Running for public office is expensive. Hiring a staff, putting on events, getting registered voter lists and buying advertisements and signs can cost a lot. But everyone running for office has the opportunity to run their campaign either partially or completely on public funds. By doing so, candidates are less likely to take money from private sectors or firms therefore less likely to owe any favors to their donors.
On July 27, the League of Women Voters of Hawaii reported that 43 candidates–14 percent of the 236 candidates running for office in Hawaii–are receiving partial public funds for their campaigns.
Ann Shaver, League President, said that, “Hopefully all 43 candidates will follow through to actually participate in this progressive program, and others will also file to use these funds.”
Of these 43 candidates running for office in Hawaii, 10 from Maui County have filed for the use of partial public funding for their election campaigns. Here they are, in no particular order:
• Joseph Blackburn, running for Maui County Council, Waihee, Waikapu and Wailuku seat.
• Yuki Sugimura, running for the County Council, Upcountry seat.
• Richard DeLeon running for the County Council, South Maui seat.
• Trinette Furtado running for the County Council, Makawao, Haiku, and Paia seat.
• Dain Kane running for the County Council, Wailuku-Waihee-Waikapu seat.
• Hana Steel running for the County Council, Makawao, Haiku and Paia seat.
• Stacey Moniz running for the County Council, Upcountry seat.
• Mike White running for the County Council, Makawao, Haiku and Paia seat.
• Gabriel Johnson running for the County Council, Lanai seat.
• Nick Nikhilananda running for Hawaii State House of Representatives, District 13, North Shore/East Maui, Molokai, Lanai.
“We encourage voters to consider how candidates pay their campaign expenses, in order to make a fully-informed election choice,” said Shaver.
To be eligible for public funds, candidates must be on the ballot and actually have an opponent. They must also agree to an audit of all the public funds they use and keep an expense report that the Campaign Spending Commission can review. Sounds pretty easy right? So how much do candidates expect to get from the public funds?
First candidates must “raise the minimum amount of qualifying contributions required by law,” which for the Maui County Council is $5,000. For the state House, candidates only have to raise $1,500.
Those candidates who qualify can’t use their own funds and individual contributions must be $100 or less. The contributions must be made by residents of Hawaii and cannot be a loan or a non-monetary donation.
Candidates running for the primary election, have “from January 1 of the year of a general election through the day of the primary election, or 9 months prior to a special election through the day of a special election” to raise the funds in order to qualify for public funds and those who work hard at it can get a lot in return.
When candidates qualify, they’re eligible for the maximum amount of public funds, a whopping $16,033 for those running for Maui County Council. For House races, candidates are able to receive a maximum of $2,903.
The Campaign Spending Commission also limits what candidates can use public funds for, such has advertisements, banners, bumper stickers, office supplies, t-shirts and transportation between islands for those with multi-island constituencies.
The Primary Election takes place on Aug. 13 and absentee voter ballots are currently being mailed out currently. Early voting at the Maui County Clerk’s Office starts Aug. 1. You can track candidates donations by visiting the website www.hawaii.gov/campaign/ for a quick visualization or by visiting https://csc.hawaii.gov/CFSPublic/ReportList.php to see a complete itemized list of all campaign donations.
Photo: MerzPerson/Wikimedia Commons