Take charge of state
by casting your vote


Voters today will decide party nominations for local and state offices.

INVIGORATED by a spirited race for the state's highest position and an entire slate of legislative competition brought about by redistricting, Hawaii voters have plenty of reasons to vote. Apathy has resulted in low voter turnouts in recent years, but the importance of today's primary election merits wide participation.

While Linda Lingle is the presumptive gubernatorial nominee of the Republican Party, three Democrats -- state Rep. Ed Case, Lt. Gov. Mazie Hirono and D.G. "Andy" Anderson -- all are strong contenders for their party's nod. Close races could occur in both parties' contests for lieutenant governor. All state Senate slots are up for grabs because of reapportionment brought on by the 2000 census, as are all the state House seats. Most of the City Council seats also are open, vacated by members who ran up against term limits.

Sixty percent of eligible voters in the country cast ballots in the 2000 election. Hawaii's voter turnout was only 44.1 percent, by far the lowest percentage in the nation. Dwayne Yoshina, the state's chief elections officer, blames apathy. Curtis Gans of the Study of the American Electorate, a Washington-based nonpartisan research institute, says declining turnouts nationally are a result of "erosion in trust of elected leaders, cynicism in the news media and, most profoundly, the rise in cable and satellite television."

GOP Chairman Micah Kane attributed the low turnout to potential voters feeling disenfranchised by a one-party system. That should no longer be the case. Public opinion polls show Lingle to be the frontrunner, and Republicans have realistic hopes of increasing their numbers in the Legislature.

The corruption that sent two City Council members to prison during the past year should motivate the electorate to become more involved, noting the strengths and weaknesses of candidates before casting their votes. Refusing to vote because politicians in the past have abused the public trust only makes things worse.


Let mediators into
dockworker talks


West Coast port operators call off a shutdown after a work slowdown ends.

HAWAII averted economic isolation this week when the longshoremen's union ended an apparent work slowdown on the West Coast and management called off a lockout at cargo terminals in Los Angeles and Long Beach. The threat of a strike persists, however, and both sides in the labor negotiations should avail themselves of federal mediation to end the deadlock. If that fails, a federally imposed cooling-off period may be necessary as a last resort to keep the ports open.

A work stoppage by the International Longshore and Warehouse Union at those two ports, the nation's busiest, could quickly spread up and down the West Coast, seriously harming the nation's economy and stopping the flow of goods between Hawaii and the mainland. A strike also could reach Hawaii, ending shipments to and from all directions and paralyzing the state.

Federal mediators have offered their services but have received no invitation. The White House has raised the possibility of invoking the Taft-Hartley act and imposing an 80-day cooling-off period. That drastic measure can be forestalled by entering into federal mediation.

"If the West Coast goes on strike, it's only a matter of time before the union here has to follow suit, so it's a serious situation," Governor Cayetano said.

Union members had been working under a contract that was extended on a 24-hour basis since it expired on July 1, but those extensions were halted on Sept. 1. The union objects to port operators' plan to introduce new technology into cargo handling, fearing that modernization would cost jobs. Although the immediate threat of a shutdown has ended at the two ports, the impasse continues. The contract covers 10,500 workers from San Diego to Seattle whose salaries range from $80,000 to twice that amount.


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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