Cover Story continued

Keiko Bonk, Green Party candidate for state House (distr. 21) in the general election.
Image: Shuzo Uemoto

Hawaii State Legislature E-lection

A look at some key races and issues, from an environmental standpoint.

All of Hawaii ’s 25 State Senate and 51 State House seats are up for grabs this year, due to district reapportionments.

Naturally, every candidate–incumbent or challenger–claims to be a champion of Hawaii’s natural environment. But several questionable bills emerged last session that sought to expedite development, so this simply can’t be true.


Following is a brief rundown of key primary races in O’ahu districts. As indicators of candidates’ green cred or lack thereof, we’ve examined how they voted on two key bills. First is SB755, which seeks to exempt certain DLNR and DOT projects of the governor’s choosing from certain aspects of the environmental review process (“‘Aina vs. Econ,”April 11). It was considered by Hawaii ’s environmental groups to be among the most appalling of bills heard last session.

Second is SB2927, which seeks to facilitate commercial development of mixed use, transit-oriented areas by creating a fast track process for developers to expedite rezoning. Projects could be approved in a fraction of the time they take now simply by bypassing any public participation in the process (“Faster Growth,” March 14).

Neither bill survived, but we can expect them to resurface in 2013. One controversial bill that did make it through–and was signed into law by governor Abercrombie on June 27–was SB2785, which seeks to establish a regulatory structure for the implementation of an interisland cable project. State Senate:

District 11: Carol Fukunaga (D) vs. Brian Taniguchi (D). Fukunaga was among the introducers of SB755. She also voted ‘yes, with reservations’ on the cable bill. Taniguchi voted ‘yes with reservations’ on SB755.

District 17: Clarence Nishihara (D) vs. Alex Sonson (D): Nishihara voted ‘yes’ on SB755 and SB2927. Sonson is an attorney and was a House member from 2002 to 2008.

District 18: Michelle Kidani (D) vs. Michael Magaoay (D): Kidani voted ‘yes’ on SB755 and SB2927. Magaoay is a former House member.

District 19: Will Espero (D) vs. Roger Lacuesta (D). Espero voted ‘yes’ on SB755, and SB2927. District 25: Levani Lipton (D) vs. Pohai Ryan (D) vs. Laura Thielen (D). Ryan voted ‘yes’ on SB755 and ‘yes, with reservations’ on SB2927 and the cable bill. Only Thielen says she will oppose development fast-tracking bills like SB 755 and SB 2927.

Neighbor Island district to watch: Senator District 7 has non- partisan anti-wind activist Kanohowailuku Helm (N) in the race. In order for a non partisan candidate to proceed to the general election, he must garner at least 10 percent of the votes cast in that district. Incumbent Democrat Kalani English is running against Barbara Haliniak.

BONUS B.S. WARNING: State Senate Districts 13, 15 and 24 have incumbent Democrats running completely unopposed. Senators Suzanne Chun Oakland (D), Glenn Wakai (D) and Jill Tokuda (D), respectively, were all introducers of SB755. State House:

District 19: Bertrand Kobayashi (D) vs. Brian Yamane (D). Both Democratic are former state lawmakers; Yamane is the father of District 37 House member Ryan Yamane. Incumbent Barbara Marumoto (R) is not running for reelection. District 2o: Calvin Say (D) vs. Dwight Synan (D). Speaker of the House Calvin Say voted yes on SB755 and SB2927. He was also alleged to have been the one holding up the state budget in the final days of the 2012 session, insisting that the Senate accept SB755 with the House’s amendments. Dems should vote Synan in primary. See sidebar for a Green option in the general election. District 21; Scott Nishimoto (D) vs. Clifton Takamura (D). Incumbent Nishimoto voted no on SB755 and SB2927. Takamura is a former McCully-Moiliili Neighborhood Board Member.

District 24: Della Au Belatti (D) vs. Kimberly Case (D). Belatti opposed both SB755 and SB2927. Case has served on the Manoa Neighborhood Board.

District 26: Scott Saiki (D) vs. Lei Ahu Isa (D) vs. Ryan Kapniai (D). Saiki opposed both SB755 and SB2927. Ahu Isa is a former House member.

