Hawaii voters voice choices in primary election


HONOLULU — From global issues like the U.S. international relations to local issues like development near downtown Honolulu, Hawaii voters voiced a multitude of motivations in the state’s primary election on Saturday. Here are some of their voices:

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Rebecca Simpson, a 30-year-old University of Hawaii student studying for a doctoral degree in earth sciences, said she picked U.S. Sen. Brian Schatz over U.S. Rep. Colleen Hanabusa in the race for the Democratic nomination to replace the late U.S. Sen. Daniel Inouye. She said she was impressed by a recent all-nighter Schatz led in Washington to highlight climate change issues.

“He has a good (environmental) record and shares most of my values,” Simpson said. “He’s at least trying to come up with solutions and new approaches.”

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Chris Sheehey, a 29-year-old data scientist, said he liked state Sen. David Ige’s leadership style but picked Democratic rival Hawaii Gov. Neil Abercrombie for re-election. Sheehey said he more closely aligns with what the governor believes.

“I racked my brain all night on this,” he said.

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Ellen Tong, a 45-year-old small business owner and former environmental lobbyist, said it took three tries to get to the right polling place because she had been redistricted.

She said she didn’t like that Inouye pushed for Hanbusa to succeed him.

“I think it’s kind of ridiculous that someone who unfortunately died should name his successor,” Tong said. “I don’t think that’s Democratic. It goes against the clear definition of democracy.”

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Mark Shimao, a 50-year-old dentist, said he voted for Ige because of a combination of his politics and style.

“He’s been a politician for a while, and he doesn’t say much, but he pretty much does what he says.” Shimao said. “I think we need a change. I know everyone says that, but it’s true.”

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John Lacy, a retired computer executive, said he voted for Hanabusa over Schatz because he thinks her thought process is more logical and approachable.

“Schatz is more liberal, and he’ll vote with (President Barack) Obama every time,” Lacy said. “I don’t think he’ll think for himself, is the bottom line. I want someone that thinks for themselves.”

He said he supported Mark Takai for U.S. House after being turned off by state Sen. Donna Mercado Kim calling the president of the University of Hawaii about her son’s application.

“We never really heard an apology for that, and she needed to step up,” she said.

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Colleen Heyer, a 49-year-old homemaker, said she voted for Honolulu Councilman Stanley Chang for U.S. House because she’s been rooting for him in every election so far and agrees with him on every issue.

“He really got on the whole pothole thing,” Heyer said. “I know that sounds funny but it’s a huge issue for us.”

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Constance Nicks, a 25-year-old graduate student, said she initially headed to vote because she wanted to retain Schatz but then heard Abercrombie was in trouble and also voted for him. Originally from North Carolina, she backs candidates that support gay rights.

“When I saw “Abercrombie” leading the pride parade, I said ‘I’m gonna follow that guy,’” Nicks said. “I feel like he’s doing a good job.”

Iselle didn’t really play a role in her decisions

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Berneicea Worrell, a real estate broker from Honolulu, said she credits Abercrombie with helping construction and development boom and with his leadership as Hurricane Iselle barreled toward Hawaii.

“If the hurricane would have hit, we were ready,” she said. It weakened to a tropical storm before hitting the Big Island.

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Tom White, a 62-year-old retired U.S. Navy officer, said he thinks Abercrombie’s time in Congress made him too combative, so he voted for Ige instead even though he thought picking the state senator was like “rolling the dice.”

“There’s been so much friction between Abercrombie, the Legislature and communities,” White said. “He’s too many rough edges.”

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Department of Defense worker Pete DeLauzon, 60, said he supported Takai as a vote against Kim.

“I think that Mark Takai has a great record anyway, his service to the country is certainly appreciated and I think he’ll make a good congressman and I absolutely do not want Donna Kim to be elected,” he said. “She did damage here and she has the potential of doing damage on a national stage. I guess you could say it was an anti-vote.”

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David Hecht, a 69-year-old retiree, said he voted for Schatz in part because he liked that he is relatively young.

“Because if seniority in the Senate is helpful — it obviously was helpful for Inouye all those years, for the island, we got a lot of military stuff and everything,” Hecht said.

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Will Short, a 58-year-old consultant for IBM, said he’s been following Republican gubernatorial nominee Duke Aiona and thought he was the most qualified given the limited choices.

“I’ve been following him since he was lieutenant governor and I like what he does,” Short said.

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Andrew Tomoso, a 53-year-old surfboard glasser and production crewmember, said he picked Ige because he doesn’t make promises, he gets the job done.

“I don’t need promises; I want action. He’s shown his grass roots,” Tomoso said. “He didn’t raise a lot of money fundraising, but he went out there into the community and presented himself and I was able to watch and that was the reason I went for him.”

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Joe Waldrip, a 52-year-old electrician, said he voted for Republicans because he thinks Democrats are on the wrong track.

“You been in there long enough — things don’t seem to be getting that much better,” he said. “Especially for working people like me, I can’t think of anything that’s gotten better in the last few years. My health insurance has gone up, my paycheck is smaller.”

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Marion Barnes, a 66-year-old retiree in Honolulu, said she voted for Hanabusa because she didn’t like negative commercials backing Schatz.

“I find it so upsetting that at the last minute I changed to her instead of him,” she said.