ILWU backs Hooser, Kouchi in upcoming primary election

County Councilmember Gary Hooser in the Democratic state Senate race, and County Council Chair Ron Kouchi for mayor, recently won endorsements from the Kaua’i and statewide International Longshore & Warehouse Union.

“I’m thrilled to have the endorsement,” said Hooser. “I think it shows the diversity of my support.” Hooser also gained endorsements from the Hawaii State Teachers Association, University of Hawaii Professional Assembly, Sierra Club, Hawaii Nurses Association, Carpenter’s Union Local 745, operating engineers’ union, and others.

“I’m thrilled and appreciative,” said Kouchi. “They’ve always supported me, and I’m honored they feel I’m the best candidate to represent their membership.”

Kouchi also feels his mix of endorsements, with private-sector employees like ILWU members, and public-sector support from the United Public Workers union, plus a Sierra Club backing and nods from other organizations, shows broad support for his platform to create jobs to allow young Kauaians to return home after college, while taking into consideration the environment and quality of life.

Incumbents also winning ILWU endorsements include state House candidates Mina Morita, Ezra Kanoho and Bertha Kawakami, and Council incumbent Daryl Kaneshiro. Five other Council hopefuls were given endorsements by the union: Ernest Moniz, Jr., Maurice “Joe” Munechika, Ray Paler, Mel Rapozo and JoAnn Yukimura.

U.S. Rep. Patsy Mink is being backed by the ILWU in her re-election bid.

“An ILWU endorsement means we are making a commitment of support to that candidate,” said Eusebio Lapenia, Jr., state ILWU Local 142 president.

“We actively back up our endorsements by bringing out volunteers to help with the campaign and urging our members and their families to vote for those candidates that can best do the job for the working families of Hawai’i,” Lapenia said.

“The ILWU takes its endorsements seriously,” he added.

On Kaua’i there are around 2,100 ILWU members, including some employees of Young Brothers, McCabe Hamilton & Renny, Hyatt Regency Kauai Resort and Spa, Gay & Robinson, Foodland, Wilcox Hospital, Princeville Corporation, Midpac Auto Center, Pacific Machinery, PS&D (Pacific Service & Development), Meadow Gold Dairies, Kauai Commercial, and the island’s golf courses with the exception of the county’s Wailua Golf Course.

The ILWU endorsements are the result of a democratic process within the union’s Kaua’i division Political Action Committee (PAC), and must be approved by the union’s division and statewide PACs, composed of delegates representing the union’s members, Lapenia said.

An official endorsement is required before the union can contribute funds to a candidate’s campaign or otherwise lend support to a candidate, he said.

Staff Writer Paul C. Curtis can be reached at mailto:pcurtis@pulitzer.net or 245-3681 (ext. 224).

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