A users’ guide to three local elections

June 2nd is the deadline for candidates to file for public office and August 8th is the date of Hawai‘i’s primary election.

There will be at least one opening on the seven member Kaua‘i County Council as Ross Kagawa is “termed out” and cannot run for re-election. We can thank the wisdom of voters who put into place term limits for Councilmembers some years ago for this fortuitous situation.

There will also likely be a second opening on the Council as most would assume that Arthur Brun, currently under felony indictment for assaulting a police officer (with his car), will not be running for re-election. But of course when it come to Kaua‘i politics, anything is possible.

The truth is, all seven Council seats are “open”. As are the positions of our State Senator and the three Kaua‘i Representatives. Just because an individual is sitting in the seat does not mean they own it.

Competition is a good thing and our community benefits from “contested elections” that force incumbents and challengers alike to work for the communities support and vote. Incumbents should be asked to explain their accomplishments and their lack of accomplishments. Challengers must explain and convince the voter of their ideas, energy, ability and commitment.

This is the time when voters must ask the tough but obvious questions.

Is the Kapa‘a traffic better or worse than it was when the incumbent was first elected? What will the challenger do differently to address this long neglected situation?

Is Housing more affordable or less affordable than it was when the incumbent was first elected? Again, what are the challengers ideas?

How often has the incumbent held community meetings to hear personally and directly the needs, thoughts and concerns of the community? Note: A mailed survey, cookbooks and fancy brochures do not replace a genuine community meeting.

Unfortunately too often there is no challenger to choose from. Too often the incumbent gets a free pass while the voter gets shortchanged.

Many good potential candidates sit on the sidelines often locked by indecision, not knowing where to begin or what it actually takes to be elected and to serve.

I’m writing today to tell you it’s not that complicated, and that our community needs you. Am also writing to let you know that serving in public office can be incredibly fulfilling and does not have to be the so-called “thankless job” that many allude to.

The steps to running for election to public office are the same, regardless of what office you choose.

Answer the question “Why are you running?”

Assemble a small team of two or three volunteers who will help you manage your campaign – A treasurer accountant type who can help manage the campaigns bookkeeping and a campaign manager type who you can consult with and bounce ideas off.

File an “organizational report” with the campaign spending commission. This is required before you can raise or spend any money on a campaign.

Open a bank account for the campaign

Ask 20 friends to contribute $50 or more to your campaign. Note: If you can’t do this, you should stop now. While you don’t need a zillion dollars to run and win, you do need to raise money for basic campaign materials.

Design and print a post card type “walking piece” and a campaign business card. Keep it simple. The first printing should be just a few hundred pieces, enough to get started.

Head on down to the County Office of Elections and “pull papers”. These are the forms needed to actually file to run for office. Bring a diverse group of family and friends with you. Take pictures, issue a press release, post on social media. Celebrate the huge step you are taking. Get the buzz going.

Start knocking on doors and handing out your campaign materials. Everywhere you go, every person you meet- give them your campaign card.

Work with your campaign team. Analyze your district. Figure out what is important to the voters in your district. Hint – It’s the traffic in Kapa‘a and elsewhere. It’s the lack of affordable housing. It’s the general poor condition of our roads, etc.

Listen to the voters. Don’t tell them what’s important to you until after you find out what’s important to them.

Do not worry about having big events. Host one such event possibly just before election day but FOCUS ON THE BASICS – Hold signs in the morning and knock on doors in the afternoon. REPEAT. REPEAT. REPEAT.

You must be willing to ask people for help, and yes ask them for money as well.

Be yourself. Have fun. Smile. Speak from the heart. Do your homework. Listen to people.

I suggest you start now. There is a lot of work to do.


Gary Hooser formerly served in the Hawaii State Senate, where he was Majority Leader. He also served for eight years on the Kauai County Council and was the former director of the state Office of Environmental Quality Control. He serves presently in a volunteer capacity as board president of the Hawaii Alliance for Progressive Action (HAPA) and is executive director of the Pono Hawaii Initiative.

  1. Debra Kekaualua February 26, 2020 7:10 am Reply

    Most of All “pay attention”. It all does not reflect what you anticipated at least the last 127-years says so! Hawaii has been in outlaw mode, fraud and corruption throughout, and Hooz is continuing this voting in rigged gigs as are all the rest who have not seen or heard Williamson Chang, U.H. professor of law, videos and profound writing about this fake state and the mess america keeps making! it has nothing to do with Mr Brun, who has the right to “innocent until proven guilty”. Didn’t Hooz have tax violations or other underhanded experiences? People in glass houses, church-goers who also play their corporate role 501c3, usaf kauai, pmrf upgrades that has us in a ‘bullseye’. Remember “oops”? All involved with THAT incident and thousands of others still need exposing. So, my estimate or directive is to shut down these islands, or corona virus and these kinds are poised to take you out, one way or another!

