Sierra Club endorses 48 candidates statewide

The Sierra Club’s Hawai‘i Chapter recently unveiled its slate of endorsements for federal, state and county races.

The non-partisan environmental organization endorsed 48 candidates for the state’s primary election on Sept. 20, but more are expected for the general election on Nov. 4, said Jeff Mikulina, the chapter director.

The Sierra Club’s Kauai Group has decided to endorse JoAnn Yukimura for mayor based on her record of environmental achievements, Executive Committee member Judy Dalton said.

Yukimura, who served as the county’s mayor from 1988 to 1994, has championed renewable energy initiatives and island sustainability, she said.

Yukimura is running against Mel Rapozo, Bernard Carvalho and Rolf Bieber.

As far as state and national legislators go, the Sierra Club has again picked U.S. Rep. Mazie Hirono, D-2nd District; state Sen. Gary Hooser, D-7th District; and state Rep. Mina Morita, D-14th District.

“Sen. Hooser and Rep. Morita have been the vanguards of environmental policy at the state capitol,” Mikulina said in an interview this week. “Hooser, who is now the majority leader, has been driving transformative change like the solar roofs bill. Morita knows environmental policy better than anyone in that building.”

Republican JoAnne Georgi is running against Hooser. Morita is unopposed.

“Gary and Mina are very balanced about what’s realistic in driving policy,” Mikulina said. “They are fair and balanced in picking the legislative issues that they’re pushing.”

For instance, he said, the historic bill that passed last session requiring solar water heaters on new homes will save 10,000 tons of CO2 annually, but will also drive job creation and keep money in the island’s economy.

The Sierra Club’s picks for the rest of the hotly contested Kaua‘i County races are expected after the primary, he said.

The director said Hirono, in her first two years in Washington D.C., has stayed “true to her environmental roots.”

“Particularly now, with the way things are set up in Washington, we need strong voices like hers to represent our Neighbor Islands,” Mikulina said.

Republican Roger Evans, Libertarian Lloyd Mallan of Kapa‘a and independent Shaun Stenshol are running against Hirono.

“Candidates endorsed by the Sierra Club will help to protect Hawai‘i’s clean water, special places and spectacular biodiversity while putting Hawai‘i on a path to energy independence,” said Hawai‘i Chapter Executive Committee member Gary Gill in a news release. “They understand a healthy environment is the foundation of a strong economy.”

The Sierra Club’s endorsement process involved sending detailed surveys out to the candidates, interviewing many of them and reviewing their records. All endorsements received a majority vote from at least two Sierra Club committees of elected leaders in order to be approved.

The Sierra Club is endorsing a diverse field of candidates statewide. Just over half of the endorsements are proven incumbents, while the others are promising “green” challengers, the news release states.

“We believe that our endorsed candidates will not rigidly adhere to the Democrat’s agenda, nor the Republican’s agenda, but Hawai‘i’s sustainability agenda,” said Randy Ching, O‘ahu Group chairman. “We need to work together to ensure a sustainable Hawai‘i for generations to come.”

The Sierra Club was faced with some tough choices in selecting legislative candidates for endorsement. While the Sierra Club may disagree with an endorsed candidate on a specific issue, the endorsement decision was based on the candidate’s overall sustainability vision, the news release states.

For the state House, the Sierra Club chose to endorse environmental incumbents Faye Hanohano, Mele Carroll, Morita, Lyla Berg, Maile Shimabukuro and Cynthia Thielen, among others.

In the Senate, notable incumbents Hooser, J. Kalani English, Clarence Nishihara and Clayton Hee received the club’s approval.

“These legislators have gone to bat for Hawai‘i’s environment year after year,” Gill said.

Sen. Ron Menor received his first endorsement from the Sierra Club. For the past two years, the Mililani senator has been a solid advocate for clean energy and recycling issues as chair of the Senate Energy and Environment Committee.

In the House, the Sierra Club hopes to replace two incumbents with progressive green challengers. The Sierra Club endorsed environmental attorney Jessica Wooley in Windward O‘ahu District 47 seat to replace Colleen Meyer, a six-term incumbent who ranked dead last on the Sierra Club’s legislative scorecard — a position she has held on four of the past five scorecards over the past decade.

Community advocate Summer Star received the blessing of the Club for the Maui Upcountry District 12 race over incumbent Kyle Yamashita. Yamashita is known as the chair of the Economic Development and Business Concerns Committee, where he stopped a bill to increase the convenience of the state container recycling law, the news release says.

For the city and county of Honolulu, Ann Kobayashi is the best choice for mayor, according to the Sierra Club. The club highlighted Kobayashi’s slate of sustainability measures she authored and pushed over the past year on council to increase recycling, bicycle use and clean energy.

The Sierra Club was also highly critical of Mufi Hannemann’s record of anti-environmental actions, including fighting the islandwide curbside recycling program, continuing to fight citizen groups in court over thousands of sewage spills, rejecting energy-saving initiatives from the previous administration, granting approvals for Turtle Bay resort expansion and failing to support green initiatives to improve O‘ahu sustainability, the release says.

“Ann Kobayashi is our choice for a more sustainable O‘ahu,” said Gill. “Ann brings vision and a collaborative approach to solve the tough problems we face with O‘ahu’s environment.”

The Sierra Club’s endorsements are posted at www.hi.sierraclub.org/endorsements

Additional endorsements will be posted after the primary election.

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