Political power rests
in the voting booth


The number of races in this year's election could lead to significant changes in Hawaii.

POLITICAL campaigns never end; they just vary in intensity. Now that the legislative session is history, candidates and political parties are turning up the volume. Hawaii voters should not let the noise drown out the messages.

This is a watershed election year in Hawaii, with 127 offices open -- so many that it may be easier to count what positions will not be on the ballot. According to the Office of Elections, there have never been this many seats up for grabs in Hawaii, the closest being 76 legislative posts in 1978. The 2002 election offers voters a significant opportunity to choose leaders who can not only improve county and state operations, but can infuse the system with innovative strategies and change Zit if it doesn't work right.

It is not an easy mission. The task will be more than registering to vote and casting a ballot.

People should look for candidates who clearly state their views and have voted true to the issues, not on how their decisions will affect their public images. There is no point in choosing someone whose primary goal is to win the next election. If a candidate has a voting record, examine it. Find those who have achieved their goals, who have done their homework, who haven't gone along to get along and who have made decisions based on the public good rather than only on their personal beliefs.

Voters should look beyond party labels. One Republican isn't a mirror of another, Democrats cross the ideological spectrum and Greens come in several shades. Casting a ballot based on racial or ethnic lines, or on local vs. newcomer, shortchanges candidates. Don't focus on single-issue candidates, but rather look for a person with intelligence and reasoning abilities.

Voters can't afford to be lazy. What is presented in the news media can serve as a framework for making a choice, but should not be the sole foundation. Political advertising serves to sway, not to inform. People should attend candidate forums and ask questions. If candidates don't appear often enough in public, call them on the phone or e-mail them; anyone worthy of a vote should gladly speak to a citizen.

Hawaii has a dismal record when it comes to voter turnout. Although about 74 percent of eligible voters are registered, fewer than half cast ballots in 2000. Experts say one reason is that people don't believe in their political efficacy. However, by not voting, people reinforce that notion. People who don't vote can be assured of remaining powerless.


Published by Oahu Publications Inc., a subsidiary of Black Press.

Don Kendall, Publisher

Frank Bridgewater, Editor 529-4791;
Michael Rovner,
Assistant Editor 529-4768;
Lucy Young-Oda, Assistant Editor 529-4762;

Mary Poole, Editorial Page Editor, 529-4790;
John Flanagan, Contributing Editor 294-3533;

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