Wednesday, October 2, 2002

Mink tributes abound

U.S. House members 'mourn
the loss of a great American'

Flags at half staff
Special election Q&A

By Crystal Kua

Patsy Mink fought for women, the poor, immigrants, working people and those unable to fight for themselves, her colleagues in the U.S. House of Representatives said yesterday.

"It's a sad day for the House of Representatives. We mourn the loss of a great American," said Rep. Rosa DeLauro, D-Conn.

Mink, a congresswoman for 24 years, died Saturday after battling viral pneumonia.

Republicans and Democrats spent two hours yesterday memorializing Mink.

There was particular praise for Title IX legislation, which she co-authored. The legislation prohibits sex discrimination in any educational program or activity receiving federal financial assistance.

"As the author of Title IX, she drew attention to women's educational and athletics needs and abilities," said Rep. Bobby Scott, D-Va. "And when you consider that over 80 percent of women in senior executive positions today report having participated in organized sports after grammar school, we know that Patsy Mink's work has changed the face of the nation."

The tribute to Mink in the U.S. House -- in the form of a resolution expressing condolences -- came on the same day that state officials justified spending $2 million for a special election that would fill the remaining month of her term.

The most poignant remarks came from U.S. Rep. Neil Abercrombie, whose voice cracked as he spoke.

"Patsy Mink, this little lady from Hawaii, was a giant in her heart and in her commitment," he said. "And with every breath that she took, she championed those who had no one to stand up and speak out for them. I will miss her terribly."

Several members remarked Mink used to bring a touch of Hawaii to Washington.

"She used to send me candy on my birthday, and I had plenty of those, Mr. Speaker.," said Rep. Carrie Meek, D-Fla. "She would send me those ... whatever those nuts they grow in Hawaii."

A U.S. congressional delegation is expected to arrive in Hawaii Friday for Mink's funeral at the state Capitol.

A special election to fill the rest of her term will be held Nov. 30. A second special election could be held if Mink, whose name will remain on the general election ballot, wins the Nov. 5 general election.

Gov. Ben Cayetano said yesterday that the U.S. Constitution requires that a special election be called when a vacancy exists.

Rex Quidilla, state Elections Office spokesman, said state elections chief Dwayne Yoshina had no choice but to call for the election. "What was made clear by Earl Anzai, the attorney general, was that you have no discretion in this area; you have to run an election," Quidilla said.

Quidilla said that word from Abercrombie that Congress might be in session in December, when it is normally on break, was helpful in making the decision.

Michael Slackman, Abercrombie's spokesman in Washington, said it is "extremely likely" that Congress will come back into session after the general election.

"There will be what they call a lame-duck session," Slackman said. "That is a session that will be reconvened after the election, but before the swearing-in of the new congressional term in January."

Slackman said the original date of adjournment was Friday, but that nobody expects to meet that date now.

What will likely happen is that Congress will adjourn so that members can go home to campaign, then return after the general election for a number of issues still in the fire, including several appropriations bills.

Some Republicans were among those criticizing spending $2 million for the Nov. 30 special election.

Micah Kane, chairman of the Republican Party, said that anyone, no matter the party affiliation, would be concerned about spending $2 million on a special election that may not be necessary, but he believes Yoshina is falling back on the U.S. Constitution and following the law.


Flags to fly at
half staff on Friday

American flags on all military installations, vessels and Department of Defense buildings throughout the United States and abroad will be flown at half staff on Friday in memory of U.S. Rep . Patsy Mink, Secretary of Defense Donald Rumsfeld ordered today. The American and state flags have been lowered since Monday and will remain at half-staff until sunset Friday.

A congressional committee today also voted to rename the landmark education law called Title IX, which Mink co-authored, after the Hawaii Democrat.

Election 2002
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The special election

Frequently asked questions concerning the upcoming special election for the 2nd Congressional District:

Who can run for the seat?

According to the U.S. Constitution a person must be at least 25 years old to run for Congress and have been a citizen of the United States for seven years. The Constitution does not specify that a candidate has to live in the district that he or she represents, just that the candidate has to live in the state when elected.

Nomination papers can be taken out beginning today at the Office of Elections at 802 Lehua Ave. in Pearl City or any county clerk's office. No signatures are required but candidates must pay a $75 filing fee. Candidates can specify a party or be non-partisan. The filing deadline is Oct. 15 at 4:30 p.m. for the election on Nov. 30.

The winner will serve from election until the next Congress convenes on Jan. 3.

Who can vote in the special election?

Registered voters in the 2nd Congressional District which includes all the neighbor islands and Leeward, North Shore and Windward Oahu.

Voters already registered for the primary and general election are automatically eligible to vote in the special election. If you are not registered, Nov. 1 is the last day to register to vote in the special election.

Why can't we just have one special election if Mink wins rather than two special elections?

Unlike the U.S. Senate, where a governor can appoint a successor, Article 1, Section 2 of the U.S. Constitution requires a special election be held to fill the remaining term of a U.S. representative. The Constitution does not specify when a special election should be held. State law requires that the election be held no later than 60 days from the announcement of the special election.

Congress may be in special session in December and Gov. Ben Cayetano issued a statement yesterday noting that governors have been sued for not holding timely special elections.

"In a democracy, we cannot deny the right of representation for one-half of Hawaii's population to save money," Cayetano said in a written news release.

Does the candidate who wins the first special election have any particular advantage in the second special election?

Political observers say the candidate who wins the first special election would have a slight advantage if there is a second election because that person becomes the incumbent, even if only for a month. However, the second special election may be more difficult to win because candidates who lose in the general election may decide to run and that will change the dynamics of the race, observers say.

What happens to Mink's staff?

Mink's staff continues to run the office and serve constituents under the supervision of U.S. House Clerk Jeff Trandahl until a successor is elected to fill the vacant seat.

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