Hawaii’s primary elections will be conducted on Aug. 11, a day critical to the political future of this state and county, not simply because it is an opportunity to participate in our representative form of government, but also because many contests will be decided at this level, especially in the nonpartisan races of Hawaii County.
The editorial board of West Hawaii Today — the publisher, editor and its two political 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.
Ed Case is our choice to represent the Democratic Party. Case has over the years impressed us with his independence and ability to move legislation, as well as his more conservative perspective on fiscal issues.
Linda Lingle, our former governor, is the best and only choice among GOP candidates qualified and prepared to represent this state’s interests in Washington.
U.S. House Dist. 2
We favor Democrat Mufi Hannemann in this contest. He has the knowledge, political savvy, business skills, fortitude and connections to represent Hawaii’s people very effectively. While some have rightly criticized his tough persona, he has returned from a failed gubernatorial effort somewhat humbled — but a tough stand is needed to make headway and stand out among the crowd inside the beltway.
However, we must note the potential of Tulsi Gabbard, though not quite ready for prime time, she is a bright,fresh and new political facet that Hawaii should see more of in coming years.
State Senate Dist. 1
This race, which will be decided in the primary, should return Democrat Gilbert Kahele to the Senate. An Abercrombie appointee, Kahele in his freshman term demonstrated an uncanny effectiveness. And while a resident of East Hawaii, Kahele has strong ties and roots in Milolii, providing understanding of West Hawaii, as well as Native Hawaiian issues.
State Senate Dist. 2
Democrat Bob Herkes has for decades been a political fixture of Hawaii politics, and for good reason: He pays attention to problems and gets things done. Though sometimes contentious, he is involved, aware and well connected. He deserves to remain a fixture in the Legislature, allowing him to continue representing effectively the people of the southernmost district of the state.
State Sen. Dist. 4
Both Democratic candidates were openly and unfortunately manipulative in the reapportionment process. Of the two, however, Abercrombie appointee and former Sen. Malama Solomon has the intelligence and abilities to represent the northern constituents of this island. We would remind her, however, representation includes constituents beyond Native Hawaiians and that her effectiveness would improve were she to embrace other issues with the gusto that draws her focus to cultural concerns.
State House Dist. 1
Democrat Mark Nakashima has demonstrated he clearly deserves re-election in this contest that will decide the Hamakua area seat. He has shown ability, openness and effectiveness, especially in issues keen to this predominantly agricultural district.
State House Dist. 3
Former Ka‘u County Councilwoman Brittany Smart is a clear choice for the Democratic ticket in this race. Smart impressed on the council, where she did a very good job after starting her freshman term slowly, paying attention, listening and learning, to become an effective and informed voice for her district and the island, taking the time to study and learn issues carefully.
State House Dist. 5
Democrat Denny Coffman deserves the nod in his party contest. Coffman has taken the most complicated and contentious issue — geothermal — and effectively approached it factually, rather than emotionally. The incumbent is doing a good job: He’s well informed on the issues he embraces and is accessible to constituents.
State House Dist. 6
Former Leeward Planning Commissioner Fred Housel has been keenly active and informed in community issues, showing he’s a smart guy who understands issues. The conservative and fact-based approach he has shown demonstrates his ability to learn about issues and embrace them carefully.
On the GOP ticket, Roy Ebert is the only responsive and viable choice.
Hawaii County Mayor
Incumbent Billy Kenoi deserves re-election. Though sometimes prone to exaggeration, overall, he has taken the county in the appropriate direction in the past four years, cutting spending and bringing existing projects to fruition without cost overruns. He also increased governmental presence in West Hawaii with weekly visits and more West Hawaii-based department heads. While the federal funding allowing the midlevel road project could be seen as a “gift horse” by some, Kenoi must be credited with riding it across the finish line in winning and effective style.
Former Corporation Counsel Lincoln Ashida, deserves to serve the county in this post. A former prosecutor, Ashida knows the importance of aggressive prosecution combined with as open communication as possible with the community regarding cases, disposition and developments, something for years lacking from the chief prosecutor. Ashida has proven his effectiveness as an administrator, with his accessibility and accountability and would serve the law and county well.
County Council Dist. 1
We support the election of Jo Kim, an attorney who is the smartest and strongest candidate for this agricultural district, someone who has demonstrated a willingness to get fully educated and involved in issues with a sense of informed independence.
County Council Dist. 2
We support the re-election of incumbent J Yoshimoto, a politician who has improved nicely, breaking from a habitual Hilo bloc vote, crossing lines to show his wisdom and independence on issues. An intelligent council member, he has more frequently shown his welcome abilities as a mediator as contentious issues arise.
County Council Dist. 4
James Weatherford is a wholesale distributor of involvement in county issues affecting his district and others. A participant long before he became a candidate, Weatherford is an intelligent voice, an independent thinker whose perspective would be a welcome and enlightening addition to the council, especially so in solid waste issues.
County Council Dist. 5
Zendo Kern proved his interests and abilities in county issues during his tenure on the Windward Planning Commission where some saw him as oil on the waters, a deliberate individual who doesn’t anger easily and has shown his leadership abilities.
County Council Dist. 6
Brenda Ford is the only choice to represent this district. This incumbent is a heavy lifter on the council, drilling down into issues and documents too often too casually accepted by peers. She is a fact-based, no nonsense politician who asks the important questions and expects factual and meaningful responses. She’s in government for one reason: to represent us.
County Council Dist. 8
Our choice for this district is conservative newcomer Charles Guccione. He takes a business-like approach to government operations, reflecting the nature of his district. But he laces that nicely with more moderate understanding and support of concepts like impact fees, affecting regional residents. He is smart enough to understand a government “fee” is just another tax.
County Council Dist. 9
Waimea attorney Margaret Wille is another candidate who has been involved in county political processes for much longer than her candidacy. She has drafted legislation for and litigation against the county. Wille would be an effective representative for the North Hawaii region, increasingly so as she focuses and distills her efforts, understanding that sometimes, less is more.
Whether you agree or disagree with these endorsements, we sincerely hope you will agree on the importance of your vote in the political process and exercise that right Aug. 11.