March 2020: Hawai’i County Poll

Voters on Hawai’i Island have been polled on various topics by the Hawai’i Connection. The Hawai’i Connection recognizes that polling gives an overall outlook of what the socio-political environment looks like through a sample of answers from the community. Multiple polls will be taken in the course of the 2020 election and we will continue to monitor how politics, policies, and issues affect voters. 

Question 1) Which political party do you tend to vote for?

45% – Democratic Party

28.5% – Undecided / Choose not to say

12.5% – Aloha A’ina Party 

7.5% – Republican Party

5% – Independent Party

1.5% – Other

The Democratic Party has dominated elections throughout the State of Hawai’i in recent history – but there are some exceptions. That was not the case at the time of the overthrow of the Hawaiian Kingdom when the Big Five, Five of the largest names in business in Hawai’i, helped control the Hawaiian territorial government. The Democratic Party of Hawaii went on to side with labor, supporting workers that were employed under the Big Five. 

In modern Republican history, the last time a Republican President had a majority was in 1984 during Ronald Reagan’s re-election. The last Republican Governor, Linda Lingle, was elected in 2002, defeating a popular upcoming star in the Democratic Party, Mazie Hirono. Lingle would go on to get re-elected in the 2006 election, defeating a financially weak Democratic challenger, Randy Iwase. In the State’s 61-year existence, State House Republicans controlled an average of three seats, with the Lingle years capturing five seats. In 2016, the Democratic Party State Senate captured all twenty-five of its seats for the first time.

The Aloha A’ina party, established in 1997, has been given tremendous traction in 2019, due to the Thirty Meter Telescope, Sherwood Forest, and Kahuku Windmills protest. Their main focus will be to organize as an official political party by obtaining membership and gaining the 757 signatures from registered voters to organize.

The Independent Party has not seen a true candidate come through the ranks since former Mayor Mufi Hanneaman broke Democratic Party ranks to run as an Independent for the office of Governor in 2014. 

Other political parties include: Libertarian, Constitutional, and Green Party. These parties have not had an issue with membership, but have had an issue getting candidates elected, almost non-existent.

Question 2) When you vote, do you look at the following:?

65% – Candidates policy or political view matches your own

12.5% – A candidates party affiliation

10.5% – If a candidate was born in Hawai’i

6% – By what others say about the candidate

5% – If a candidate has a degree

1% – By how many signs a candidate has

0% – By a candidates name

In this question we tried to gain an understanding of how people voted and what would be the deciding factor for an individual to vote for a specific person. This question gives us a different perspective on how the first question interacts with the second. The 28.5% undecided on their party are voters that would be the wildcard in an election – especially if the Democratic Party received 45% in this poll and when asked “when you vote, do you look at the following:,” 12.5% stated a candidates party affiliation. This poll also gave a clear cut perspective that abandoned a practice that your name is what got you elected in Hawai’i. Out of the people surveyed, none voted for a candidate based on their name. 

Question 3) What is the top issue facing Hawai’i County?

18% – Homeless/Mental Illness

15% – High Cost of Living

15% – Roads/Infrastructure 

11% – Thirty Meter Telescope

9% – Agriculture

9% – Mass Transit

6% – Pesticides and Herbicide Usage

5% – Tourism

5% – All cesspool changing to septic

4% – Setback from Sea-level rise

3% – Other

We’ll discuss the top four issues. Homeless/mental illness has been an issue for the last several years. The County of Hawai’i is pushing the Kukuiola emergency homeless shelter as a result of the issue. Governor David Ige created an Emergency Proclamation, across the state, in regard to the homeless that would ease the permitting process, among other things. There is a need to implement plans to assist those on the street, or to strengthen laws.

High cost of living: basically, minimum wage in Hawai’i is $11.50 per/hrs, in Hawai’i County, in order to make a decent living in a two-bedroom apartment the wage would need to be $22.50 per/hrs. The first issue compliments the second one fairly well: a high cost of living with high taxes, an unfair business environment with regulations, and housing markets holding as second homes or short-term rental units, and the Jones Act have continued to raise the price of paradise.

Roads/infrastructure: the County of Hawai’i raised the General Excise Tax for transportation by a quarter percent in 2018, and raised it by another quarter in January 2020. The County of Hawai’i has a $500 million operating budget. Millions come from the Transient Accommodations Tax which is the ‘Hotel Tax’. Many speculate that the counties do not receive their fair share in the hotel tax, which would help fund capital improvement projects.

