Race is on for Council vacancy


POSTED: Wednesday, July 08, 2009

The rising cost of living and the needs of Oahu's growing elderly population were two main issues addressed as 14 candidates seeking to fill the vacancy on the City Council began airing their views in various community forums.

At least six community forums have been scheduled over the next month as the candidates present themselves to voters in a short campaign in which observers say name recognition will be a big key to victory.

The winner of the special election would fill the term of Duke Bainum, who died June 9, just seven months into his four-year term.

Today marks the voter-registration deadline to participate in the special mail-in election. Voters who were registered for the most recent election should be receiving a ballot, but those who have moved since then are urged to register again.

Acting City Clerk Bernice Mau says the city expects to mail about 47,000 ballots by the end of next week. Voters have until Aug. 7 to return ballots. Walk-in absentee voting will be held July 23 to Aug. 5.

The first forum was a live broadcast on Hawaii Public Radio yesterday morning, featuring all 14 candidates at the organization's Atherton Studio at Kaheka Street.

Newcomers urged voters to buck the trend of business as usual and elect a fresh face, while past politicians touted their experience and ability to “;hit the ground running.”;

“;One thing that I've gotten from walking the district is that people feel frustrated with government,”; said Nathaniel Kinney, a first-time candidate. “;They feel disenfranchised, and most of all they feel ignored right now. They're aching for a new perspective.”;

The field includes two past officeholders: Ann Kobayashi, Bainum's predecessor, who ran unsuccessfully for mayor last year, and Matt Matsunaga, who served 10 years in the state Senate.

“;Experience plays a big role, especially when you have to go midterm into the City Council,”; Kobayashi said.

All spoke of a need to address the rising cost of living while also preserving core city services, particularly in the area of public safety.

Taking care of Hawaii's growing senior population also emerged as a top issue.

“;We need to explore all possible options and see what's best for them,”; said Phillip Rockwell, another newcomer. “;No one wants to think of their parents—their mom, their dad—living in bad conditions or not being taken care of.”;



The 14 candidates running to succeed Duke Bainum on the City Council:

» Heidi L. Bornhorst

» Michael Cain

» Wendell S.L. Ching

» Gladys Gerlich Hayes

» Nathaniel Kinney

» Ann Kobayashi

» Philmund “;Phil”; Lee

» Matt Matsunaga

» James Quimby

» Keolu Jacob Peralto

» Phillip “;Rocky”; Rockwell

» Butch Sims

» George “;G.W.”; Waialeale

» Earl Winfree