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Choosing the future county council

It’s last call. The polls will be closing soon. Voting is in full swing and the absolute deadline to walk-in your ballot and or vote in person is Nov. 8. All the info on how to register and vote on the same day is at

The Kaua‘i County Council race is probably the most interesting thing on the ballot. The vast majority of the other races are either terribly lopsided or otherwise uninspiring (I’m sure the candidates would argue about this characterization).

Based on the August primary election results, if voting patterns don’t change in the general election, the good ole boys are going to win. I say this with a slight bit of sarcasm and an even slighter hint of affection. After all, I’ve served in government and politics for the past 20 years and by definition some would say that I’m a good ole boy myself.

But of course I’m not running for election to public office. I’ve chosen instead to make space for others at that table and to serve in other ways. I only wish some of those now on the ballot would have done the same. There are lots of ways to serve if service is in fact your objective.

Term limits for council members were approved by a more than 2-to-1 margin in 2006. The message was loud and strong — eight years is enough. Serve eight years, and then step aside and make space for new people to serve on the council.

Unfortunately it’s turned into a revolving door with a two-year break in between elections. Consequently, in 2022 we now have the past attempting to join the present.

That’s not to say that good ole boys are not nice guys. They of course are not bad people. They just look at the world through a good ole boy lens with an affinity for maintaining the status quo. Most of them are nice enough. There’s only one who I would consider not so nice and I’ll drop that little note right here (knowing how fun it is to speculate).

This is not gendered slang inclusive of men and women. This is literally about the previous male council members coming back, taking over, and eliminating the possibility of additional women being elected to the council.

At the end of the August primary election, six of the top seven vote getters were men and six are incumbents or former incumbents, having served in the past on the council.

If nothing changes on Nov. 8, the good ole boys will win again and there will be a dearth of the female perspective, and a dearth of new energy, new ideas and new leadership.

There are several qualified women possessing a wealth of experience and potential, down the line, but for them to win, at least two of the good ole boys must lose.

This is the way it works:

In order for a candidate to move up they must get more votes on Nov. 8 than those above them. This means as a voter, if you’re interested in ensuring that the new energy, new ideas and the new candidates now at the bottom of the pile move up to the top or at least the middle of the pile and actually win — you must refrain from voting for the candidates above them in the line up.

That’s the bottom line, or at least that’s the only way the bottom line will move to the middle of the line and actually have a chance to be elected and to serve.

To be clear, not every guy on the list is a bad guy or a good ole boy. Define them as you see fit. And as I said earlier, even the good ole boys are not necessarily bad guys (except maybe that one I was referring to above).

If you want more diversity of ideas on the council and less of the rinse and repeat, then you must not vote for any good ole boys at all — period. Not one.

No matter how clever, nice, friendly or cool the old guard may appear to be — don’t give them your vote.

If you truly want change, then vote for it and elect new energy, new ideas and, yes, more women. If you are feeling particularly generous, throw a vote if you must to one of the good guys.

But do not under any circumstances cast votes for candidates who might then beat the one or two or maybe three that you really and truly want to win.

Now, go vote. Please. Today. Don’t wait until the last day.


Gary Hooser is the former vice-chair of the Democratic Party of Hawai‘i, and served eight years in the state Senate, where he was majority leader. He also served for eight years on the Kaua‘i County Council, and was the former director of the state Office of Environmental Quality Control. He serves in a volunteer capacity as board president of the Hawai‘i Alliance for Progressive Action and is executive director of the Pono Hawai‘i Initiative.
Source: The Garden Island

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