Thirty Meter Telescope: there are two issues that came out of 2019: Homelessness; and the activist on Mauna Kea protesting/protecting the Thirty Meter Telescope by way of obstructing and blocking the access road to the summit. At this time,  there is little headway, which brings us to the 4th question.

Question 4) Would you vote for a candidate even though he/she would be supportive of Thirty MeterTelescope?

41.5% – Yes

24.4% – No

34.1% – Undecided

We tried to gain an understanding of how the Thirty Meter Telescope issue will play a role in the 2020 election. The “Yes” answer saw 41.5%, however, as the elections get closer it will be interesting to see the 34.1% of undecided voters affect the election. 

Question 5) If we had a mock election right now, who would you likely vote for Mayor in 2020?

43.9% – Undecided 

17.1% – Grayden Ha’i-Kelly

12.2% – Mitch Roth

9.8% – Ikaika Marzo (Undeclared)

7.3% – Other

3.9% – Bob Fitzgerald

2.9% – Tante Urban

2.9% – Harry Kim (Undeclared)

0% – Sadegh Abolghassem

0% – Mike Ruggles

0% – Wendell Ka’ehu’ae’a

There are a lot of unknowns in the highest office of the County, with 43.9% of voters undecided. Grayden Ha’i-Kelly, at the time of conducting this poll, had hit 17.1%, however, the presumed front runner of the race is Mitch Roth. A new addition to the field is Ikaika Marzo, who had built Pu’u Honua O Puna, a hub for information and resources for those affected by the lava flow in 2018. There are a lot of unknown’s in this race thus far. 

Running for Office 101

By. Bronsten Kossow

FILE – In this Aug. 4, 2014, file photo, U.S. Rep. Colleen Hanabusa waves at drivers while campaigning for U.S. Senate in Honolulu. Hanabusa is challenging incumbent U.S. Sen. Brian Schatz to determine who will fill the rest of the late Sen. Daniel Inouye’s term. (AP Photo/Audrey McAvoy, File)

Is it that time of year again? Names of candidates, both new and old, have started appearing out of nowhere in all forms of advertising: on lawn signs; in your mailbox on flyers; random people may have started knocking on your door to try to get your support; scrolling through social media and seeing a “Sponsored by the Friends of….” post. And why would that be? Well, February 3, 2020 marks the start of campaign season. 

Anytime between February 3rd to June 2nd is when candidates will make their mark, a declaration that they will officially run for public office. For Hawai’i Island residents seats include: President, Congressional 2, State Senate District 2, All State House of Representatives, OHA trustee at-large, OHA Resident of Hawai’i, OHA Moloka’i, and OHA Kaua’i, Hawai’i County Mayor, Prosecuting Attorney, and all County Council members. 

This will be the first time in the history of Hawai’i elections that all voting will be submitted by mail-in ballot only. Yep, that means no standing in line, no interacting with others, but voting from home, and taking the time to think about which of the candidates you believe will be best for office.

So you want to run for office? For one, thank you for thinking about running and serving. One take away is to stay true to yourself, your beliefs, and to stand up for the best interests of the people you represent. I can tell you that it’s a long stretch from Day 1 of your campaign to Election Day.

December 10, 2019, Former Prosecuting Attorney Mitch Roth announces his candidacy for Mayor of Hawai’i Island. (Hawaii News Now)

Do your homework – I can’t stress this enough. Often times candidates run for office not knowing the difference between municipal, state, or federal jurisdiction. Let’s put it this way, if you’re from the County of Hawai’i and you are trying to increase teacher wages in schools, that jurisdiction belongs to the State of Hawai’i. Take some time to do a Google search and check out the issues that you may think might come up during the campaign season, review all sides of the issue(s), and also be willing to compromise — the best type of representative is one who is willing to work for their constituents as a whole, not just for a selected few.

Funding, funding, funding. Like every campaign advertisement you see they always have a “donate here” button. Almost all campaigns need funding, unless you’re a Trump or a Bloomberg where you place your millions into your election. I recommend you continue to reach out to your local community. Also if you receive a $1,000.00 in donations you need to submit a report to the Campaign Spending Commission, keep all receipts of any or all purchases, and log all donations. Keep an eye on the due dates for the spending commission reports, they come up quick and if you miss it, you will be subject to a fine.

Events. If you have a full time job while running for office, I can tell you it can be very difficult especially with public events you’ll need to attend. If you know someone that will be attending, ask them if they can wear your campaign shirt and maybe bring business cards in the case that someone asks for it – DO NOT PASS OUT freely, that’s just tacky. Sooner rather than later you have to work to create fundraisers or attend town hall meetings, but try not to overwhelm yourself. Take care of your health first or you will be unable to meet the needs of those you represent. 

