Honolulu Star-Bulletin Local News
The First Vote

We turned on our tape recorder and asked first-time voters to talk about the issues and political process; look for it every Tuesday during election season.

Name: Healani Sonoda
Age: 23
Background: University of Hawaii-Manoa, senior; majoring in Hawaiian Studies; graduated from Pearl City High; daughter of Lorraine Sonoda-Fogel.

Political campaigns

I think that a lot of times politicians make promises and when they get into office they don't really keep them. One of the biggest issues to me, most of my life, has been education. I saw (former Gov. John) Waihee before he went into office and one of his biggest things was education and improving it. And what he did was give the teachers a raise and that was it. He didn't really improve it. (Gov. Ben) Cayetano made promises about education, and when he went into office, he cut the UH budget and that really upset me because if people in Hawaii don't have education, if they don't have access to it, then they can't improve their way of life ...

Another thing that I'm concerned about for this year's election is the status of Hawaiians and their way of living and how it's going to continue because Hawaii is turning into a big city, and the Hawaiians are constantly being displaced. The one thing that upset me this year was the Makua evictions. It upset me because it made the Hawaiians out to be the bad guys when in actuality, they're the victims of society today. They don't have any land and their culture is almost annihilated and they don't have any chance of making it in Hawaii.

By cutting the access to education to local people in Hawaii, like putting these budget cuts and raising the tuition, you're kind of setting into place the system that will keep the Hawaiians down. At the same time, it's kind of keeping local kids down, no matter what race.

It takes a lot more money to go to the mainland and go to school there, so UH-Manoa is pretty much the only thing they got to make it in Hawaii.


The only thing I can think about when I'm making my decision for this year about a candidate is what they'll do to help educate our youngsters today.

That's the biggest thing because if everybody in Hawaii were educated, we could all make good decisions about our future.

But if all of us are just sitting here and you're not getting a good education, you can't make good decisions.


I don't think people pay attention to what's going on. The problem is there's so many bad things going on in the world that when you watch the news, it's all about bad things - violence, drugs and the high rate of crime. People don't want to watch that, so they don't really pay attention ...

What happens is they don't really look at issues. There are so many problems in Hawaii they can't really look at the issues, they have to look at other things. In looking at a candidate, I would look at his personal life - what kind of person he is, his family life. I wouldn't look at everything else because it's too much.


I think I can make a difference. It's a heavy responsibility that a lot of people don't take seriously. Maybe they're too busy trying to make a living and they don't have time to pay attention or even have time to vote. People in general don't care and don't think the system will work for them because every year, it seems like the system is working against you - they're just trying to get more money out of me. You've got to pay for everything now. Like Kapiolani Park. You've got to pay the meters now to go to the park.

Presidential race

I like Clinton because he apologized to the Hawaiians for the illegal overthrow. He's married to an intelligent woman, and I think she's doing a lot, too.


The priority of politicians in America should be education, and they should make it more accessible to the common person. If we educate people, then people can make good decisions about their lives.

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