LIHUE — About 300 people came to the Kauai Veterans Center Wednesday evening for a town hall meeting with Congresswoman Tulsi Gabbard.
Gabbard began the evening with a brief introduction regarding her role in government and immediately shined the light on the pressing issue of international relations, particularly North Korea.
“We need more awareness around this issue, at the state level as well as the federal level to be able to build the support around it,” the U.S. representative from Hawaii said. “Provoking North Korea is obviously not only not smart, but also a dangerous proposition.”
The ultimate goal, said Gabbard, would be moving toward denuclearization.
“We have known and monitored as North Korea has continued to increase their military capabilities, increase their range of their inter-continental ballistic missiles and increase their nuclear capabilities … and the fact is that those missiles place Hawaii in range and they have made threats directly against Hawaii and other states in the country,” she said.
Gabbard took questions from the audience, which showed support for her, some holding signs, including one that read, “Tulsi!”“
One man said that he’s seen the Democratic Party shift considerably during his lifetime. For context, he said the first president he voted for was Harry Truman. The gentleman asked Gabbard about the moral compass of the Democratic Party moving forward, and Gabbard responded with a question of her own.
“What should it be? There’s a difference of what it has been, what it is and where it needs to go. It’s been overtaken by big money interests, that’s taken away the heart of the party,” she said.
Not satisfied with Gabbard’s response, the gentleman pushed the question again, only to hear Gabbard say that if the Democratic Party is to be successful, they must “lie within the people.”
Some wanted to hear Gabbard address issues concerning Kauai and the state, such as Nellie Bacio.
“I’m interested in seeing what she has to say as far as the development that’s going on in Kauai,” Bacio said. “And what we can do to preserve the lands, and how we can ease the flow of the incoming population.”
Gaetano Vasta questioned the leadership of the country.
“When are we going to see Trump’s taxes? Why is he not being taken to task with all these signings he’s done lately? He makes errors every time he speaks. He’s acting a little bit too quickly on things,” Vasta said. “I don’t like the crap that’s going on in Syria, but I would much rather have him take that money he spent on that bomb to help those that are sick, injured and want to relocate.”
Gabbard was also asked about the status of the legalization of marijuana.
“There is contradiction between federal and state law. Marijuana is still listed as Schedule 1 substance on the federal controlled substance list, on par with heroin. It’s a very big concern that we and 27 other states are trying to navigate through this,” she said.
Earlier in the day, Gabbard participated in a briefing and tour of Anahola Hawaiian Homestead land that is being used for residents, farming, businesses, and projects that benefit Native Hawaiians.
She then joined in a roundtable discussion with Anahola Hawaiian Homestead Association board members, representatives from the Sovereign Council of Hawaiian Homelands Associations and the Homeland Community Development Council, and other community leaders to focus on the Homestead’s accomplishments and needs, and their people’s rights, future, and efforts to support food and energy security for their communities and the island.
In Lihue, Gabbard visited the world’s largest solar storage facility and discussed with Kauai Island Utility Cooperative board members and business leaders her work to support their contributions to helping Hawaii reach its energy efficiency goals.
Gabbard’s town hall tour of the islands will conclude today on Maui.