Hirono opens Kaua’i campaign headquarters

Thursday evening marked the official opening of Democratic gubernatorial candidate Mazie Hirono’s Kaua’i headquarters.

Hirono said it was a “very emotional” choice to run for governor, and that as an immigrant, she never thought she would have the opportunity to try and represent the state. Hirono is one of two women running for governor. If elected, either would be the first woman in Hawai’i’s history to hold the office.

Hirono said she reflects upon her reputation of fairness and dedication over her 22 years in Hawai’i politics, points that supporters say make her the best woman for the job.

Earlier this year, Hirono was running for governor, but dropped out to run for Honolulu mayor when current mayor Jeremy Harris decided to also run for governor. But when Harris decided not to run for governor, Hirono quickly shifted gears and rejoined the governor’s race.

Hirono says her focus has always been getting the job done, not just simply taking a position, she said.

“Anyone can take a stand…we need to be results-oriented,” she said in an interview at her headquarters Thursday evening.

Hirono said that in this campaign she will focus on education and diversifying the Hawai’i economy.

She addressed about 100 supporters.

“I want to listen to you, find out what your priorities are, listen to what your needs are, combine the state’s resources and your resources,” Hirono said. “We are going to move this state for the people.”

Some important issues for Kaua’i include easing traffic congestion, improving harbors and supporting the film industry, plus rebuilding after ‘Iniki and 9/11.

“I think there’s a future for film on Kaua’i,” Hirono said. Partnerships between the state and local film commissions and future film production programs at the University of Hawai’i can increase the number of locally-produced films, she said.

Hirono says one of her top priorities is diversifying Hawai’i’s economy and tourism after 9/11 using closer alliances with the University of Hawai’i’s “University Connections” board, which enhances the business and entrepreneurial aspects of the university.

“Hawai’i is already at the forefront of high technology research…we must partner with the University very closely,” Hirono said.

Hirono said she supports the West Kaua’i Technology & Visitors Center, and was on hand for the Phase II groundbreaking ceremony this June.

She said she was not aware of the recent CO2 ocean sequestration experiment proposed (but recently halted) for Kaua’i waters, but said she would not support research that would harm people or living things.

Biotechnology, astronomy, health and ocean research top her list of University-sponsored high tech opportunities to bring jobs into Hawai’i and develop a strong yet diverse economy.

In public education, she said that character education and service learning teaches that we can all make a contribution and make difference in our lives, Hirono said.

Recruiting quality educators is a priority, she said. Teachers are the most important people in the classroom to make sure children get the education they need.

Partnering with district superintendents and the Department of Education to make sure the state’s resources go to providing the tools, skills and attitudes students need to succeed.

Diversifying our economy to include the high-tech industry goes hand in hand with education, she said. “We cannot have a strong, vibrant economy without an educated public,” Hirono said.

Companies and high-tech research firms will not enter Hawai’i unless we have intelligent young people and workers to support it, she explained.

Diversifying tourism is the key to supporting our Number One industry. It’s not just about the surf and sun anymore, Hirono said.

“Experiential tourism” incorporates health and wellness, education and ecology, she said, adding that “Kaua’i is a place that attracts people who are interested in a holistic and spiritual retreat.”

Mazie Hirono said she is actively trying to involve younger voters and the women of Kaua’i in this election.

Hirono said that she encourages younger students to get acquainted with the voting process and is actively involved with the “Kids Vote” program, taking children to polling places on Election Day.

She will attend a “coffee hour” at the Kaua’i campaign headquarters on Aug. 9, and invites young women especially, to get to know what she stands for.

“The thing about younger voters is you need to get involved,” Hirono added.

Hirono’s next scheduled trip to Kaua’i is on Aug. 3 for a campaign kick-off fundraiser at Smith’s Tropical Paradise.

Hirono’s campaign headquarters is located at 3-3204 Kuhio Hwy., Suite 106, next to A Touch of Elegance Salon and Local Boy’s Drive Inn. The headquarters telephone number is 245-9311 or 245-9312.

On the Web: www.maziehirono.net.

Staff Writer Kendyce Manguchei can be reached at kmanguchei@pulitzer.net or 245-3681 (ext. 253).

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