Sunday, September 8, 2002

Election 2002



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[ MAUI ]

2 unions endorse Tsutsui
in bid for Senate

By Gary T. Kubota

A major challenge is being mounted to unseat state Sen. Jan Buen in a winner-take-all Democratic primary election.

Maui small-businessman Shan Tsutsui has received an endorsement to run against Buen in the 4th Senate District from a couple of large unions, the Hawaii Government Employees Association and ILWU.

His candidacy is also being supported by some longtime Democrats, including former state Sen. Anthony Takitani and Leslie Ann Yokouchi, the daughter of longtime Democrat Masaru "Pundy" Yokouchi.

Election 2002
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Tsutsui said the unions wanted to make sure that he would discuss various issues with their representatives and be more accessible than Buen to listening to them.

Buen, whose late father, Tom Yagi, was a well-known ILWU organizer, defeated incumbent state Sen. Roz Baker in 1998, despite Baker's endorsement by the union.

But it remains to be seen how Buen will do in the reconfigured 4th District, where there has been a shift out of Lahaina, Molokai and Lanai into the more heavily blue-collar region of Kahului.

Buen said she did not seek the endorsement of either union and believes like her late father that the ILWU should not endorse candidates in the primary that could cause a split among union members.

Also running in the Democratic primary against Buen is insurance agent Thomas Cerizo.

Since there are no candidates from other parties running in the 4th District, the Democratic primary winner will become a state senator without running in the general election.

Interior designer Patty Nagasako-Peterson is challenging businessman Brian Blundell in the Republican primary for the House 10th District. The primary winner will face attorney James Rouse.

Nagasako-Peterson, who opposed abortions unless a woman's life was in jeopardy, ran unsuccessfully against state Rep. Joseph Souki in the 2000 general election.

Blundell, the owner of Central Pacific Marine, lost against Meyer Ueoka in a state Board of Education election in 2000.



2 veteran senators
go head to head

By Rod Thompson

State Senate District 1 (Hilo to Waimea) is the Big Island race to watch.

Last year's redistricting left incumbent Democrats Lorraine Rodero Inouye and David Matsuura in the same district.

Matsuura's opposition to a "death with dignity" bill this spring was controversial, but he gets praise for obtaining low-priced medicine for former sugar workers.

Inouye has been seeking a new intermediate school for Waimea.

In House District 4 (lower Puna), incumbent Democrat Helene Hale is being challenged by three other Democrats, former Councilman Al Smith, public relations man Bill Eger and farmer Gerard Silva.

On the Republican side, three political newcomers are competing.

Little-known challengers in other races means the contests probably won't get exciting until the general election.

One to watch then is Senate District 2 (West Hawaii) where former longtime legislator Virginia Isbell, a Democrat, hopes to oust incumbent Republican Paul Whalen.



In 1999, Jonathan Chun, second from right, joined fellow freshman senators -- from left, Jan Buen, Colleen Hanabusa, David Matsuura and Bob Nakata -- at the YWCA's Cafe Laniakea. The five sided with Senate leadership to reject Margery Bronster as attorney general, a vote that could work against Chun this election.

2 Dems battle in
islandwide district

A state senator and a council member
bring starkly different styles to the race

By Anthony Sommer

LIHUE >> State Sen. Jonathan Chun is struggling to remove an albatross named Margery Bronster from his neck while challenger Gary Hooser flails away not at Chun but at lame duck Mayor Maryanne Kusaka.

The District 7 seat they are seeking in the Democratic primary (the winner will face Republican Rosemarie Holt) became even more important this year with the abolition of canoe districts. Kauai used to have one and a half Senate districts; now it has only one.

Chun was one of a group of freshman senators who sided with the Senate leadership and helped defeat Bronster's confirmation for reappointment as attorney general.

Many have viewed the refusal to confirm Bronster as punishment for her prosecution of the Bishop Estate trustees, many of whom were former legislative leaders. Chun repeatedly has insisted his vote against her stemmed from his days as first deputy county attorney and his difficulties in working with her office and had nothing to do with the investigation of the trustees.

Hooser, meanwhile, hasn't laid a glove on Chun, but has been grabbing headlines by battering Mayor Kusaka at the weekly Kauai County Council.

His latest crusade is to request the first full-blown investigation in the Council's history of the Kusaka administration's tardy response to a major landslide on the north shore caused by unpermitted grading by retired auto dealer and mayoral friend Jimmy Pfleuger.

The campaign is a contrast in styles rather than substance. On the issues, both candidates are virtually indistinguishable.

But on the stump Hooser is an extrovert who clearly loves campaigning while Chun gives the impression he tolerates it only because he has to. His first campaign announcement was that he would not participate in any sign-waving -- a practice that is expected by Kauai voters -- because it is a traffic safety menace.

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