Ideally, an election is more than simply filling in the square next to a party affiliation. It should be about more than simply articulating a person’s privileges or bigotries. It should achieve more than quantifying the effects of propaganda and misinformation.
Democracy requires real, meaningful elections, and that means voters need to have information. Not memes, GIFs or even Daily Show monologues that “eviscerate” some tin-plated has-been. Even with the near-pervasiveness of social media, the best sources of authentic election news are still the tried and true news organizations (what us old guys used to call “newspapers”). Though a shadow of what they were even a decade ago, these news organizations still function as valuable gatekeepers that let us know what candidates really do and say.
For the following 2016 General Election endorsements, we’ve tried to base our decisions on a mix of our own political leanings and our need for actual, verifiable candidate news and information. The results, as is usual in these cases, don’t fall along any rigid partisan line. The stakes are simply too high this time around–and that goes for the nation as well as Maui County.
The election takes place on Tuesday, Nov. 8. Early voting in Hawaii began on Oct. 25. Late voter registration will go until Nov. 5. For more information, go to Elections.hawaii.gov.
Nice that we get to start off with an easy call. Clinton is one of the most intelligent and experienced individuals to win a major party’s presidential nomination. She’s not perfect, but we’ve endorsed far worse candidates in the past. It also helps that Donald Trump, her Republican opponent, is a lying, sociopathic, misogynist narcissist who can’t see beyond his own inherited wealth and white male privilege. Trump, who has spent a year stoking white supremacist fires, is scum, and it will be a genuine pleasure to see him humiliated on Nov. 8 as a world-class loser.
He’s one of the most liberal members of the U.S. Senate, Schatz is more than deserving of reelection. First appointed in the last days of 2012 after Senator Daniel Inouye died, Schatz won a 2014 special election to serve out the remainder of his term. A staunch environmentalist, Schatz most recently proposed the considerable expansion of the Papahanaumokuakea Marine National Monument, which President Barack Obama approved earlier this year.
U.S. REPRESENTATIVE, Dist II
While we didn’t endorse Gabbard in the Hawaii Primary Election (that honor fell to Maui’s own Shay Chan Hodges), we have no problem giving Gabbard the nod for the General Election. She’s an outstanding, outspoken legislator with experience few in Congress these days share. “As one of the few combat veterans to serve in Congress, I bring a unique voice of leadership based on firsthand experience to the decisions that Congress is charged to make with respect to authorizing a declaration of war, when and where our troops are sent into harm’s way, honoring and serving our veterans, and ensuring our military is focused on the safety and security of the American people,” Gabbard said in her 2016 MauiTime election questionnaire. Also, Republican Angela Aulani Kaaihue is a nutty racist who’s already been denounced by–wait for it–the Hawaii Republican Party. Woo!
STATE REPRESENTATIVE, Dist 8
Sorry, but we just don’t see a clear choice in this matchup between looooongtime Wailuku Democrat (and Speaker of the House!) Joe Souki and Republican Gil Rebolledo. Souki has been in office since 1982, and his working as a lobbyist for the chemical industry while voting against the state’s plastic bag ban a few years ago may not have met the definition of “conflict of interest,” but it certainly showed absurdly poor judgment (legislators shouldn’t be working as lobbyists for any industry, duh). As for Rebolledo, he told the Honolulu Star-Advertiser that he opposes greater disclosure for police officer misconduct records. Next!
STATE REPRESENTATIVE, Dist 10
Even if Republican challenger Chayne Marten (who has twice failed to unseat Democrat Angus McKelvey) hadn’t been arrested for sexual assault a few weeks ago, we still would be giving McKelvey our endorsement. He’s a good guy and solid legislator.
STATE REPRESENTATIVE, Dist 11
While we agree politically with Rep. Kaniela Ing, D–South Maui, his inexplicable ignoring of a bench warrant issued in February until MauiTime called him on in July raises serious questions about his judgment. As for his challenger, Republican Danny Pekus, well, no. In his MauiTime election questionnaire, we asked Pekus which legislator he would model himself after–a simple question, really. Turns out Pekus couldn’t name anyone. “I really do not have a model for my position that I am seeking,” he said. “I am coming from a completely different point of view because I feel that what we have been doing here, and across the nation, has not been working and that is why Americans are so fed up with government as a whole.”
