HONOLULU - Eleven candidates seek the U.S. Senate seat being vacated by Sen. Daniel Akaka (D).
In Saturday's Primary Election, Democrats Ed Case, Michael Gillespie, Antonio Gimbernat, Mazie Hirono and Arturo Pacheco Reyes will seek their party's nomination, along with Republicans John Carroll, John Roco, Eddie Pirkowski, Linda Lingle and Charles Augustin Collins.
The winner of Saturday's Case vs. Hirono match-up is expected to face Lingle in the Nov. 6 General Election.
“I am committed to providing strong, effective leadership for our Hawaii and country in the United States Senate over the next generation,” said Ed Case.
To help inform voters, the Lahaina News sent questionnaires to Case and Hirono. Their responses are listed below.
Ed Case, 59
EDUCATIONAL BACKGROUND: Waiakea Kai and Keaukaha Elementary Schools (Hilo); Hawaii Preparatory Academy (Waimea); Williams College (Massachusetts); University of California/Hastings Law School (San Francisco)
COMMUNITY INVOLVEMENT: Hawaii Pacific District Export Council, U.S. Department of Commerce; Director, Small Business Hawaii; Adjunct Professor, Hawaii Pacific University; Coach, AYSO youth soccer; Board, Attorneys and Judges Assistance Program
POLITICAL EXPERIENCE: United States Congressman, 2nd District, Hawaii (including Maui Nui), 2002-07; Hawaii State Representative, 1994-2002, Majority Leader; Manoa Neighborhood Board, 1985-1989, Chair. For information on my background, experience in both government and our private sector, my record as Maui's Congressman and agenda as Maui's and Hawaii's next Senator, visit www.edcase.com.
WHY ARE YOU RUNNING FOR THE U.S. SENATE? This is a once-in-a-generation election for Hawaii, because any state's choice of a new United States senator, as Hawaii has not done for a generation since Sen. Akaka's election, is critical to a state, and because our next senator must also likely assume the responsibilities of senior senator from Sen. Inouye in time. This is a crucial election for our country because Washington is not working for all Americans, and we need U.S. Senators committed to fixing it. I am committed to providing strong, effective leadership for our Hawaii and country in the United States Senate over the next generation.
TALKING TO PEOPLE ON THE NEIGHBOR ISLANDS, WHAT ARE THE THREE BIGGEST ISSUES IN THE 2012 ELECTIONS? First, I was born and raised on the Neighbor Islands, the fourth generation of my family to live, work and contribute on the Neighbor Islands (my great-grandparents on Maui, my grandparents on Kauai, my father on Kauai and my parents and me on the Big Island). I've lived, worked and played on the Neighbor Islands throughout my life, including 30 years in our private sector and over four years as congressman. So the Neighbor Islands are not some new place to be learned; they are a way of life and are in my blood. The three biggest issues for the Neighbor Islands are: (1) growing our economy and preserving and increasing good jobs for ourselves and our families (see below); (2) assuring affordable, available, quality health care on-island (including the maintenance of Medicare through fair health care provider reimbursements); and (3) repairing and expanding roads, sewers, water systems and other infrastructure to serve existing and growing populations (including my top statewide priorities as congressman, Honoapiilani Highway).
