Democrat Mazie Hirono has represented Hawaii’s Second District in the U.S. House of Representatives since January 2007. Now she’s running for the U.S. Senate seat currently held by retiring Democratic Senator Daniel Akaka. Though the election is still 14 months away, Hirono has already begun campaigning, and has even picked up an endorsement from U.S. Senator Daniel Inouye (D, Hawaii).
On Aug. 26, Hirono stopped by the MauiTime office to chat for a few minutes on the senate race. And please keep in mind—this and any future such candidate interview article we run should be seen as a chat—just part of a much larger conversation that will take place over the next year.
MAUITIME: Thanks very much for stopping by. So why did you decide to run for the Senate?
MAZIE HIRONO: The people of Hawaii want someone who shares their values. I share their experiences. For instance, I have an 87-year-old mother. She lives with us. I know about the concerns people have about seniors.
MT: In your opinion, what’s the single most pressing issue facing the U.S. today?
HIRONO: Jobs. Getting our economy going.
MT: And how do we do that?
HIRONO: I have supported infrastructure investment. The stimulus bill [from 2009]—I wish more had gone into that. Two hundred forty million dollars of the $1.4 billion sent to Hawaii was for infrastructure.
MT: This month marks the 10th anniversary of the 9/11 terrorist attacks. Are we better off as a nation today than we were then?
HIRONO: We are, but we’re also in the middle of the worse economic crisis since the Great Depression. We must do everything we can to get out of this economic disaster.
MT: Such as?
HIRONO: Education is the great equalizer. We are falling behind in STEM skills—Science, Technology, Engineering and Math. We need to encourage educators to go into these fields. College costs are really high, so we can offer loan forgiveness for those willing to go into STEM areas. I’m also for quality early education. Education is foundational.
MT: You talked about the importance of math and science. What about the arts?
HIRONO: Oh, I’m all for that. We have to support creativity in young people.
MT: Speaking of creativity, what do you read?
HIRONO: Right now I’m reading David McCullough’s new book The Greater Journey, about Americans living in Paris. I also read a lot of mysteries. And I’m reading Nicholas Kristof’s Half the Sky: Turning oppression into opportunity for women worldwide. And I just started reading Mark Twain’s Innocents Abroad. It’s all on my iPad.
This article is part of an occasional series in which candidates for public office sit down with the MauiTime editorial board. Candidates should send an email to [email protected] for more information.