Hawaii’s primary election is already underway, but Saturday is the day many state residents will cast their ballots in several key races.
The editorial board of West Hawaii Today — the publisher, associate editor and four reporters — have reached a consensus on which candidates from their respective parties will best represent the interests of our communities. With the exception of the county races, the primary is a partisan contest; votes may be cast only within the confines of one political party. As such, we have, in most cases, selected to endorse candidates from both principal political parties where viable candidates stand to proceed to the General Election.
Brian Schatz should be the Democratic nominee for U.S. Senate in this hotly contested primary race. We believe Schatz has been working hard since being appointed as interim senator, and note that whenever he visits Hawaii Island, it is to make a site visit to a national park, construction site or a location that would benefit from some kind of legislation he has either sponsored or supported. Hard working and collaborative, Schatz seems to have a firm grasp of the issues facing Hawaii Island and the rest of the state.
In the Democratic primary, we endorse challenger David Ige. The former state senator has a reputation as a thoughtful, quiet leader well suited to working with others. A “numbers guy,” as one reporter noted, Ige has the right aptitude to manage the large state budget and administration. Ige, in candidate forums and debates, has presented a clearer vision of what steps he would take if elected governor and has been able to clearly articulate his vision for Hawaii over the next four years.
In the Republican primary, we choose to endorse Duke Aiona. As the former lieutenant governor, Aiona knows his way around state government. Of all the GOP candidates in this race, Aiona is best positioned to have the essential knowledge to be the state’s top administrator.
County Council District 1
During her inaugural term in office, Valerie Poindexter has grown and matured significantly as an elected official and community leader. She deserves another term.
County Council District 2
We endorse Aaron Chung for this Hilo district. Chung, a former county councilman, has deep roots on Hawaii Island, as well as significant support for his candidacy. His prior experience on the council will serve him well.
County Council District 4
Greggor Ilagan has proved himself to be accessible and committed to his constituents, going so far as to ride the county bus routes throughout Puna and testifying in front of the county’s water board to ask for better services for the district’s residents. Ilagan has grown significantly as a council member during his freshman term and works hard to represent his constituents’ interests when the time comes to cast his vote. If we have one concern about him, it would be the significant financial and campaign support he has received from political action committees this election. He didn’t appear to be strongly influenced by those outside influences during his first term, and we’ll be watching to see what happens if he is elected for a second term.
County Council District 5
We choose not to endorse in this district because one of the candidates worked for West Hawaii Today within the last decade.
County Council District 6
In a strong field in which any of the three candidates would likely be solid legislators, we are endorsing Maile David. Currently working as the county’s deputy clerk, with recent experience working directly for the council, David will be able to hit the ground running and immediately begin working on legislation to benefit her district and the entire island. David also has a history of community activism, having been a part of a successful cultural protection lawsuit.
County Council District 8
Karen Eoff, in her first term in office, has proved to be an effective legislator and strong leader. We have been particularly impressed with Eoff’s ability to separate her own emotions, and sometimes personal friendships, from her duties on the council. Eoff, whom we believe is measured, thoughtful and steady, is well positioned to be a successful council member for a second term.
Council District 9
For one of the more contentious council races this year, we would like to see Margaret Wille return for a second term. Wille has been a lightning rod this term, attracting criticism for taking on controversial, difficult subjects, which some county residents believe are beyond the county’s scope. But Wille has also worked very hard on a variety of issues, including putting in untold hours on the real property tax force, as she tries to institute a number of reforms she believes will benefit the county as a whole.
State Senate District 1
We choose Gilbert Kahele on the Democratic ticket.
State Senate District 4
We choose not to endorse in this race.
State Representative District 2
We choose Clifton Tsuji on the Democratic ticket.
State Representative District 4
We choose not to endorse in this race.
State Representative District 5
We choose Richard Creagan on the Democratic ticket.
State Representative District 6
We choose Nicole Lowen on the Democratic ticket.
We choose not to endorse on the Republican ticket.
West Hawaii Today is choosing not to endorse in several primary contests, including the U.S. House of Representatives race, the U.S. Senate’s Republican race and the lieutenant governor’s race, because a majority of candidates have not had a significant campaign presence on Hawaii Island and we did not have sufficient information on the candidates or their positions to make a selection.