2018 Primary Election Candidates

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Name on ballot:

GANADEN, Ernesto M. (Sonny)

Running for:

State House

District (if applicable):


Political party:


Campaign website:


Current occupation:

Lawyer, Writer, College Instructor



Previous job history:

Staff Attorney, Domestic Violence Action Center; Writer and Journalist; Instructor, University of Hawaii at Manoa, Department of Ethnic Studies; Artist

Previous elected office, if any:


What qualifies you to represent the people of Hawaii?

I have taken several jobs to accommodate the high cost of living in Honolulu. I practice family law assisting victims of domestic violence, juveniles, and small businesses; I write and edit for several local magazines; I teach in the Ethnic Studies Department at the University of Hawaii at Manoa; and have been a pro bono community organizer for a variety of social justice organizations. They say politics is personal: Filipinos I’ve met during the campaign recognize my last name as Illocano- my lolo was born in La Union, was a Filipino Scout in WWII for the US Army, and his service as well as my lola’s work as a nurse allowed my father’s side to become American.

What are the top three challenges facing the voters you seek to represent?

A. Four stops of the Honolulu rail project with business and housing development in Halawa and along the Dillingham corridor.
B. Development and replacement of Puuwai Momi housing in Halawa, the Oahu Community Correctional Center, and continuing poor relations between governmental agencies and the public which threaten to create familiar procurement debacles at great cost to taxpayers and public trust.
C. Continuing public safety concerns from failing infrastructure, climate change, and growing economic inequality.

I hope to prepare Kalihi and Halawa for the challenges of the 21st Century. For at least a generation, residents and neighborhood boards have complained about constant street flooding, the safety of children going to and from school, street flooding, and mismanagement.

To ensure that the district thrives into the 21st century and the state can fund its liabilities, we will invest in basic infrastructure and education, and demand accountability of Transit Oriented Development. We will create a more equitable and affordable criminal justice system, with special attention to the state’s responsibility to end cycles of trauma. We will protect the rights of workers and their children to receive healthcare.

If elected, what will be your highest legislative priority?

Developing an honest and ethical position in state government in order to ensure the dignity of residents' homes and the value of their labor.

If elected, what can you do to improve the lives of your constituents?

Infrastructure and Public Safety:
The state must to step up to improve infrastructure and the safety of the community. For at least a generation, residents of Kalihi Kai have asked to improve roads for the safety of all pedestrians, with special concern for children. At the state level, we can push to designate streets from private to public, develop capital improvement plans, expand oversight, demand community involvement of the rail project’s Transit Oriented Development, and convene stakeholders and non-governmental service providers to ensure public safety and an improved way of life.

As storms have increased in intensity and frequency across the Pacific, we must take the precaution of clearing streams and preventing the loss of life and property. Kalihi stream has flooded several times in the last decade. Halawa stream has invasive species such as mangrove nearly a mile upstream, and homeowners have been forced to purchase flood insurance. We cannot afford a foreseeable urban natural disaster. The damage this year in East Honolulu, the north shore of Kauai, and in New Orleans and Houston warn us to be prepared.

Public Education / Criminal Justice Reform:
Schools have improved in recent years, but we have far to go to ensure that each child in the state is afforded an excellent, safe, and nurturing experience. Teachers must be supported with a living wage. School buildings must meet the demands of a 21st century education, with all the access to success that has become common in private schools.

The state must embrace the Housing First model for our houseless brothers and sisters, with empathy. If we ensure that people have a safe place to sleep and gather themselves, other services fall into place and the community becomes safer. We now know that sweeps don’t work, and neither does the criminalization of poverty. Any discussion of the replacement of the Oahu Community Correctional Center must be a concerted effort to promote community safety, decrease mass incarceration, and ensure democratic transparency of any development procurement.

Is there anything else you would like voters to know about you?

I hope to model a political future in which no human is left behind. We all have the responsibility to leave the world better than we found it. There is too much humor, joy, and hard work in our community to be cynical of our democracy, too much good in the world to not endeavor towards a brighter future.

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