HOW CAN THE FEDERAL GOVERNMENT SUPPORT MAUI AND HAWAII'S ECONOMY? Please see my Growing our Economy (www.edcase.com/issues/growing_our_economy) and Strengthening Tourism (www.edcase.com/issues/tourism_agenda) agendas. I believe that growing our economy is and must be our top priority, for our country, Hawaii and Maui Nui. This because not only is our economy what provides us with the jobs and income to live our lives and take care of our families, but a strong economy provides the revenues to run our governments and deliver the core services we need. I've been fortunate to have had two full careers. One has been in Hawaii's private sector for 30 years, where I've advised businesses and people with their real-world concerns and also managed both of my law firms. The other has been in government for almost 20 years, where I've seen the positive and negative impacts government can have on our economy. From those experiences, I start always with the belief that economic prosperity comes from a true partnership between business and government, with business best taking the lead and government assuring the basics, providing a solid foundation, and making sure everyone plays fair and doesn't harm the public. In the big picture, it'll always be about reasonable and fair levels of taxation and regulation: too little and government can't function and citizens are harmed; too much and businesses can't thrive and jobs are lost. So my first actions as senator will be to get that balance right through a full review of federal taxation and regulation. I believe we must then focus nationally on four specific goals (the Four Ts). First, tax reform, because our tax code hasn't been reviewed in a generation and is simply unfair and crushingly complex. Second, technology, because we do and can continue to do this well, best in the world, including energy and health care as an innovation industry for Hawaii. Third, trade, because we prosper only as we trade with the rest of the world, and especially, for Hawaii, the Asia-Pacific. Fourth, training, because education for our youth and retraining for our workers will drive economic growth. For Hawaii and Maui Nui, we must first strengthen what we already do well, like tourism, which will increasingly depend on making sure our international visitors, such as from China, can visit us easily. But with focus we can also grow many other sectors, such as diversified agriculture, education and health care.
WHAT TAX INCREASES WOULD YOU SUPPORT, AND IN WHAT AREAS SHOULD TAXES BE REDUCED? Please see my Balancing our Budget (www.edcase.com/issues/balancing_our_budget) agenda. I don't support any federal tax increases and don't believe we can afford any more federal tax reductions until we get our federal budget back in shape. I did vote against the temporary Bush tax cuts for upper income taxpayers and would let them expire; some view this as a tax increase on upper income taxpayers, but my view is that it is the expiration of temporary cuts that were not sustainable, necessary or affordable when passed.
WHAT CAN BE DONE TO REDUCE EXCESSIVE FEDERAL SPENDING? Please see my Balancing Our Budget agenda. First, there remains excessive fraud, waste and abuse in our federal government which must be eliminated. Second, at least until we get our federal budget back in shape (and in many areas even after), we must level out the growth in federal spending across the board. Third, in some areas we must reduce, including defense, which accounts for almost 20 percent of our total budget itself, in specific programs like expensive and unproven advanced weapons system development that are unaffordable and unnecessary to national defense.
HOW CAN THE FEDERAL GOVERNMENT RESOLVE THE COUNTRY'S ENERGY CONCERNS? WHAT ROLE DOES GOVERNMENT PLAY? Please see my Assuring Our Energy Needs (www.edcase.com/issues/assuring_our_energy_needs) agenda. The federal government cannot do it alone, but can, as laid out in my agenda, pursue a leading partnership role, especially in areas such as energy savings and alternate/sustainable energy research and development. Hawaii and Maui Nui can play a leading role in R&D and implementation of alternate energy sources especially suited to Hawaii such as solar and tropical agriculture biomass.
WHY SHOULD VOTERS PICK YOU IN THE PRIMARY? Our choice of our next United States senator is a critical election for Maui Nui, Hawaii and our country. For Hawaii, we are asking who can best represent and fight for us in D.C. as our next junior senator and likely as our next senior senator. For our country, we are asking who is best willing and able and committed to providing the strong, effective leadership in the Senate necessary to solve our nations' challenges and get the job done, both today and for the next generation. That will take the right mix of background, knowledge, experience, beliefs, values, abilities and commitment to represent not just part but all of Hawaii well and to provide needed national leadership through challenges known and unknown. My roots are four generations deep in Hawaii, including one generation, my great-grandparents', on Maui. I've worked and played throughout Maui Nui my whole life, from small kid time through my private sector career and as Maui Nui's U. S. congressman, when I kept in touch all the time through my 172 districtwide Talk Story community events, including dozens throughout Maui, Molokai and Lanai. I know Maui Nui - its past and present - and I care about its future because I know it's special. I also know D.C. from my seven years on Capitol Hill - three with U. S. Senator Spark Matsunaga and four as your congressman - and know how to get things done there and how to make D.C. work best for Hawaii. With growing our economy our number one priority, I know from my 30 years in our private sector what it takes to keep and grow good businesses and jobs. I believe that my beliefs and values are mainstream Hawaii and America and will enable me to represent all of Hawaii in the U. S. Senate. And finally, I've proven throughout my career in both government and business that I can and will provide strong, effective leadership that's honest with all, includes all, preserves our values and makes fair decisions. In sum, I believe that I offer what we need to serve Hawaii and our country long and well in our U. S. Senate in these critical times.