District 27: Corrinne Wei Ching (R) vs. Brian Kim (R). Ching voted no on SB755 and SB2927 and yes, with reservations, on the cable bill.

District 29: Karl Rhoads (D) vs. Daniel Holt (D). Rhoads voted yes, with reservations on SB755 and in favor of SB2927.

District 30: Romy Cachola (D) vs. Valerie Velasco (D). Neither was a part of last year’s session; however, City Councilmember Cachola has been on the taxpayer payroll since 1984, and Velasco is a fresh, young politico.

District 31: Lynne Gutierrez (D) vs. Lei Sharsh (D) vs. Danny Villaruz (D). Three unknowns are fighting to take on incumbent Aaron Johanson (R) in the general election.

District 33: Heather Giugni (D) vs. Mark Takai (D). Giugni and Takai both opposed SB755 and SB2927. District 34: Gregg Takayama (D) vs. Eloise Tungpalan (D). Open seat. Tungpalan is a former senator among several former legislators trying to return to the Capitol in 2013.

District 36: Mel Apana (R) vs. Beth Fukumoto (R), are competing to take on District 38 (???CK) incumbent Democrat Marilyn Lee who voted no on SB755, but yes on SB2927.

District 40: Kurt Favella (D) vs. Chris Manabat (D) vs. Rose Martinez (D) vs. Romy Mindo (D) vs. Sam Puletasi (D) vs. Joseph Rattner (D). An open seat in the Republican-leaning Ewa district spurs a crowded Democratic primary race. Mindo is a former House lawmaker.

District 41; Rita Cabanilla (D) vs. Matt LoPresti (D). Cabanilla voted in favor of SB755 and SB2927. LoPresti is an Ewa Beach Neighborhood Board Member.

District 43: Hanalei Aipoalani (D) vs. Karen Awana (D) vs. Lesie McKeague-Gomes (D) vs. Cynthia Rezentes (D). District 44 incumbent Karen Awana voted ‘yes’ on SB755 and ‘yes, with reservations’ on SB2927.

District 44: Jake Bradshaw (D) vs. Jo Jordan (D). District 45 incumbent Jordan voted ‘yes’ on SB755 and SB2927.

District 45: Jake Bradshaw (D) vs. Ollie Lunasco (D). Open seat, tossup. Lunasco is a former State House lawmaker. Bradshaw shows promise of deviating from the status quo.]

District 48; Jessica Wooley (D) vs. Pono Chong (D). Wooley voted against SB755 and SB2927, and is the only House member being challenged in the primary who opposed the cable bill. Majority Leader Chong, the District 49 incumbent, voted in favor of all the above.

The Rules: Make sure your vote counts

First things first, find out which district you live in. As if things were’nt confusing enough with reapportionment, state House and Senate districts have different numbers for the same district. Find where you are at by going to http://[hawaii.gov], or call the Office of Elections at 453-VOTE.

Hawaii conducts a single party primary election, meaning that each voter is allowed to vote for one party only (or go nonpartisan) on their primary ballot. Inconsistencies will render your ballot worthless, so remember to follow the rules.

If it’s any comfort, Albert Einstein defined insanity as doing the same thing over and over and expecting different results.

A breath of fresh air

The Weekly recently heard from Keiko Bonk, who will be running for the state House in the general election as a Green Party candidate in District 20 (Kaimuki, Palolo, St. louis Wilhelmina and Maunalani ), challenging House Speaker Calvin Say.

“I came into this race on the last day of filing. I usually have more time to get ready for a campaign, but I wasn’t sure my Kaimuki house was moved into this district with the reapportionment until the last minute,” wrote Bonk, who moved to Honolulu from Hilo ten years ago.

“We bought my grandparents’ house, and have been enjoying our neighborhood. I think the neighborhoods in this district are ready for a Green Party candidate. I am out every day trying to reach the people in my district and there is much enthusiasm about having a progressive choice in the general election,” Bonk continued. She opposes the development fast-track bills and is for GMO labeling. “If another island wants to produce more alternative energy than they can use and export it to Oahu, then would be the time, but we aren’t there yet,” Bonk says about discussing an interisland cable.“Speaker Say has been in this seat for 36 years or so. It sounds like a good time for ‘regime change’ at the Legislature,” Bonk concluded.