Wailua resident Gary Hooser recently received a triple dose of support in his campaign for re-election as the sole state senator representing Kaua‘i and Ni‘ihau.
The Hawai‘i Carpenters Union and the Hawai‘i Sierra Club announced their endorsement of the Democrat, joining the University of Hawai‘i Professional Assembly.
Hooser said he was honored and “especially pleased” that both the workers union and environmental group decided to back him.
“Often times they are portrayed as pursuing opposite agendas; however, in today’s world there is a growing awareness of the importance of balancing job and construction growth with environmental protection,” Hooser said on Thursday.
Hooser served on the Kaua‘i County Council from 1998 until he was elected to the state Senate in 2002.
He became the Senate majority leader in 2006 and has served on the influential Senate Ways and Means Committee for the past six years.
Hawai‘i Sierra Club executive committee officer Judy Dalton said she made the motion for the state chapter to endorse Hooser along with state Rep. Mina Morita, D-14th District, based on their “outstanding environmental records.” It passed unanimously.
The club has endorsed Hooser, a 28-year Kaua‘i resident, since his bid for a seat on the council.
“We appreciate the thought and research that went into making your many wise voting decisions that always put the environment at the forefront,” Dalton says in a statement to Hooser. “We’re so pleased and proud that you are our senator from Kaua‘i.”
A graduate of Kaua‘i Community College and the University of Hawai‘i, West O‘ahu, Hooser owned and operated a small publishing business and a real estate office prior to being elected to public office.
From the Global Warming Solutions Act of 2007 to last year’s solar water heating mandate for all new homes, “Gary has been on the front lines in moving Hawai‘i’s sustainability agenda,” Hawai‘i Sierra Club Executive Committee Chair Lucienne DeNaie says in a statement to members.
The statewide political action committee of the Hawai‘i Carpenters Union Local 745, under the chairmanship of Paul Chang, announced its early endorsement of Hooser on Thursday.
“The backing of Hooser by the state’s largest construction union was predicated by his outstanding years of service in the Senate,” a news release says.
“He has proved to be an invaluable friend of all working people and a legislator who understands the balance of helping both labor and management,” Chang said.
“The Kaua‘i senator also has done an exceptional job as majority leader in tackling a wide range of important issues affecting the people of Hawai‘i.”
The union has 7,700 members statewide and is in the middle of a historic voter registration and get-out-the-vote drive.
Hooser said in the past the union and the club at times sat on opposite sides of the room, one fighting for jobs and the other to protect the environment.
“More and more people, including the construction industry, are realizing we have a finite amount of natural resources and it makes sense to take care of them,” he said. “The people in the Sierra Club know that we have to have a certain amount of construction — we have to have affordable housing, we have to have a strong economy. The workers know we need a vibrant environment.”
The University of Hawai‘i Professional Assembly, which announced its endorsement March 17, says Hooser shares its goals for higher education in the state.
Hooser, who has always had an opponent in previous races, remains unopposed as of Thursday. The filing deadline is July 22.
“We’re going to run a strong campaign regardless of who runs or if no one chooses to run,” he said. “The people of Kaua‘i deserve that. I want to get out and knock on doors and meet as many people as I can. That’s what this time is for.”
When Hooser last ran for re-election, he said his Republican opponent, former Kaua‘i Mayor Maryanne Kusaka, started campaigning in November or December of the previous year.
“Normally a strong opponent would’ve turned out by now, but it’s also not unusual for someone to file at the last minute,” Hooser said.
• Nathan Eagle, staff writer, can be reached at 245-3681 (ext. 224) or email@example.com