SOUND OFF... ANYTHING YOU WANT TO SAY? None of the above and the many other challenges we face can or will be overcome unless and until we break Washington out of its current gridlock and get D.C. back to work. Please see my Fixing Washington ( www.edcase.com/issues/fixing_washington) agenda. Let's first recognize what is causing this paralyzing, discouraging, harmful and just plain embarrassing gridlock. First, D.C. today is about partisan extremes, with each side representing a small minority of Americans but believing its way is the only way, leaving the great majority of Americans without any real representation, and obstructing any real efforts to find mainstream solutions to our challenges. Second, D.C. today is about inside D.C. protecting its turf through expanding special interest money and influence, at the expense of the great majority of Americans and similarly preventing any real consensus problem-solving. The gridlock is heightened by some old rules like the filibuster and hold, but fixing them alone won't accomplish what we need. Because ultimately Congress is just about the members we elect to serve there; they have the power to break through the gridlock, if they want to and if their voters tell them to. That will take more strong and independent leaders in D.C. who represent mainstream America rather than the political extremes, are not beholden to the inside D.C. special interests, believe we can and must do better, and are willing, able and committed to getting the job done. Just electing more members from Washington and for Washington is not going to fix Washington; the status quo can't and won't break through the gridlock. I believe in mainstream problem-solving and am not obligated to the inside-D.C. status quo. If elected, I would view my marching orders from the voters of Hawaii to be to find my fellow senators who similarly want to face up to and solve our challenges in new and better ways and work as hard as we can to do just that.
Mazie Hirono, 64
OCCUPATION: U.S. Representative (HI-02)
EDUCATIONAL BACKGROUND: Kaimuki High School; B.A., University of Hawaii-Manoa; J.D., Georgetown University Law Center
COMMUNITY INVOLVEMENT: Board of Visitors for the U.S. Coast Guard Academy (former board member); Blood Bank of Hawaii (former trustee); Nuuanu YMCA (former board member); Moiliili Community Center (former board member)
POLITICAL EXPERIENCE: U.S. Representative, 2007-present; Hawaii Lieutenant Governor, 1994-2002; State Representative, 1981-94
WHY ARE YOU RUNNING FOR THE U.S. SENATE? The people of Hawaii are looking for a U.S. senator that shares our values. This means electing a senator that will take care of our kupuna by protecting Social Security and Medicare, and a senator that will focus on taking care of our keiki by providing them with a public education system that gives them the skills they need to succeed in school and in life. We are in the worst economic situation since the depression, and there is the value of people being able to take care of their families by creating jobs and improving the economy. Hawaii needs a U.S. senator who can work collaboratively and reach across the aisle to get the job done for the people of Hawaii. I'm running to get our middle class families back to work and build a stronger, more sustainable future for Hawaii. I believe the record I have built as a state legislator, lieutenant governor and as a member of the U.S. House of Representatives have demonstrated the collaborative leadership and the Hawaii values I will take to the U.S. Senate if I am honored to have your support.
TALKING TO PEOPLE ON THE NEIGHBOR ISLANDS, WHAT ARE THE THREE BIGGEST ISSUES IN THE 2012 ELECTIONS? In the conversations I have with people across Maui County, I hear their concerns about the status of the county's infrastructure, job creation and building a stronger, more sustainable future for Maui County and our state by reducing our dependency on imported oil and food.
