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HOOSER: 2024 elections cannot come soon enough

I remember sitting at the dinner table shortly after the elections in 2000 and remarking to my family “Aren’t you glad the campaign is over?”

My daughter Kelli-Rose, who was 12 years old at the time, didn’t miss a beat replying immediately “Are you kidding Dad? It’s never over.”

Of course, she was right.

And here we are today.

The 2022 general election is only 5 months behind us and the August 2024 primary coming at us like a freight train — only 14 months from now.

New candidates need to start getting their ducks in a row, now.

Incumbents, whether council members or state legislators, have the benefit of continuous public exposure.

New candidates must work hard to build that critically important name recognition, connect with community and meet the voters, which takes time.

There is a clear need to add new, more independent voices to the mix at the state Legislature, in both the House and Senate.

To put a point on it: We need voices that are willing to rock the boat and not just “go along to get along.”

The ongoing lack of transparency, the unchecked and abusive concentration of power, and ongoing federal investigations make the call for new leadership palpable.

I get calls, texts and emails almost daily from residents across the archipelago asking the same questions over and over again, “Who is going to run? Who can we support and help? This 2023 session was a disaster. Who is going to throw their name in the hat to help change the dynamics at the capitol? Who can win against the incumbents in positions of power and responsible for this mess?”

We all are aware of the challenges facing our community. The nonexistence of affordable housing, the overdevelopment of a tourism-based economy, the horrible traffic jams, the deteriorating quality of both nearshore ocean waters and our drinking water, public corruption, high costs of imported food, low pay for our teachers, etc,, etc,, etc.

The list is long and the needs are great. The resources needed to deal with the issues are available, as are the strategies and solutions to better manage each of these challenges.

Yet, political leaders now at the helm prefer spending $500 million on a football stadium, $700 million on a “cop city” campus the cops don’t even want, and pour another $33 million into the capitol reflecting pool.

What’s lacking is a critical mass of political will. While an increasing number of legislators are acknowledging the status quo at the Capitol is unacceptable, we need more who are actually willing to take the bold action needed to change it.

2024 is the year to make it happen.

But new candidates who possess the energy, the ideas and the backbone, and who are unafraid of bucking the status quo, must step up.

I know you are out there.

I also know you are probably unsure if running and serving in public office is the right choice for you.

You don’t know if you can win, you don’t really know how to run a political campaign, and you have no real clue what serving in public office actually entails.

Been there, done that.

As long as you have roots in the community, some track record of achievement in education, community, business or government, believe that we are all in this together and are willing to stand up and be counted when it matters most (which is now), I don’t care where you live or what office you are considering running for, we need you.


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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