  2. Debra Kekaualua February 26, 2020 7:37 am Reply

    Every day that I am forced these days on failing roadway infrastructure, to run errands or take care of business, I have taken to saying approaching the customer service person immediately with “Mahalo Auntie for coming to work today”.

    In less than two weeks time this “kupuna” has been twice called out by middle aged local wahine! “I’m Not your auntie!” I will be honest and in these scenarios, I asked if “tita” ok?, not that either? So i cleared the room by saying how’s phqing scrub sound?

    From 0-17, I was raised militarily, brought to Hawaii from Rhine Main Germany, Intelligence Officer dad, a USAF “brat” (who had to fend for myself always) age 11 stationed in the fortress of Hickham AFB top secret “noose placement”, and living at the original Fort DeRussy, Waikiki.

    I moved to Kauai in 1971, went to nursing school at KCC, and a thousand other strategics employment enterprises, especially Central Answering Service, ‘coconut wireless’ emergency call-center, first Kauai ambulance crewmember, and all else it took to become sucessful, financially prepared for end of Life OR is it End of Days.

    This post describes what these islands has become under military occupation upgrades, TMT, and all the other american policy and procedures that are continuing illegal. It all is a ruse, a fraud and corrupted. Thus EVERYone who is in their cushy comfortable seating arrangements within the fake politicojudiciosystem especially citizen Voting, is to

    ECHO LOUDLY, Pay Attention!

    Due Diligence Research. Find that Obama ‘smoking gun’ on his Hawaii Birth Certificate. Then, ask yourself, Why cannot these “leaders” produce a Treaty of Annexation. Ask Yourself as the U.N. did, “By what means did Hawaii become a u.s. state? Tribals asking the same question.

    Why are there 900 american military bases in 127 other nations and across america, especially the western coastline, umbilical cord!

    Ask yourself about Oops Ballistic missile incoming, not a drill, not an oops either. Missile Launch north of Santa Barbara, Vandenberg AFB and intercepted SSW Niihau. How about the 8th tour of a tour pilot normal day, possibly pilot got too close to the little NASA golfball structures at the north western ridge of Polihale. Ask yourself Why does PMRF have their Own WATER WELL, “only for them” as one MP told me? Why does our COK DOW send out postcards, that the residents Purchase their own drinking water. Why is KIUC in Anahola DHHL as is calif Uturn for Christ?
    Why does KIUC want a reup on the water lease, Blue hole Wailuanuiahoano. What is going on at Coco Palms? Who is Atooi? Where are the Daybel Children

    Anyone who has NOT been paying attention, better awaken and smell the fresh rich Crown Land Brew of Kauaʻi Cope.

  3. Debra Kekaualua February 26, 2020 10:14 am Reply

    https://youtu.be/EIOh5KMqXfA Professor Williamson Chang, UH law school!

  4. Publius February 26, 2020 5:16 pm Reply

    Gary Hooser? LOL
    More like A Loser’s Guide.

  5. Charlie Chimknee February 26, 2020 9:25 pm Reply

    Sad we are losing Ross Kagawa next term, his every word and breath are about protecting the rights of the people, and the financial stability of everyone of us.

    The Council at large is a ground of 7 people hard to replace who must study and be aware of every issue brought before them every week every month from major issues to minor ones. All make themselves knowledgeable on every issue.

    Their job is not for people who think you just show up and vote, this is a study group..the study of guiding the future of Kauai and protecting us as best Can at same time.

    Our Council members are all intelligent, very well informed, knowledgeable about every issue and vote accordingly and appropriately for that which serves the public very very well.

    A huge mahalo should be expressed to every one of them every time you see, talk to, or pass by them.

    We’d be hard pressed to find better and hope Ross returns on the next round as his protection of the public will be sorely missed until then. Ross Please do not go to HONOLULU and the legislature as we need you here too much…!

    Gary you are much appreciated for your serving us, but you always seem to come off like sour grapes…why don’t you run again and see how it goes. You served us well back in the day.

    Chairman Arashiro is doing a great job managing the Council and the proceedings at each Council Meeting.

    Mahalo Nui Loa to you all on Kauai County Council…from the left: Felicia, Luke, Kipukai, Arryl, Mason, Arthur, and Ross.

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