As a member of the House Transportation and Infrastructure Committee, I have worked hard to make sure Maui and Hawaii have resources available to improve our infrastructure. Transportation and infrastructure development is critical to our state, not only because of our geographic isolation, but also for the jobs that it helps create across the islands. After listening to the needs of the Hawaii Department of Transportation, I worked to secure a change to FAA calculations which resulted in an additional $6 million for Hawaii airports for each of the next four years to build additional security lines to cut down on travel time for residents and visitors. This funding will improve customer safety and create local jobs. I supported the recent highway funding bill will bring $145 million each of the next two years for road projects across Hawaii.
Our small businesses have worked hard to survive in this fragile economy. That's why I've fought to ensure and increase small business owners' access to capital, so they can keep their doors open and their businesses operating. I've also supported tax credits that enable Hawaii's small businesses to make investments in needed equipment as well as hire and keep employees.
Now is also the time to make investments in innovation. That's why I've championed the Small Business Innovation Research (SBIR) program and the Small Business Technology Transfer (STTR) program which were recently renewed by Congress. These programs help give small innovators access to financial support that helps them develop their ideas while helping to meet the needs of our federal agencies. These are great examples of how smart, cost-effective investments in public-private partnerships create jobs through innovation.
My sustainability plan for clean energy and the jobs it creates includes supporting incentives for more fuel efficient, American-made cars and trucks, research and development of clean, locally-made renewable fuels, and fighting to redirect the billions of dollars in outrageous taxpayer subsidies Washington currently gives away to oil and gas companies toward research, development, and deployment of new clean energy technologies like energy-efficient manufacturing.
We also have to boost both the production and the sale of Hawaii's local foods. That's why I've worked to help our local farmers - from assistance with agricultural water development projects and conservation assistance to ensuring research funding to address Hawaii's unique crops was provided. In the U.S. Senate, I will work to expand the federal "Know Your Farmer, Know Your Food" program to promote local crops, and establish programs in Hawaii's supermarkets to recognize local products.
My record and plan for building a more sustainable future here in Hawaii is why my campaign has been endorsed both the Sierra Club and the League of Conservation Voters.
My energy and agriculture sustainability plan can be found at mazieforhawaii.com.
HOW CAN THE FEDERAL GOVERNMENT SUPPORT MAUI AND HAWAII'S ECONOMY? The federal government can be a partner in providing investments to Maui County and the state's economy. On Maui, this partnership is critical in improving our infrastructure, including the Kahului Airport - which is foundational to the county's economy - as well as providing water to our residents and farmers.
Kahului Airport is a vital component of Maui's transportation system. It's also a gateway to the island for visitors. But the wait to make it through the security lines can be brutal. In these tough economic times, making the type of upgrade needed is difficult. Working with Hawaii's Department of Transportation, I fought for and won a special amendment to the Federal Aviation Administration that will bring $6 million more a year to Hawaii's busiest airports - Honolulu and Kahului. This will help with needed upgrades at Kahului, so we can better serve our residents, businesses and guests.
The Federal Transit Association is a key source of funding for Maui and Hawaii's public transit system. I recently worked with Senator Inouye to secure $800,000 to improve bus shelters on Maui and install solar powered lighting, bike racks and recycling containers at bus stops across the island.
Access to water is vital to a sustainable future of energy and food independence in Hawaii. Maui faces challenges that must be addressed in order to provide the water needed by residents and agricultural businesses - shortage of clean water for drinking, problems with injection well leaching in to the ocean and contamination of the water supply with lead are serious problems. Developing agricultural water resources in the Upcountry Maui region is essential for growing the area's unique agriculture. These investments will provide water for farmers on Maui and release more potable water for Valley Island families.
WHAT TAX INCREASES WOULD YOU SUPPORT, AND IN WHAT AREAS SHOULD TAXES BE REDUCED? We must take a fair and balanced approach to deficit and debt reduction as well as tax reform. I support letting the Bush tax cuts for the wealthiest 2 percent expire, as well as the billions in corporate tax giveaways to the big oil companies and companies that ship jobs overseas. I support keeping taxes low on workers and their families, as well as small businesses. We can't cut our way out of this economic downturn; we have to grow our economy by creating jobs through infrastructure and clean energy and keep our tourism industry strong.
