Sierra Club Unveils Maui Endorsements
By Wendy Osher
The Hawaii Chapter of the Sierra Club, unveiled its primary election endorsements for 62 of Hawaii’s legislative and some county races this week.
In the state senate, all three of Maui’s incumbents (Shan Tsutsui, Roz Baker and J. Kalani English) were supported by the Sierra Club.
In the state house, Maui incumbents Gil Keith-Agaran, Angus McKelvey and Mele Carroll were supported, as well as newcomers Kaneila Ing and Ekolu Kalama.
At the county level, West Maui Council Member Elle Cochran and Lana’i Council Member Riki Hokama were endorsed. Also endorsed at the council level were candidates Don Guzman, and Stacy Helm Crivello.
Sierra Club officials say their endorsement process involved detailed surveys and a review of candidate records.
“Candidates endorsed by the Sierra Club will help to protect Hawaii’s clean water, special places, and spectacular biodiversity while putting Hawai`i on a path to a sustainable future,” said Lance Holter, Co-Chair of the Political Committee of the Hawaii Chapter of the Sierra Club and Maui resident. “They know that a healthy environment is the foundation of a strong economy.”
While many of those endorsed are incumbents, nearly a quarter are challengers.
“A number of Republicans went to the bat for the environment last year, and we highlighted them in this election,” said Robert D. Harris, Director of the Hawaii Chapter. “That being said, we believe our endorsed candidates will not rigidly adhere to the Democrat’s agenda, nor the Republican’s agenda, but to Hawaii’s agenda,” Harris continued. “Everyone needs to work together to ensure a sustainable Hawai`i for generations to come.”
With 12,000 members, the group is the state’s largest environmental grass roots organization.
Other endorsements in the State Senate included: Gilbert Kahele, Joshua Green, Les Ihara, Carol Fukunaga, Brickwood Galuteria, Suzanne Chun Oakland, Donna Mercado Kim, David Ige, Clarence Nishihara, Mike Gabbard, Maile Shimabukuro, and Clayton Hee. Newcomer Russell Ruderman was selected for newly-created District 2; Laura Thielen was endorsed in District 25; and Lorraine Inouye was endorsed in District 4.
Other endorsements in the State House include: incumbents Mark Nakashima, Fay Hanohano, Gene Ward, Della Au Belatti, Sylvia Luke, Scott Saiki, Corinne Ching, Karl Rhoads, Aaron Ling Johanson, Mark Takai, Roy Takumi, Marilyn Lee, Gil Riviere, Jessica Wooley, Cynthia Thielen, and Chris Lee. Challengers Brittany Smart, Nicole Lowen, Keiko Bonk and Dwight Synan (joint endorsement in District 20), Greg Takayama, Joseph Rattner, Matt LoPresti, and Lauren Cheape were also endorsed.
“We chose a strong mix of new and veteran candidates,” said Harris. “We also made the conscientious decision to withhold endorsements from a number of candidates that lead or pursued efforts to eliminate regulations protecting Hawaii’s environment in last year’s legislative session,” said Harris.
On the Big Island, Harry Kim was endorsed for Mayor. For the Hawai’i County Council, Steve Wilhelm, James Weatherford, Zendo Kern, Brenda Ford, Karen Eoff, and Margaret Wille were endorsed.
Endorsements are still being considered in the City and County of Honolulu and County of Kaua’i races.