STATE REPRESENTATIVE, Dist 13
Sure, why not. We endorsed Democratic challenger Alex Haller in the Primary, but DeCoite works for us. Hell, her vote against the loathsome HB 2501, which granted a special exemption for Alexander & Baldwin to keep using East Maui water (even though they’re ceasing all sugar operations at the end of this year) is enough in our books. Her challenger in the General Election is Green candidate Nick Nikhilananda, who is nice. Though he’s run for office many, many times, he has no real political experience.
OFFICE OF HAWAIIAN AFFAIRS, Hawaii Resident Trustee
Mililani Trask is an attorney and former OHA trustee. She knows a great deal about affordable housing, and is running (according to a July 26, 2016 Honolulu Star-Advertiser story) because she feels OHA is in dire need of reform. “OHA is not following the law,” she said. “The fiscal review found that trustees were not following their own fiscal policies and were spending the trust reserves at an alarming rate. There appears to be extensive patronage benefits and huge salaries for the corporate staff (exceeding $125,000.00 per year). This is contrary to the law that says that OHA should have an ‘administrator’ & ‘deputies’ paid at state rates.”
OFFICE OF HAWAIIAN AFFAIRS, At-Large Trustee
Yeah, we know there’s some contradiction in endorsing Trask, who says OHA itself is in bad shape, and Haunani Apoliona, who has been an OHA trustee for 20 years. Too bad. Look, we know OHA politics are inherently complex, but for us, it comes down to this: Apoliona takes the high incarceration rates for Hawaiians seriously. It’s a horrible problem, built on structural systemic racism. Her challenger, Keli‘i Akina, doesn’t seem to see it that way.
COUNTY COUNCILMEMBER (East Maui)
Bob Carroll is one of those stalwarts of Maui County politics. He doesn’t make a lot of noise, doesn’t get a lot of headlines, but you just feel better with him around. The fact that he drives from his home in Hana to Wailuku and back again every work day shows serious commitment to his job.
COUNTY COUNCILMEMBER (West Maui)
Yep, another election, another Elle Cochran endorsement. We’ve written about her many times, so no real need to go over her qualifications again. She’s one of the only reliable votes against big business/big landowners on the Council, so once again, she gets our support.
COUNTY COUNCILMEMBER (Wailuku-Waihee-Waikapu)
Alika Atay is a soft-spoken, thoughtful guy who wants to sit in the Maui County Council seat currently occupied by termed-out Mike Victorino. Yes, he was one of the plaintiffs in the Shaka Movement’s lawsuit against the County of Maui over that GMO moratorium ballot measure (which is still on appeal), but we like him because he has refreshing ideas about what the Council should stand for. “My top priority is community and people first before corporate gains,” he said in his MauiTime election questionnaire. “I believe that the health and welfare of the people in this island community should always be a priority when making community decisions. I usually incorporate good aloha aina values in my decision making process. In other words, what is the affects and effects of the decision on to the ‘aina, the water, air, ocean and most especially, our keiki and our kupuna.”
COUNTY COUNCILMEMBER (Kahului)
Unless news breaks that Guzman dismembered a nurse or kicked a puppy like a football, we will forever endorse him for reelection because of his strident criticism of Maui County Prosecutor J. D. Kim back in March 2015 during Kim’s reappointment hearing. Kim tried to prosecute MauiTime Publisher Tommy Russo a few years for photographing police officers on a public street–what we in the news biz call “journalism.” A judge threw out the case, but Kim’s office is appealing the decision. If Guzman thinks Kim has mismanaged the Prosecutor’s Office, then he’s right in our books.
COUNTY COUNCILMEMBER (South Maui)
KELLY TAKAYA KING
For a few elections now we’ve happily endorsed Don Couch for County Council, but not this year. His recent agreement with Mayor Alan Arakawa’s plan to “suspend” all community plan updates because he believes the planning process is “broken” is ignorant and reckless. There is nothing wrong with the county Planning Department’s process of updating community plans, but there is everything wrong with political leaders who blame the “process” when their land developer cronies get sidelined by community plan updates. We need councilmembers who trust community plans and agree to uphold them, and Kelly King fits that bill nicely.
