2018 Primary Election Candidates

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HANABUSA, Colleen Wakako
Name on ballot:

HANABUSA, Colleen Wakako

Running for:


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Political party:


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Current occupation:

U.S. Representative, First Congressional District



Previous job history:

- Attorney (specializing in labor law, environmental preservation and protection, and representing communities who need a champion to defend against the encroachment of private interests)
- Chair of the Honolulu Authority for Rapid Transportation (bringin

Previous elected office, if any:

- State Senator, 21st District (Chair Water Land and Hawaiian Affairs, Vice President, Vice Chair Ways and Means, Judiciary and Hawaiian Affairs) - President of the Hawaii State Senate (first woman to serve as leader of either chamber of the Hawaii Legisl

What qualifies you to represent the people of Hawaii?

I’ve gained broad experience representing people in Hawaii during my time in the Hawaii State Senate, the U.S. House of Representatives and in private law practice. The breadth of my leadership experience in state and federal government, as well as my time in the private sector, gives me unique insights on how government can run better and improve people’s lives. The people of Hawaii want results, not talk and delay. They want to know that our airports are modernized, not being modernized with a completion date in the next decade. They want to know that the land acquisition, environmental planning and permitting for an Oahu Veterans Home was completed on time versus this administration’s request for additional time to complete what should have already been done. I am passionate about public service and I have the qualifications, energy and focus to get the job done.

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

1. Affordable Housing: To keep college graduates, young professionals, families and seniors in Hawaii, we must build more affordable housing at a faster pace. We must also create communities with a sense of place. If we are successful, we will build the workforce pipeline necessary to drive innovation and diversify our economy. At the current rate of building affordable housing, we will never catch up with the growing demand. We must and can do better.
2. Homelessness: The causes of homelessness are many and varied and the state’s approach to ending homelessness must be multifaceted as well. We must address the causes of homelessness while we do everything within our power to assist those that are homeless. That means working with the counties and the non-profits/non-government sector to access the services they provide. I will seek out solutions that take a broader perspective on ending homelessness, including ‘ohana zones with medical services, counseling and other resource providers available to stabilize the community and transition the occupants to better housing options.
3. State Infrastructure: Greater urgency is needed to improve and modernize our rundown highways, airports and harbors, lifelines that connect our residents, tourists and businesses. Although not a state project, rail is funded by your hard-earned state tax dollars. The Legislature is not a source of blank checks. This administration might think an indefinite GET is an “option,” but my response to the City and County of Honolulu and HART is, manage within your budget.

If elected, what will be your highest legislative priority?

Government accountability across all branches and departments. I would like to see a state government accountability act where the branches of government are required to report annually in a transparent manner on the status of their projects and initiatives. This legislation would allow the public and the media to go to one site for each branch or department and see the results of the state’s work. Reporting of results would be concise and clear. For example, the public and the media would know with certainty how many affordable housing units were started, built and delivered during any calendar year by island, location, project and developer. Transparency would not only allow the public and media to gauge the effectiveness and efficiency of government, but it would also promote honesty in government. The taxpayers deserve nothing less.

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

I want to create and build communities across Hawaii where people have a sense of place and can live quality lives; where they know their neighbors and businesses; where they have transportation options, jobs and recreational opportunities; and where they are near the services and resources they need. This vision includes building right-sized and right-priced affordable housing communities that are safe and ideal for the needs and desires of their residents, whether seniors, millennials, young families or working professionals. Such communities will help retain and grow our workforce and promote innovation that will help diversify Hawaii’s economy. We will use state lands to build not only housing, but facilities that create jobs in new emerging technologies, like cyber security, food security processing facilities and disruptive technologies that have the potential to create new markets, like smart manufacturing facilities with industrial 3D printing. The options are unlimited with the right ideas and partners, and I will bring this vision and leadership to the governor'’ office.

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

I think most voters know I am from Waianae where my family owned and ran a small business. My brothers and I were actually raised behind our parents’ service station on Farrington Highway. Growing up in Waianae, but attending school in Honolulu, I learned early on that not all communities had the same access to education, jobs, and government resources and services. For example, I remember roller skating with the clip-on metal skates at home in Waianae and then at my cousin’s in town. In Waianae, we had gravel paths and uneven pavement and it hurt bad when we fell. In town, it was smooth asphalt and concrete sidewalks. That was my first taste as a youngster of inequality and I remember thinking that was not right. It was the same reaction I had after learning that our grandfathers were arrested and sent to internment camps during World War II. My grandfathers at the time were “shikata ga nai,” meaning “it cannot be helped,” so they did not force their stories and experiences on the grandchildren. But from what they shared, I learned enough to ask myself “why,” and those experiences instilled in me a deep-seated belief that government must strive to serve all communities equally and give children everywhere the opportunity to succeed and excel. As your governor, I will never forget my humble beginnings and I will always believe that a government that serves everyone is a government that serves best.

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