aquino’s campaign here. (

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. We need Becky Gardner serving all of us in the Hawaii House of Representatives. Donate online to Becky Gardner’s campaign here. (

Shannon Matson (, House District 3 (Hilo, Keaau, Kurtistown, Volcano) Born in Honoka’a and raised on Hawaii Island, Shannon Lopeka Matson, is a graduate of U.H. Hilo and has been an active community leader in the Hilo and Puna area for over 15 years. 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.” Donate online to Shannon Matson’s campaign here (

Please if at all possible, focus your help and attention today on these three women. As individuals and certainly as a group, they have the capacity to change our world here locally. Whether you live in their particular district or not, please offer them your help and support, as their election will help all Hawaii.

I cannot over-emphasize the urgency of this request. Please help each of them today if you can.

For our children, for our grandchildren, and for the planet – let’s do this.


Gary Hooser

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 as volunteer President of the Hawaii Alliance for Progressive Action (H.A.P.A.) I am the former Vice-Chair of the Democratic Party of Hawaii. In another 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 website 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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6 Responses to It’s crunch time, and I will not mince words.

  1. Charles says:

    So are you saying that 90% of the House incumbents basically suck? I don’t know, just asking.

    • garyhooser says:

      A fair question. I think that a “majority” either look at the world through a different lens and/or are too meek to speak out. There are 51 House members and it takes 26 to form a majority and constitute “House leadership” which then drives the agenda. That majority and its leadership selects the Committee Chairs and decides which bills to pass or not. This is the same majority that supported the “corporate water theft bill” and has refused to increase the minimum wage. It’s the same majority that supports having a Hawaiian Affairs Committee that has no Hawaiians sitting on it. The list is long but it is clear that the majority that control the House do not even support the priority legislation that is supported by their own Democratic Party. Saying they “suck” is a little harsh maybe? And certainly saying 90% suck is not correct in my opinion. It just takes 26 Representatives to control what goes on in the State House.

  2. Charles says:

    That said, you are advocating a binary approach to an issue that is more nuanced.

    For example, you have posited that a few key wins will change the dynamic in the House. But you acknowledge that it takes 26 votes.

    So even if, say, 15 progressives win, it would be necessary for a dozen or so incumbents to embrace change. But by endorsing only two incumbents, the message however unintended is that the other incumbents are not willing, able, or otherwise to embrace change.

    • garyhooser says:

      You raise a good point and I agree the issue is much more nuanced. I also stand by my statement that a few key wins could change the entire dynamic of the House. For example if Kim Coco Iwamoto defeats Speaker Saiki, that would undeniably change the dynamic. Similarly but perhaps not as great would be the election of Walter Ritte, the dynamic would change simply by his presence and the strength of his voice. There are others who alone and certainly combined with others…would be a huge force. Why only two incumbents are endorsed? The reality is that no others asked to be endorsed and a few who share the same world view are running unopposed. Doing a rough internal count and guestimate, I would think there are at least another 7 or 8 who would be supportive of the core issues surrounding economic and environmental justice…but do not want to incur the wrath of House leadership by expressing those thoughts too loudly. Whether the number 26 is reached or not…a few can make a difference and having at least 15 credible candidates running represents a huge potential opportunity for change.

  3. Charles says:

    A last post on this issue. I think you also raise good points and I suppose it remains to be seen pending the results of the election. I’m obviously not as optimistic as you are keeping in mind my observations are from the cheap seats and I don’t have the insights that others have.

    That said, you posit that if Iwamoto defeats Saiki, the dynamic would change. I wonder if if you feel it would change “undeniably” if Luke becomes the speaker.

    As far as the endorsements, I was not aware that all the incumbents were asked (like they are from many advocacy groups) to be considered for your endorsement and only two incumbents did. (Or maybe more did but did not make the cut.) And I would think that even if incumbents are unopposed, just informing people who you believe share your values would be important. After all, I notice that many other organizations endorse unopposed candidates.

    Thanks for the chat.

  4. garyhooser says:

    Thanks Charles for the chat. With Iwamoto defeating Saiki…regardless of who becomes speaker…in my opinion the dynamics would greatly change. If he is vulnerable then everyone is vulnerable. Frankly, win or lose…the message that everyone is subject to a challenge is one that should make everyone think more carefully about these issues. All of the incumbents were not asked directly but via mass email and social media…I have on several occasions announced that anyone interested should contact me or PHI. In my experience, some endorsing orgs do individually contact everyone and others do not. As a candidate myself in the past, I learned it was up to me to make sure I was on the endorser’s radar screen. PHI is a very small organization with very limited resources and we simply do not have the time to reach out to each and every candidate. We started first mostly with “open seats” and then moved to contested races where we were already familiar with the candidates…and then expanded from there. I would hope that candidates, incumbents and nonincumbents alike who share our values…would follow our activities…know we were endorsing and then reach out to us. To those running unopposed, we just didn’t see the need to endorse. Another issue is that we want to give more focus and time and help to those candidates that we do endorse and having candidates on the list that don’t need the help, did not seem like the best idea. But having said all of this…if there are incumbents running opposed or unopposed who would like to have our endorsement, they should reach out and ask. Also to be clear, PHI has a Board of Directors and I do not call all the shots nor set all the agendas. The Board actually selects the endorsed candidates. I weigh in with my opinion but I do not vote. Happy to chat anytime. I assume you saw the blog post I posted here today – that was inspired by your initial comment?

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