After an exhaustive review of almost every race for every office in the state of Hawaii, the below list represents my final recommendations for the 2020 Hawaii primary election for Oahu and includes candidates for both State, County, and Federal offices. Most of the candidates I am recommending, I know personally. Others I have met, done considerable research, and gotten input from friends and residents who live in their district. All, I believe share the core values of economic, social, and environmental justice – Putting people and the planet above corporate profits.
I start with the State House and end with the Council race – on Oahu.
(for all Counties Statewide go here)
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.
I am not making recommendations for every race or every open seat. I am only endorsing candidates who I know personally and have 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)
Honolulu City Council
Will Espero – District 9
Esther Kia’āina – District 3
On the Mayor’s race for Oahu – 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 this race in the future, I do not expect to make any recommendations.
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