The primary election is all over but for the shouting.
By now, we know who will be moving on to November’s general election. The top two in the mayor’s race, the top 14 in the council race, and candidates for the state Legislature, governor’s office, lieutenant governor’s office and Congress, have all been settled on the sides of Democrats and Republicans and other parties.
Now, the campaigning takes on an even more serious note, and we can expect to see the election process get even more heated, more competitive, more specific. Fewer candidates narrows the spotlight to those left standing.
That said, it’s time to say “mahalo” to those who ran for office and those who took the time to vote. For the candidates, we’ve said it before and we’ll say it again, it takes a lot of guts to seek public office. Sure, councilmembers are well-compensated, as is the mayor, as are legislators and the governor.
Nonetheless, the more people we have getting in involved in the politics process, the better. That means they believe they can make a difference, they can make things better, and they want to try. You can’t be thin-skinned and go into politics. You will be criticized. You will be questioned. You will be targeted. What you did, seeking office, demands courage.
Now, some point out that there were those who ran for council and mayor who had absolutely no chance. None at all. So why waste their time and our time? But you know what? You never know. There are surprises and upsets in politics all the time.
Kauai, the land of the status quo, is probably not the place you’re going to see a major surprise or upset. Everyone knows being an incumbent, having name recognition, is a big advantage in an open election like this. Yet that doesn’t mean anyone should give up or not try. We applaud those who did and who will continue to do so. We thank you for giving it your best, and we hope to see your name back on the ballot.
It’s almost always a bad sign when few seek office. Yes, it could mean everyone is happy and all is well. But it also is a sign that people don’t believe change is possible, have lost hope, and are resigned to following the rest of the sheep. It is heartening to see so many seek public office, even if the odds are strongly against their success.
And for you voters, we thank you for coming out. As many have said, it’s an honor and privilege that we live in a society that it’s the people who determine who represents them. Many in this world do not have that opportunity. Those who took the time to consider the candidates, consider the issues, and cast their ballots believe they can make a difference. And they are right. One vote at a time, they are influencing the present and the future.
We should point out that voter turnout in Hawaii is not generally great. In 2010, primary turnout was 42.8 percent. In 2012, it was 42.3 percent. In 2014, it was 41.5 percent and last year it fell to 34.8 percent, with 252,725 people voting out of 726,940 registered voters.
On Kauai, the primary turnout was: 2010, 43.2 percent; 2012, 39.2 percent; 2014, 47 percent; 2016, 35.5 percent (15,273 voter turnout out of 43,036 registered voters).
So now, on to the general election. Congratulations and good luck to the candidates. We wish you well.
And voters, please continue to pay attention to those who seek your vote. Know what they’ve done, what they want, what they plan to do. Believe when we say Kauai is in your hands. We hope you will take that responsibility with your very best effort.