Political Voices

Much has been said about what it takes to be a worthy candidate for Congress. Epithets have been dispensed and lists of qualifications have been paraded. But no one has focused on what should be the first priority: the people of the Second Congressional District.

I know the District. I live on Kaua’i and have worked hard for Kaua’i both as a member of the Kaua’i County Council and now as its only state Senator. It is where my wife and I have built our life over the past 26 years. It is where our children were born and where I completed my education as a first generation college student.

The 2nd Congressional District is different from urban Honolulu. The neighbor islands represent approximately two thirds of this district and the rest is rural O’ahu. I know the area well.

The 2nd District is country. It’s about open space and country living. It’s not about slick talkers and snappy one-liners. It’s about working people who live close to the land and worry about what we are doing — or not doing — to protect the “almost Heaven of West West Makaha,” the “high ridge mountain, crystal clear blue waters” that is Kamakawiwo’ole memorialized.

It’s about the people in Ka’u, in Hana and in Kekaha. People who sometimes have to wait many hours to get an emergency flight to a Honolulu hospital. There shouldn’t be one standard of healthcare for people in the city and another for those in the country.

It’s about people who worry whether government really cares about people beyond downtown Honolulu. People who worry whether anyone cares enough about the people of the Neighbor Islands and rural Oahu to make sure they get the same priority of service and a fair allocation of resources. It’s about people who want better schools for their children and a more vigorous war — not in far off places — but right here against the drugs that claim too many of our friends and neighbors.

The people of the 2nd Congressional District hold fast to the values of old Hawai’i. Fishing and hunting are still activities pursued by local residents and must be protected from encroaching development. Simple country pleasures like walking along a wild coast-line or swimming in a mountain stream are actual realities. My friends in Honolulu sometimes say that agriculture is dead. But those of us grounded in the realities of living in a country district know that we must be diligent in our efforts to support our farmers. Preserving the natural environment for people who live in the country equates to preserving the quality of life for all. Unless you live this life it is difficult, if not impossible, to fully understand its importance. Keeping the country country is a number one priority to the people of our district.

If you ask the people who live in the 2nd Congressional District they will tell you that they are under-served. Wages are lower, rents are higher and government always seems preoccupied with urban Honolulu. This has to change.

As the only candidate for the 2nd Congressional District who is a Neighbor Island resident, I know the issues that matter to people in the country. I have worked hard on these same issues over the past eight years, first as a member of the Kaua’i County Council and now as a member of the Hawai’i State Senate.

I think I can do more for the people of the 2nd Congressional District because I have been their neighbor, their friend and their advocate. Now I’d like to be their voice and their champion by serving as their Congressman. I know them. And I know the roads they travel.

Shouldn’t that be No. 1 on everyone’s list?

Gary Hooser – D, Kaua’i-Ni’ihau, is s state Senator who lives in Wailua Homesteads.


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