Organized labor and environmental activists often seem bitter enemies on Maui. Union guys see the tree-huggers as fighting the very construction projects that give them jobs, while the tree-huggers see the union guys making a living by paving over the entire island. One of the ironies is that while labor has stayed strong in Maui’s Democratic Party, most of the island’s environmentally friendly officials—Councilwoman Jo Anne Johnson, former Councilman Wayne Nishiki and even Mayor Alan Arakawa—are all Republicans.
But now a new national effort may return some of the environmentalist label to Maui’s Democratic Party. Called the Apollo Alliance, the non-profit organization seeks to reunite labor and environmental activists nation-wide, and has already received the endorsement of dozens of organizations, including Sierra Club, the AFL-CIO, Greenpeace USA, the International Brotherhood of Teamsters and the Union of Concerned Scientists.
Here on Maui, the Apollo Alliance has already endorsed three Democratic candidates for the primary election: state Senator Shan Tsutsui (4th District), state Representative Mele Carroll (13th District) and newcomer 11th District Representative candidate Steve West.
“The three candidates are relatively young,” said Ian Chan Hodges, a local Democratic activist and past chairman of the Maui County Democratic Party. “They’re under 50, which is young for us Democrats.”
What’s next? Mayoral candidate Dain Kane getting a thumbs-up from the Sierra Club? Environmental agitator and County Council candidate Lucienne de Naie sharing a stage with the International Longshore and Warehouse Union?
Maybe that’s a bit of a stretch at this point. Still, these things have to start somewhere.
“Candidates with both endorsements should do well,” said Chan Hodges. “Pulling these together is the only way to take on [Governor Linda] Lingle.”