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To Our Readers

By John Flanagan

Saturday, September 23, 2000

What pushes
voter buttons

DESPITE recent signs of recovery, particularly in tourism, and although some candidates seem confused about which issues dominate the hearts and minds of Hawaii voters, our poll shows the economy is still No. 1.

Almost four out of 10 voters we surveyed, however, said they'd cast ballots today based primarily on candidates' qualifications and records or on their integrity. These issues came up Nos. 2 and 3 in the poll. They may be echoes of presidential campaign hullabaloo but should concern local politicians lacking in either category.

Taxes and government spending are voter hot buttons, too, but lean times mean tightened public purse strings and fewer opportunities for excess. After some foot dragging, the Legislature eventually trimmed state taxes, the city froze property taxes and this issue bumped down to No. 4 on the hit parade.

Traffic, issue No. 5, was very front-of-mind in the late 1980s. Despite highway widening, zipper lanes, computer-controlled street lights and other efforts to grease our daily commutes, it's still an issue -- but it's slipped. The repaving, concrete pouring and forests of shiny new lampposts sprouting on H-1 have convinced most of us that at least we're doing something about it.

We used to be very worried about crime, issue No. 6, but prosecutors have been up to the task of putting the bad boys away and programs such as Weed and Seed and the Waikiki prostitution-free zone have cleaned up pockets of perdition.

I'm not surprised education didn't make the list of issues that will decide this primary election. We're all for education, right? There are 31 candidates vying for eight seats on the state Board of Education. Today, we slash the field. Only six of 18 will be left standing for the November election in the Oahu at-large races, for example.

BOE candidate profiles appeared in last Saturday's paper and are online at Take another look and let's make good choices today. We owe it to our kids, Hawaii and ourselves.

See you next week -- I'm going to vote.


John Flanagan is editor and publisher of the Star-Bulletin.
To reach him call 525-8612, fax to 523-8509, send
e-mail to or write to
P.O. Box 3080, Honolulu, Hawaii 96802.

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