Canvassing — Hawai’i still has an incredible reaction to canvassing. Knock on doors is a great way to get in contact with the older communities across Hawai’i who just want to be heard and don’t like public forums. Just a reminder that the generation with the lowest voter turnouts, millennials and generation z, have a hard time connecting to people who canvass and this is where social media plays a huge role in getting them involved #blessed. 

Aug. 2014 , State Senator David Ige sign waves to on-coming cars as he gears up for the Democratic Primary battle against Governor Neil Abercrombie. Marco Garcia, AP

Then-Candidate for Governor David Ige boasted about his time doing coffee hour in people’s garages while campaigning. This is such a good way to reach out to your community, and who doesn’t like a cup of joe?

While marketing yourself and creating banners and leaflets just remember an old marketing strategy: KISS or “keep it simple, stupid”. Most people like myself have a 3-5 second attention span when it comes to advertisements that come through the mail, consider the following at the moment I open my mailbox:  name, office running for, face, and into the trash can. Sometimes not in that order.

I learned the hard lesson with campaign signs. Often, candidates like to purchase their signs from the mainland with easy accessibility like Vistaprint or Shutterfly, but consider local printing companies that are here and able to help. This provides them an extra boost to keep jobs staying in your local economy. Since we’re on the topic of campaign signs there are three things I learned, unfortunately the hard way: 1) Do not put signs on public property, 2) be sure you place the “Paid by Friends of Blah Blah” on them, and 3) accordance to County of Hawai’i ordinance 04-142, sec 2 and Hawai’i County Code Chapter 3, Article I, Section 3-4 – 3-12 designates dimensions for signs. 

Last, but most importantly, please, please, please talk with your family and friends. For obvious reasons this is so important because they are your foundation! They keep you grounded, check in on you, and have your back even if things don’t end up going the way you had hoped. Don’t forget that!

To all candidates: best of luck and keep working for the best interests of your constituents. This is so important especially in a divisive time like we are in now. I won’t be seeing you folks on the campaign trail as a fellow candidate, but rather a voter in this next election. I’ll be cheering you on from the sidelines. 

Just Mercy: Preemptory Challenge

Courtesy of Warner Brothers Picture

By. Bronsten Kossow

As a disclaimer, I’m not the type of person who writes  a movie review to tell you about shots, styles, depth of field, or even the cast. Usually, I tend to depict how it applies to society or will affect the  future. That being said, here is the “Just Mercy” film review, just in time for Martin Luther King Jr. Day. Oh, and last disclaimer: SPOILERS!

    In a small nut shell, Brian Stevenson (Michael B. Jordan), finds a passion in Law and eventually graduates from the prestigious Harvard Law School. Of all the places, he heads down to Alabama where the racial boundaries still existed in the 1980’s America. There Brian meets with several death row inmates. Among whom was a a man named Walter “Johnny D” McMillan (Jamie Foxx), who had been  convicted for the murder of an 18-year old Caucasian female. However the investigation, witnesses, and trail just didn’t all add up.

    The movie’s overall theme blatantly focused on racism, especially toward the main character Brian Stevenson and the supporting actor, Walter McMillan. 

Now that I have read the book and watched the movie,  I want to get down to the root of what’s just been bugging me about this entire film. . I can’t help but  compare and contrast the difference between the book and the film. There are pieces in the book that prolongs elaborate other reasons  why Mr. McMillan’s case was so interesting. And I do mean to do this crash course style, so hang onto your seats!

    One of these important parts the book describes in detail is Walter McMillan’s first trial. It was quickly portrayed as a brief moment in the film, whereas long-formed in the book. McMillan’s first trail had a serious case of the peremptory challenges and strike of jurors. This action is before the hearing date (voir dire) where both the defense and the prosecution review the juror selection. Jury selection, many times made at random, is supposed to assist in the deliberation of the trial — without bases of racial, political, sex, or other demographics. If the jurors didn’t meet the requirements by both sides you are striked. (Side note: In the O.J. Simpson case the attorneys went through a number of potential jurors, and examined six to strike. This could be based of off sex, race, affiliations, town they lived in, if they’re married, if they were abused, if they own a weapon, etc.) Mr. McMillan subsequently, had a total of eleven hand-selected Caucasian jurors and one African-American.Why only one African-American you might ask? Well, simply because it was “diverse”. McMillan’s rushed trial landed him on death row as a result of a biased jury. This should have been stopped by the judge. 

