HOOSER: Politics 101: Who you gonna call?

The U.S. Congress is currently debating bills attempting to preserve and protect voting rights, setting universal federal standards that all 50 states must abide by.

They are also discussing the expansion of Medicare, the renewal of the child-tax credit, family leave and new regulations limiting carbon emissions.

There are 435 members of the U.S. House of Representatives and 100 senators. The foundational document that drives their actions is the Constitution of the United States. The annual budget of the U.S. government is approximately $4.79 trillion.

The Hawai‘i state Legislative session began Jan. 19, and will conclude on May 5. State legislators will consider measures to increase the state’s minimum wage from the current $10.10 to $18 per hour (phased in over the next four years), discuss increased funding for the state Department of Hawaiian Home Lands, legalizing cannabis, and much more.

There are 51 members of the state House of Representatives and 25 state senators. The foundational document that drives their actions is the Hawai‘i State Constitution. Their annual operating budget is approximately $15.6 billion.

The Kaua‘i County Council operates year-round, with meetings held each Wednesday. Bills currently before the council include measures to charge fees for tourist parking at parks, amending zoning designations and regulating “feral cats.” There are seven councilmembers. The foundational document is the County Charter. The annual operating budget is approximately $243.3 million.

So, when you’re sick and tired of the potholes and traffic, the vacation rental down the street is disruptive, or your uncle’s immigration status is in limbo — who you gonna call?

The first question is whether it’s a state, federal or county issue.

With roads and highways, this can be confusing. County road crews do not work on state highways, and councilmembers can’t really do much with immigration issues, etc.

If you don’t know which branch of government has jurisdiction, then just call anyone on the list who you are familiar with or know personally.

Seriously. You should/must know someone on the above list!

Kaua‘i is a small community. If you don’t know a councilmember or your state representative, call them anyway. Ask them for help, share your thoughts, get to know them.

Any elected official worth his or her salt will offer you at least some guidance or help, even if the issue is not within their core area of responsibility. Any who respond only with a “that’s not my job” do not deserve the job. It is their job to help you. They might not be able to fix the problem but they have the ability to connect you with someone who can.

12 represent our interests

Each of us who live here on Kaua‘i and Ni‘ihau have 12 individuals specifically elected to represent our interests.

U.S. Senators: Brian Schatz, 808-523-2061; Mazie Hirono, 808-522-8970;

U.S. Representative: Kai Kahele, 808-746-6220;

Kaua‘i state Senator: Senate President Ronald Kouchi, senkouchi@capitol.hawaii.gov;

Kaua‘i state Representatives (area-specific): Nadine Nakamura, Ha‘ena to Kapa‘a, repnakamura@capitol.hawaii.gov; James Tokioka, Wailua Homesteads to Lihu‘e to ‘Oma‘o, reptokioka@capitol.hawaii.gov; Dee Morikawa, Koloa to Kekaha and Ni‘ihau, repmorikawa@capitol.hawaii.gov;

Kaua‘i County Councilmembers: Council Chair Arryl Kaneshiro, ajkaneshiro@kauai.gov; Council Vice Chair Mason Chock, mchock@kauai.gov; Bernard Carvalho Jr., bcarvalho@kauai.gov; Felicia Cowden, fcowden@kauai.gov; Bill DeCosta, bdecosta@kauai.gov; Luke Evslin, levslin@kauai.gov; KipuKai Kuali‘i, kkualii@kauai.gov.


Gary Hooser is the former vice-chair of the Democratic Party of Hawai‘i, and served eight years in the state Senate, where he was majority leader. He also served for eight years on the Kaua‘i County Council, and was the former director of the state Office of Environmental Quality Control. He serves in a volunteer capacity as board president of the Hawai‘i Alliance for Progressive Action and is executive director of the Pono Hawai‘i Initiative.

  1. McCleod February 1, 2022 4:35 pm Reply

    “The U.S. Congress is currently debating bills attempting to preserve and protect voting rights, setting universal federal standards that all 50 states must abide by”
    This is the antithesis of what our republic should be. The federal government was created by the states, the united States and NOT vice versa. The states are sovereign and their state legislatures determine voting rules…with the caveat that no one’s constitutionally protected rights are violated…you know Gary, the Bill of Rights. That’s all that’s needed not some top down centralized control by an incompetent collective of politicians, bureaucrats and NGOs.
    The constitution clearly delineates what powers are held by the federal government and which by the states. James Madison (one of the founders and authors of the constitution) said it perfectly:
    “The powers delegated by the proposed Constitution to the federal government are few and defined. Those which are to remain in the State governments are numerous and indefinite. The former will be exercised principally on external objects, as war, peace, negotiation and foreign commerce. … The powers reserved to the several States will extend to all the objects which in the ordinary course of affairs, concern the lives and liberties, and properties of the people, and the internal order, improvement and prosperity of the State.”
    So stop crowing about another federal usurpation of states rights, Gary.
    Colin McCleod

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