RUNNING FOR: US Congress, Second District
CURRENT OCCUPATION: State Senator, 21st District
MAUI TIME WEEKLY: Why should people vote for you?
COLLEEN HANABUSA: First of all, I have my roots in the Second Congressional District. Also, I believe that if you look at the qualities one needs in Congress, I have those qualities—and you really have to look at our records to determine that. The qualities that I have demonstrated have been independence, the ability to analyze issues, to take difficult positions, and to get bills and legislation passed.
What do you think Hawai`i is lacking most in its representation in Congress?
Right now, Hawai`i is lacking a sense of a team. In the House of Representatives, I get a clear sense that [Neil] Abercrombie and [Ed] Case have cancelled each other out. When you only have two, you have to have that teamwork.
What accomplishment in your political career are you most proud of?
That would have to be the advancements in education on the Waianae coast, which I represent. We have instilled pride and hope in the next generation—our future leaders—so that they will become whatever they want to be. And the programs we set up can also be a template for others to follow; it can be copied everywhere.
For example, take the Searider Productions at Waianae High School, by far the best in the state. We took it from almost a closet to a state-of-the-art media center in the last eight years. Our kids are extremely talented; they just need a venue to express their artistic talent.
Where would you find funding in the budget for the various social programs you advocate?
I think the most obvious place where we are spending our money is in the war in Iraq. I have always opposed the war, and I believe we should withdraw by the end of 2007. So yes, one area where I would look at closely to take funding from would be the defense budget.
What are your feelings on Hawaiian sovereignty?
I sat on the Hawaiian Affairs Committee for all eight years I was in the Senate, and for six of those years I chaired it. I am a strong believer that the federal government has to establish a political relationship with Native Hawaiians.
Sovereignty, however, takes on different kinds of meanings to different people. I do not support a position that would include secession from the US, but I do support a process of self-determination. For that reason, I supported versions of the Akaka Bill and what it intended to do.
What is the first thing that comes to mind when you think of George W. Bush?
[Laughing] Amazed he’s president. Actually, I’m at a loss for words. “Shouldn’t be president” is maybe the wording I want.
What’s the most difficult thing you’ve ever had to do?
Making the decision to run for office that first time. Because of who I am, I knew that it would be a dedication of a lot of my hard work and energy. I believed that if I made that commitment I would have to give my best to my community. Having made that decision, however, I have enjoyed every moment of it.
What was the last book you read?
Our Endangered Values by President Carter.
What is your favorite thing about Maui?
I love the diversity of Maui. You have Wailuku, Upcountry, Lahaina—Lahaina intrigues me a lot. Even Molokai and Lanai are still part of Maui County. You have every kind of community you could ever want to interact with. And the people of those communities are great, too. MTW