WHAT CAN BE DONE TO REDUCE EXCESSIVE FEDERAL SPENDING? We must examine potential areas of government waste, fraud and abuse. I have identified five such areas which would yield approximately $2.87 trillion over ten years: ending wars in the Middle East ($1.4 trillion); ending the Bush tax cuts ($830 billion); cutting Medicare waste and fraud ($600 billion); ending oil company tax breaks ($41 billion); and improving the management of federal oil and gas resources ($1.75 billion).
HOW CAN THE FEDERAL GOVERNMENT RESOLVE THE COUNTRY'S ENERGY CONCERNS? WHAT ROLE DOES GOVERNMENT PLAY? The federal government can be a strong partner with our small and medium-sized businesses, universities, homeowners, and state and local governments by offering tax incentives for research, development and deployment of clean energy and biofuel technology; helping to improve energy efficiency for consumer products, cars and homes; incentivizing widespread investments in cleaner transportation options; and also supporting critical research and adoption of a broad range of clean energy sources like what we have here in Hawaii: wind, solar and ocean energy.
Hawaii will also benefit from our strong partnership with the military charged with increasing efficiency and reducing fuel consumption on ships by 15 percent by 2010. The military's initiatives in biofuels and other alternative energy projects should lead to technology opportunities for our private sector
WHY SHOULD VOTERS PICK YOU IN THE PRIMARY? Our next U.S. senator should share our Hawaii values of equal opportunity and fair play. I have a record of collaborative leadership from the time I served in the Hawaii State Legislature to my two terms as Hawaii's lieutenant governor. In the U.S. House, I serve the people of Hawaii as a doer, not a talker. As an immigrant to this country, I deeply understand how foundational education is, and my personal experiences have influenced my work and leadership on early childhood education.
I have developed a strong record and vision for jobs, energy, education - the issues that are most critical for building a stronger Hawaii economy and greater opportunity for our people. In Hawaii, we may be dependent on imports for food and energy, but we are not a dependent people. We have everything we need to build a stronger, more sustainable Hawaii. What we need is collaborative leadership rooted in Hawaii values, and that's exactly what I'll provide in the U.S. Senate.
Our campaign to create jobs and build a stronger, more sustainable Hawaii has been endorsed by a broad coalition of individuals and organizations, including: EMILY's List, Equality Hawaii Action Fund, Hawaii Carpenters Union, Hawaii Government Employees Association, Hawaii Firefighters Association, Hawaii Lodging and Tourism Association, Hawaii State Teachers Association, League of Conservation Voters, National Committee to Protect Social Security and Medicare, Planned Parenthood, Seafarers International, and the Sierra Club.
SOUND OFF... ANYTHING YOU WANT TO SAY? The stakes in this campaign could not be higher. National Republicans need just four seats to win the Senate majority, and they have their sights set on winning Hawaii. The GOP-leaning U.S. Chamber of Commerce has already spent $750,000 here in Hawaii to help Linda Lingle reform her image in a positive "bipartisan" manner, while they are running millions of dollars of negative ads on the Mainland to defeat President Obama and help Republicans take control of the Senate. We may be outspent, but we will not be outworked in this election.
Hawaii deserves a U.S. senator who will consistently put our local values ahead of national politics. The differences between me, my Democratic primary opponent, Ed Case, and the likely Republican nominee, Linda Lingle, are stark. I am committed to Hawaii's ideals of equal opportunity and fair play. Though the economic challenges we face are great, we cannot balance the budget on the backs of our seniors, women or veterans. I am committed to strengthening Social Security and Medicare. I oppose raising the retirement age for Social Security; my opponents do not. I am the only candidate who stood steadfast against the Iraq War. My opponents are hesitant to support President Obama's job plan, and I will take every opportunity to work with our president to get our families working again.
In the U.S. Senate, I will never stop fighting for the people of Hawaii. I humbly ask for your vote on Aug. 11.