COUNTY COUNCILMEMBER (Makawao-Haiku-Paia)
The fact that Trinette Furtado is running against County Council Chairperson Mike White would normally be enough to secure our endorsement, but in this case, we’d back her for whichever office she was seeking. Furtado is a single mother and political activist who’s agitated against cane burning, the Trans Pacific Partnership trade deal and the telescope atop Haleakala (the last one we actually support but we can’t win them all). She has drive, spirit and an unwavering commitment to justice.
COUNTY COUNCILMEMBER (Upcountry)
YUKI LEI KASHIWA SUGIMURA
Yuki Lei Sugimura has more than enough experience to make an effective County Council member. She’s worked for a former mayor (James “Kimo” Apana), the County Council and two U.S. Senators (Mazie Hirono and Daniel Akaka). Napua Greig Nakasone is intelligent and capable, but lacks Sugimura’s depth of knowledge concerning government and policy.
COUNTY COUNCILMEMBER (Lanai)
Gabriel Johnson is an invasive species technician who has served on the Maui County Commission on Persons with Disabilities and has worked on building sustainable fisheries around Lanai. His top priority, according to his July 14, 2016 candidate profile in the Honolulu Star-Advertiser? “Restore water to East Maui farms.” Oh yeah, he gets our vote.
COUNTY COUNCILMEMBER (Molokai)
STACY HELM CRIVELLO
Stacy Crivello has only been on the County Council one term, but she seems to be doing fine so far. She also believes in strengthening accountability at the Maui Police Department, according to a Aug. 31, 2016 Civil Beat story on her. “The Maui Police Department is strong with accountability,” she said. “However, if there were consideration to strengthen police accountability, I would create policies to hold the department accountable by reporting publicly for transparency. I would establish a working group to identify how we as the county of Maui, SHOPO, management and the Police Commission can be responsive to strengthen police accountability.” Sweet!
STATE CONSTITUTIONAL AMENDMENTS
Relating to Jury Trials in Civil Cases
This is the first of two state constitution amendments on the ballot. It would increase the threshold value in controversy requirement for a jury trial in a civil case from $5,000 to $10,000. While we know that our courts (like most courts in the U.S.) have a significant backlog of cases, and that this measure might lessen some of that by making it more difficult for people to seek jury trials, the measure would send the unmistakable signal that some people’s rights simply aren’t valuable enough to pursue.
Relating to the Disposition of Excess Revenues
Ok, this constitutional amendment is a bit complex. Right now, whenever the state runs a budget surplus for two consecutive years, the Legislature has to either return the “excess revenue” to the taxpayers or deposit the money into various funds for emergency use later. If this amendment passes, it would add two more options for the money: paying off debt service for general obligation bonds or pension and other “post-employment benefit liabilities.” While these conditions might not exist every year, it’s probably for the best that the Legislature has more options for excess revenues.
COUNTY CHARTER AMENDMENTS
Relating to Withdrawal of Signature from Supplemental Petition
This charter amendment would “correct clerical errors” and “provide consistency within the Charter by allowing an individual to withdraw their signature from a supplemental petition.” It’s simple, really. If you have the right to put your name on a petition, you have to right to remove it.
Relating to Review of Supplemental Petition
This amendment would “allow the County Clerk twenty (20) days to review a supplemental petition, instead of ten (10) days.” Hey, works for us. A lot of hard work goes into crafting these petitions, so why should the Clerk’s office rush their review?
Relating to Emergency Management Agency
This amendment would change the name of the County’s Civil Defense Agency to the Emergency Management Agency. Um, what? Seriously, we have to vote on this? There’s no proposed charter amendment on the proposed county manager form of government, but we do all get to decide whether to change the sign over the Civil Defense Agency door. Good grief. Sure, we guess.
Relating to Approval of and Qualifications for Various Directors
This amendment would require the Mayor to get County Council approval for appointments to the Managing Director position as well as the directors of the Finance, Public Works, Planning, Parks & Rec, Housing & Human Concerns, Transportation and Environmental Management departments. Um, duh–have you seen some of the people appointed to be directors in the last few years? The Council already approves of Prosecuting Attorney appointments, so this fits right in. While this amendment falls far short of the proposed county manager form of government (which won’t happen here anytime soon), this still provides much needed reform.
Relating to Office of Council Services’ Attorneys
This charter amendment would allow attorneys currently working out of the Office of Council Services to provide the County Council with legal advice and research (but not act as legal representation in litigation). Sure, why not.
Cover design: Darris Hurst