In 1986, another similar ruling made by the U.S. Supreme Court in Batson v. Kentucky (476 U.S. 79) argued that African American James Batson, who had been convicted of burglary had an unfair trial due to a biased jury. A multitude of African American jurors were excused by the judge. Also, 8 jurors were striked out by the defense and 6 jurors in the prosecution. The Supreme Court decision came to a 7-2 vote in Batson’s favor, acknowledging that Kentucky Courts had violated the equal protection clause of the Fourteenth Amendment to the U.S. Constitution.

    We live in a country where our freedom is tangible. It’s apart of us being American. When courts’ deliberation is harmful to someone because of their race, sex, or title we defaulted the preestablished freedom that was given to us in the first place. The court of Alabama altered the God-given rights and privileges of Mr. McMillan, and his rights of being a United States citizen. Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. stated, “I believe that unarmed truth and unconditional love will have the final word in reality. This is why right, temporarily defeated, is stronger than evil triumphant.”

Impeachment: A Political Death Trap

By. Bronsten Kossow

Photo Courtesy: ABC News

99 U.S. Senators take the oath on impeachment by Chief Justice John Roberts.

    Who would have ever thought that the timing of everything is so unique in the political world. On one side, you have a President who has the possibility of being booted out of office, and on the other hand, a charismatic orchestration of divine opposition to that President. Yes, this is yet another editorial on the impeachment – sorry to any of you who are reading this paper and thinking “ugh”- but needless to say I promise you this won’t be as political as you may think. This is rather a bit more of an observational post.

    As you may know, President Donald John Trump, 45th President of the United States of America had been impeached. If you kept your eyes peeled to the news, you might have caught a whiff of it back in December. Nancy Pelosi (CA, D), Speaker of the House of Representatives, has pushed and garnered enough votes on two articles of impeachment: abuse of power and obstruction of Congress. Whether you’re supportive of this move or in opposition to it, it’s pretty historical to say the least.

    Speaker Pelosi announced just a few days ago (as to when this was written) that the articles will proceed to the United States Senate. In fact, on January 15th she whipped up a Justice League for the prosecution. As you can imagine, a team of litigators that ban together is equivalent to sharks circling its prey – perhaps Mr. Trump would need a “Dream Team” of his own.

    You do have to admit, the timing is odd as President Donald Trump signed and saw approval of two of the largest trade deals, both can be argued as incredibly important for the U.S. economy. If you watched the signing of the new trade deal between U.S. and China you would notice that the Chinese delegation had to wait around for half an hour for the President to finish boasting about himself and his fellow colleagues. Odd? Yes. The following day the U.S.-Mexico-Canada Agreement (USMCA) passed in both houses of congress which was a clear victory for the P.O.T.U.S. If you didn’t know, this is a game of what we call sneaking the ball – trust me I play this game with my dog fairly often. Imagine you’re sitting at home and come across the articles of impeachment headlines across the TV being broadcasted on CNN, but guess what? Flip to Fox News and the P.O.T.U.S makes the largest announcement for the U.S. economy. For fox sake! 

Which leads us to the Impeachment, let’s talk a bit about the Senate side of things. Here are a few requirements:

  • Be a United States Senator.
  • Present during the hearing.
  • Must be quiet. 

    If you think about it, 100 U.S. Senators actually present and doing their job is a miracle and 100 U.S. Senators not making a peep while the entire country, as well as much of the world, watches on.

    Now, four United States Senators – who are Democratic Presidential hopefuls – are completely off of the campaign trail for a week or two because of the impeachment hearings. Those Senators being: Michael Bennet (D, CO), Amy Klobachar (D, MN), Bernie Sanders (I, VT), and Elizabeth Warren (D, MA). 

Here is the next kicker, Iowa caucus is on February 3, 2020. This is a State that has proved to be very important in election history. Senator’s Sanders (20.1%, Monmouth University) and Warren (15.2%, Monmouth University) are currently at the top of the Iowa polls. With them away in Washington D.C., this would mean a presidential hopeful who is not a current U.S. Senator can easily capitalize on Iowa. Yes, my political brain goes to the process of elimination that they teach you in college logic class: former Vice-President Joe Biden has the upper hand in Iowa. If the Senate impeachment proceedings go longer than 2-weeks, you may see a Bernie SADers. I’m not saying you will. I’m just saying you might. But, it sounds like the old guard Democrats want their party back. Can Speaker of the House Nancy Pelosi and Former Vice-President Joe Biden be orchestrating this politically? Now I’m just starting rumors.