I just had to share some thoughts on Tulsi Gabbard’s recent vacating of her City Council seat. Does she truly “want to do what’s right” for the 55,000 constituents of District 6 by saving a paltry $150,000? At what social cost? Both Gabbard and former city Councilman Jon Yoshimura served under Senator Daniel Akaka and are hardly strangers. They have obviously discussed Yoshimura’s intent to fill or at least his interest in Gabbard’s seat. How could people this close to each other, both having already been city Councilmembers, not do so? If they didn’t, this whole situation is one gargantuan coincidence!
While I appreciate that Hawaii could save $150,000 by avoiding a special election for the now-vacant District 6 City Council seat by adding a ballot to the general election, there are concessions that could drastically outweigh such a relatively small dollar amount. After all, District 6 has a constituency of 55,000 people. The cost of a Special Election for District 6 would only be $2.73 per constituent at the most. That’s less expensive than a large soda at Zippy’s Restaurant. than a happy hour beer. It’s barely more than a single bus ride.
The general election is in 88 days. That doesn’t leave much time for these unknown candidates to get out there and canvas a 55,000-constituent district. It doesn’t leave candidates much time to raise $30,000 for a single mailer to merely introduce themselves. It doesn’t give candidates much time to reserve space for town hall meetings to address the public. It doesn’t give candidates much time to organize any type of debate or collective meeting.
Because time is so short, it will take lots of money-in-hand for the candidates to address the public and make themselves known. The side-effect of Hawaii saving $2.73 per District 6 constituent is that the election is quite literally being given to whoever can financially afford to advertise. That narrows down the race to two people: Representative Karl Rhoads and Yoshimura. Perhaps Rhoads was thinking exactly this when he made the statistically correct statement, “I have a good chance of winning, probably 50/50 or better but you have to balance that with being in the House of Representatives which is an interesting and productive job too.”
Campaigning for the US Presidency starts two years before the general election. Even at the State Representative level, campaigning starts at least 6 months before the General Election. Two and a half months for a City Council election? The obvious conclusion is that the constituency will largely vote at random. Or for the candidate whose name they have merely heard once or twice before. Clearly, this is not the way to vote for public office!
I live in District 6 and I’d be happy to pay $2.73 to give my candidates a chance to talk to me. $2.73 for me to get to research my candidates. All of Hawaii should demand a special election for District 6! Effectively forcing a random or purchased election the way this last-minute slipped-into-the-General-Election election is doing is extremely un-American and shouldn’t even be legal! In a situation like this, a Special Election granting more time for constituents to reach informed competent voting decisions should be mandated.
As Americans, it is our duty to vote competently and responsibly. Not randomly or hurriedly. Do your duty. No matter who you are or what District you live in, demand a special election for District 6.