Star-Bulletin Primary Election Guide 2004


The Board of Education got down to business during its August meeting: from left, Supt. Patricia Hamamoto and board members Breene Harimoto, Herb Watanabe and Denise Matsumoto.

BOE race draws
an interesting lineup

Board of Education candidates

The job has no salary and only limited power, but the contest for seats on the Board of Education has attracted some notable candidates this year, including former state and national legislators and a prominent philanthropist.

Thirty people are vying for seven spots on the board, which appoints the superintendent and sets policy for Hawaii's public schools, but depends on the Legislature and governor for funding. The primary election on Sept. 18 will narrow the field to the top two candidates for each seat, who will face off on Nov. 2.

"Because education is the No. 1 priority on everybody's minds, the board is finally getting the attention it deserves and needs to really make a difference," said Chairman Breene Harimoto.

The 13-member board is overseeing implementation of the Reinventing Education Act of 2004, which will give principals more control of school funding and create councils at each campus to give parents a say in their neighborhood schools.

Gov. Linda Lingle, who opposed that law, has recruited candidates who want to break up the statewide system into several school boards. Among them are Darwin Ching, a former deputy attorney general, and Signe Godfrey, president of Olsten Staffing Services, both running for Oahu at-large seats.

But three of the best-known personalities that have jumped into that race say they want to improve the schools, not create more school boards. They are Cecil Heftel, who served 10 years in Congress, former state Rep. Lei Ahu Isa, and Robert Midkiff, president of the Atherton Family Foundation.

Garrett Toguchi is the only incumbent seeking re-election in the Oahu-at-large race, which has three seats up for grabs.

In the Leeward district, Harimoto, who supported the new education law, is running against Shad Kane, a retired police officer who prefers the governor's approach. Longtime Honolulu district member Denise Matsumoto faces a challenge from former board member Keith Sakata.

Three candidates are vying for the Kauai seat: retired Principal Margaret Cox, former board member Mitsugi Nakashima and former university instructor William Georgi. On the Big Island, incumbent Herbert Watanabe is facing David Adams, Peter Charlot and Nadia Davies.

State Office of Elections



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