Thursday, June 7, 2001

Mink faces changes
in her district

New census numbers may mean
the loss of key areas of support

By Richard Borreca

The 2nd Congressional District, sprawled across the neighbor islands and part of Oahu, may face changes that U.S. Rep. Patsy Mink hopes will not hurt her.

According to the new figures from Census 2000, Mink's district has grown 16 percent while the 1st Congressional District (urban Oahu) has shrunk 2.5 percent.

The imbalance means that when the state Reapportionment Commission sets the new voting district lines, there will be changes for Mink and fellow Democrat Neil Abercrombie -- including shrinking Mink's district.

The commission is charged with balancing the two congressional districts so they have about the same number of residents.

Mink's concern, she said, is losing parts of Waipahu, which was an early stronghold for her and is considered to be a safe Democratic area.

"I would like to keep Waipahu and also Waimanalo," she said.

But Mink added that because both areas are near the edges of her district on Oahu, there is a chance the Reapportionment Commission might give them to the 1st District.

Other areas in her district, such as Kona on the Big Island and Kihei on Maui, are areas of growth and are Republican centers. Mink, however, says she has won her district before, even with the two GOP bastions. "I have not detected any changes because of them," she said.

In the last decade her district has become a bit older, with the median age moving from 31.1 to 34.9 years.

That means a slightly higher percentage of voters, with the number of persons 18 or older going from 71.6 to 73 percent.

The population changes, however, show up mostly in two areas, Kihei on Maui and Kapolei on Oahu, Mink said.

She estimated the change to be about 35,000 more people.

Although Mink has attracted the attention of only state Rep. Bob McDermott (R-Aiea) as a possible opponent next year, she has already formed her campaign committee.

Leading the re-election efforts are U.S. Sens. Daniel Inouye and Daniel Akaka.

"Neither of them are running next year, and I approached them and am pleased they are both willing to help," Mink said.

Also working for the 12-term Democrat is former Gov. John Waihee, whom Mink praised for his "extensive statewide and national contacts."

Her district spreads across the state from Lihue, through rural Oahu and to the Big Island's Naalehu.

While Mink, 73, acknowledges that the district has changed, she is planning a campaign much like her successful previous efforts.

"Our actions and our votes and whether or not we connect with our constituents are far more important than anything else," she said.

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