Matsunaga announces U.S. House candidacy

Former state senator and son of the late U.S. Sen. and U.S. Rep. Spark Matsunaga, D-Neighbor Islands-rural O‘ahu, Matt Matsunaga, wants to hold the seat once held by his father.

His multi-island tour Tuesday to formally announce his candidacy for the U.S. House of Representatives included a Lihu‘e stop at the historic County Building.

Spark Matsunaga was born and raised on Kaua‘i, and Matt Matsunaga was born on O‘ahu and raised in Washington, D.C.

Matt Matsunaga announced his candidacy for the seat being vacated by U.S. Rep. Ed Case, D-Neighbor Islands-rural O‘ahu, as Case announced he is challenging U.S. Sen. Daniel K. Akaka, D-Hawai‘i, for his U.S. Senate seat.

State Sen. Gary Hooser, D-Kaua‘i-Ni‘ihau, and several others have announced their candidacy for Case’s seat.

Vowing to stand for the betterment of Hawai‘i’s families and small businesses, former Matt Matsunaga announced his candidacy during stops Tuesday on the Big Island, Kaua‘i and O‘ahu.

“I’m committed to strengthening the federal government’s support for these two cornerstones of our state, middleclass working families and the thousands of small businesses who over the past six years have been neglected in Washington,” Matsunaga said.

“Government has a responsibility and an obligation to families, to our keiki, and to the business owners and entrepreneurs who are the driving force behind our economic future,” said Matsunaga.

“As a businessman, a father, and an experienced elected official who knows how government should work, I can be the bridge across interests and parties to bring people together to better the lives of all the people of the Second District.”

Among his priorities, Matsunaga outlined affordable health-care, rebalancing tax benefits toward middle-class working families, and alternative energy development.

“I’ll also work with the Democratic leadership in Congress on two issues particularly important to me: ethics and integrity in government, to make it as good as the people it serves, and protecting the dignity and security of our senior citizens by defending Social Security, enacting pension reform, and fighting to make sure our healthcare system is able to serve those who increasingly depend on it,” Matsunaga said.

In his decade as a state senator, Matsunaga was acclaimed for his effectiveness, accomplishments, and responsiveness, he said.

He received numerous awards for his service, including the “best legislator” honor from the Mental Health Association of Hawaii in 2000.

In the senate, he served as Judiciary Committee co-chair and chair of the Economic Development Committee.

Matsunaga was known for his legislative efforts on crime reduction and justice, in support of public education, protection of retiree health benefits, and as an early and leading force for high technology and renewable-energy development.

He is married to Janel Aolani Matsunaga. Together they have three children.

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