OCCUPATION: Attorney, small business owner, former State Senator
RUNNING FOR: U.S. Congress, 2nd District
MAUI TIMEWEEKLY: Why should people vote for you?
MATTHEW MATSUNAGA: Of all the candidates running, I have the most experience in Washington, D.C. I lived and worked there, and know how Congress should work. I know the issues intimately of the 2nd congressional district and I can achieve positive results. What also stands out is my business experience, my knowledge of small business in Hawai’i.
What’s the biggest problem facing your district?
I think the biggest problem is also the biggest problem facing America as a whole. I think the middle class is getting pinched by high gas and electricity prices. Record deficits are threatening to bury the middle class. The middle class needs help. Everybody wants the same thing: to be able to live comfortably, work hard, raise a family, send kids to college. Hawai’i’s families are working too hard just to fill their gas tanks.
What do you intend to do about it?
We can take five steps to point America in the right direction. (Detailing his five-step platform): Number one, help working families. The average middle class citizen received $17 relief. It’s clear that millionaires don’t need tax help, the middle class do. We should also make college tuition deductible. Number two, help small businesses. Three, energize America: develop an effective renewable energy policy. Four, keep America competitive. Create an educated, skilled workforce. And five, restore fiscal responsibility. We have an $8.35 trillion national debt. That’s $28,000 per person!
What are your feelings on Hawaiian Sovereignty?
I support the Akaka Bill. Well I did—it didn’t pass. We need Federal recognition to defend against attacks on Native Hawaiians entitlements and programs.
What’s the most difficult thing that ever happened to you?
The death of my father; and later, the death of my mother. Just overcoming the severe emotional loss of the two people who were the foundation of all my values and beliefs.
What’s the most embarrassing thing that ever happened to you?
Do you know what a Kanpei toast is? I was giving a traditional Kanpei toast to a group of Japanese dignitaries. So I said, “Kanpei!” and got a nice response. I said it again and got a very quiet response. Once more, and I heard nothing. It turns out that unlike banzai, kanpei is supposed to be said just once.
What ’s the last book you read?
I was reading excerpts of Barak Obama’s book, Call to Renewal. He’s the guy who may be our first black president.
What’s your favorite thing about Maui?
The diversity of its people. That, and the mochi! You guys have the best mochi!
If you had to sacrifice either George W. Bush or Dick Cheney in order to save the world, which one would it be?
I’d have to sacrifice Bush. As he said, “When in Rome, do as the Romanians do.” Though I’d greatly miss his quotes, I’d have to sacrifice the Chief of Staff. MTW