Fall 2002 Home   Newsletters

Winter 2002

Convention Edition 2003

Impossible Electoral Contest (Jean Aoki)
Jean Aoki Honored
Hawaii Clean Elections Coalition (Grace Furukawa)
This Land Was Your Land
Howard Criss
Initiative and Referendum Study (Marian Wilkins)
Travel Fundraiser (Grace Furukawa)
Recent Publications Available in League's Library
Local League News - Honolulu (Pearl Johnson)
Local League News - Hawaii (Marian Wilkins)
Local League News - Kaua'i (Carol Bain)
Local League News - Maui (Andrea Dean)

The Impossible Electoral Contest

I hope that the citizens of Hawaii never again have to face an election such as the one held on January 4 – a winner-take-all contest with 44 contestants. Clearly, our laws governing special elections need careful review.

This election cried out for televised forums or debates where some really hard questions were asked and cogent and direct answers demanded – not the canned prepared speeches that cleverly skirt the issues. We were approached by different parties to sponsor such a debate or forum, and it would have been a tremendous service for the community. But how do you plan even an informative forum, much less a debate, which would include 44 participants? What acceptable reason (s) would there be to exclude some? Or how do you divide the candidates for a series of forums or debates without facing protests and criticisms on the criteria used for the division? A random division would probably bring unsatisfactory results.

How else were we to really know the candidates and decide who would be our delegate? What did we expect of our congressional delegate? No matter what our individual views on the many problems that confront our nation, the stakes were extremely high, both short range and long term.

I've watched some of the debates by candidates for congressional offices in the various states, the latest being Mary Landrieu and Suzanne Terrell of Louisiana, and the focus seemed primarily on local issues – protecting the military bases in the states from closures, getting federal funds for local transportation needs, etc., etc. As important as these are for the individual states, especially because states are being negatively impacted by the downturn in the economy nationwide and are facing huge deficits, we do have large national issues to address – the growing federal budget deficit, deregulation and corporate fraud, the under-funding and weakening of oversight agencies, environmental concerns, the need for a sane energy policy, privacy concerns, social security and medicare reforms, tax policies and reform, (Can someone enlighten me on why criticism of tax policies that favor the extremely wealthy is considered "class warfare," whereas the adoption of such policies is not?), the erosion of civil rights, the "pending" war on Iraq, homeland security, the recently announced plans by the Bush administration to relax environmental concerns in the use of our public lands – the list seems endless.

We needed to know the candidates' stands on these issues. Beyond that, we needed to know, for Republicans, what the candidates see as their roles in setting and furthering the agenda of the majority party in Congress, and, for Democrats, what the candidates see as their roles as members of the opposition party.

It was important for us as voters to vote for the person who is most qualified to help the caucus of our choice, be it the majority or the minority, fulfill its goals which each of us considers are in the best interests of the nation and its citizens. Who can best define the needs of the nation's people? Who can most aggressively contribute to his/her party's deliberations to steer it in the right direction? And how in the world were we to answer these questions, given 44 candidates?

I would really like to hear from anyone with any ideas on the subject..

Jean Aoki

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