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Friday, October 13, 2000

Campaign 2000

A Look At Hot Legislative Races


Two vie for
Mizuguchi’s Senate seat

Harding faces 'worthy battle' against Abinsay

ThE 15th Senatorial District (Aiea-Fort Shafter) has always been a solid Democratic district, turning out politicians who were strong party leaders.

This year legislative and City Council veteran Donna Mercado Kim is the Democrat running to fill the vacancy created by Senate President Norman Mizuguchi's retirement.

Kim is opposed by Republican newcomer Eduardo Mina, a former colonel in what is now called the Philippine National Police. He moved to Hawaii in 1992 after working as an attorney in the Philippine military.


Upper Kalihi Valley, Aiea, Fort Shafter

Ed Mina (R)
Occupation: City liquor inspector
Background: Attorney with the national police in the Philippines

Donna Mercado Kim (D)
Occupation: Public affairs director, KUMU radio
Background: State House member; City Council since 1986

Mina had to sue and win in Circuit Court for the right to run. He's a liquor inspector and the job forbade him from any political involvement. The city chose not to fight the suit after losing a similar one with the police department in 1996.

Now Mina wants to get involved in the district.

"I'm seven years living in Kalihi, there have been no improvement." There have been promises but no action, he says.

Kim, who served 14 years on the City Council after leaving the state House, is well known in the district.

"When I go campaigning door-to-door most people say 'good job, keep speaking out and make sure they don't waste our money,' " Kim says.

Issues for the district, Kim says, include traffic congestion, crime and construction.

The schools, she says, are good, but need continued support.

Mina says traffic congestion is the top concern. The best way to solve it, he says, is with mass transit, a subway through the area.

He says a subway transit system would be expensive, but over the years would pay for itself.

Richard Borreca, Star-Bulletin

Harding faces ‘worthy
battle’ against Abinsay

Republican Ken Harding says he realizes it's going to be tough to beat incumbent Jun Abinsay in the mostly Democratic House District 29, which covers parts of Kalihi, Kapalama and Moanalua.

"It's an uphill battle," said Harding, a former Peace Corps volunteer. "But that's okay, it's a worthy battle."

This is the second face-off between Harding and Abinsay, and if the primary election results are any indication, Harding may have to go a third round in 2002. On Sept. 23, Harding garnered 173 votes to Abinsay's 1,973, with a total of 304 blank votes up for grabs, as well as 460 votes cast for unsuccessful Democratic candidate Lester Fung.


Moanalua, Fort Shafter, Kalihi Waena, Kapalama

Jun Abinsay (D)
Background: Vice president of community relations, International Savings & Loan; YMCA Kalihi board member; Family Service Center director

Ken Harding (R)
Entrepreneur; substitute teacher
Background: Vice chairman, Kalihi-Palama Neighborhood Board; member, Kalihi-Palama Visioning Team; member, Kalihi Business Association

Both Harding and Abinsay say the economy and education are the most important issues in their districts.

Abinsay, the chairman of the House Agriculture Committee, said he will continue to seek funding for the industry.

"By supporting diversified agriculture, we can support our economy," he said. "The general public should realize that agriculture is still supporting 40,000 workers."

Harding, an entrepreneur who started Urbatek, a nonprofit social service agency, said he is working with former inmates and others with learning difficulties to prepare them for starting their own businesses and is in the process of starting a small business incubation system.

Maintenance of Kalihi's public schools is a priority for both candidates, and Harding adds to this the goal of raising teachers' salaries.

Abinsay also wants to increase awareness of the importance of education for preschool children. He'd like to see more child-care programs and a collaboration between parents, teachers and volunteers to make sure children receive proper care and education before even entering school.

"Education starts at home at a very, very young age," he said.

Treena Shapiro, Star-Bulletin

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