Wednesday, September 4, 2002


Senate candidates vie
for new Waikiki seat

Editor's note: This is the fourth in a series of profiles of political candidates for the Sept. 21 primary election.

By Pat Omandam

As a Waikiki resident, Doug Luna so far hasn't received many campaign brochures in the mail from those running for the new state Senate district that stretches from Waikiki to Sand Island.

And as a candidate for that seat himself, he knows why: "It's look as if everything is going to come at the very end of the campaign," Luna said.

Election 2002
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For the three Republicans and five Democrats vying for the Senate District 12 seat, the campaign trail narrows greatly on primary election night, when only one from each political party will proceed to the general election.

Luna, 63, faces Jerry Drelling, 47; Pat McCain, 45; Cindy Rasmussen, 42; and Jon Yoshimura, 43, for the Democratic nomination.

Lei Ahu Isa, 58; Les Among, 42; and Gordon Trimble, 58, face off for the Republican nomination.

Luna, owner of an architectural firm, said people in the district are expressing disenchantment with government and there's a feeling that its just not working for them.

Drelling, a former TV news anchor and reporter, is president of his own public relations firm. He has said he's running to improve education, reduce taxes, help small business and diversify the economy.

"My goal is straightforward: to restore the public's trust in elected officials, and to serve the working and retired taxpayers of this district and the state of Hawaii," he said.

Yoshimura, after eight years as a city councilman, had considered a run for lieutenant governor but settled on the new Senate seat. He had said the district holds the key to Hawaii's economic revitalization, and believes his record of government service will attract votes.

McCain, president of the Hawaii Restaurant Association, agreed Waikiki is key to economic revitalization, but said the state also must consider the residents who live there.

And voters there are highly concerned about ethics and integrity among politicians, he said.

"It's name recognition for us," McCain said of the lesser-known Democrats in the race. "That's our challenge."

Rasmussen, a businesswoman and Realtor, ran against state Sen. Rod Tam (D, Nuuanu) two years ago in the general election.

In the Republican primary, Among, music director for a dinner cruise, said he was personally affected by the Sept. 11 terrorist attacks when he was laid off from his job and believes the state must do more for the economy.

Like other Hawaii Republicans, he favors the removal of the state general excise tax on food, rent and medicine, as well as downsizing government through attrition.

"I don't think the ruling (political) party has the long-term vision to create jobs in Hawaii," Among said.

Trimble, former state administrator of Hawaii Foreign-Trade Zone No. 9 and a former finance and economics instructor, said voters have grown weary of recycling politicians who don't know "which horse to ride or what hat to wear."

"Having a nice smile and being glib no longer cut it," Trimble said. "Voters expect commitment -- a candidate to know where he stands and stands for what he proposes."

Ahu Isa, a state representative who switched political parties this summer, said another concern in the district is the growing population of homeless in Ala Moana Park due to tighter airport security and the cleanup of Aala Park in downtown.

She suggests the state set up another homeless shelter in Kalaeloa as a possible solution.

Overall, Ahu Isa remains confident about her campaign. While district residents may not have known her name when she began her campaign months ago, they do now, she said.

"It's been pretty good," she said. "It's a new seat, new party and new district. I like new things."

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