Constituents chat with Hirono about war

HANALEI — U.S. Rep. Mazie Hirono, D-District 2, hosted about 15 constituents at a “Congress on Your Corner” community forum yesterday afternoon at the Hanalei Elementary School.

The first-term congresswoman briefed attendees on the issues most important to her before taking questions.

“The war in Iraq and the cost of the war overlays so much of what we’re trying to do in Congress,” she said, estimating its price at $300 million per day and nearing $1 trillion for the full length of the war.

An aide later read a list of Hirono-supported House resolutions designed to end the war and bring troops home.

She also mentioned energy independence, environmental concerns and education programs such as STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering and Math) as top priorities.

Constituents, who had traveled to Hanalei from as far as Koloa, barraged the representative with questions on topics as diverse as planes flying overhead, health care reimbursement, supporting the arts, boat tours in Hanalei Bay, plastic recycling technology, the federal budget and local whale sanctuaries.

Attendee Carla Hart, a former educator, spoke at length about the growing suicide epidemic on Kaua‘i and lamented the lack of resources available to those with depression issues, especially teenagers.

“In my experiences, it often is that you need the sparkplug, you need the champion,” Hirono said. “There are so many causes, so many good things that we can be working on.”

Multiple constituents passionately argued in favor of new impeachment counts brought against President George W. Bush by U.S. Rep. Dennis Kucinich, D-Ohio; the need for accountability in government; and the importance of upholding the Constitution.

“I share your frustration, (but) we’re a democratic institution. Votes matter, and we do not have the votes to proceed on impeachment. But we do have the votes to proceed on some other matters,” Hirono said.

She added that her role is to “move the ball” in a particular direction for any of a number of issues important to constituents.

Hirono, who flew in Friday from Washington, D.C., will be heading back to the East Coast on Monday. She was last on Kaua‘i for Kapa‘a High School’s graduation.

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