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HOOSER: Why I am here, in 3 minutes or 549 words

I had three minutes. The group I was speaking to was a new organization, formed to support candidates whose values supported people and the ‘aina. The question I was asked to speak to was: “Why are we here?”

The question both on a superficial and existential level is, of course, a relevant one. The answer is a much-needed reminder to those of us engaged in the world of policy and politics.

So I did my best in my three minutes to explain briefly at least why I was there, standing in front of the room of about 25 people and a virtual streaming audience of many more.

In short, I was there because I am afraid for our future, determined to fight back to make it better, and hopeful because of the many others who share that same commitment to make positive change happen.

I was there because we are losing our coastlines to global warming, our mountain streams to corporate ownership, and our natural environment is under assault daily from the impacts of tourism.

I was there because 42% of our friends and neighbors struggle daily simply to survive. We have families living under bridges, in cars, and in encampments far back in the kiawe — just a short distance away from luxury homes sitting empty, rented to foreign tourists, or occupied by the 1%.

Yes, I was there together with many others because we feel a deep sense of urgency and are committed to making our community and our world a better place.

Sounds like a grand idea, but really it’s not.

It’s basic kuleana. It’s being responsible for our children’s future, and it’s a refusal to let the bullies win.

We know there are solutions to our many challenges. We know that with a stroke of a pen, with the passage of new, forward-thinking public policy initiatives, accompanied by the funding and political will to implement and support those policies, we can in fact protect our natural environment, expand income equality and protect the most vulnerable in our community.

And we know that to make the positive changes needed requires community and political leadership that understands the urgency, is willing to push back against those profiting from the status quo, and who put ‘aina and the people first.

The organization I was speaking to on this day is called Huli-Pac, They are a Hawai’i Island-based, grassroots organization formed to identify, support and help elect new political leadership in their community. HULI stands for “Help Uplift Leaders with Integrity.” Their mission says “We endorse and support candidates and office holders of integrity who serve ‘aina and the people of Hawai‘i Island.”

Similar organizations and citizen-based groups exist also in Maui County. My hope is that this fever to support positive change will spread, and similar groups will form here on Kaua‘i as well.

We in fact have good people stepping up to run for office, individuals with roots in the community who share our sense of urgency and who are willing to put people and the planet above corporate profits, and we must help them.

That’s the reason I was there, and that’s the message I tried to share in my three minutes.


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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